Early Christian Writings
Title: CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA.
Subheading: Stromata (Miscellanies)
Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol II.
Τὰ ἀρχαῖα ἔθη κρατείτω. The Nicene Council
Original Source: CCEL
Related Link: earlychristianwritings.com
Translated by: XXX
By: Clemens, Titus Flavius
Published: 182-202 A.D.
(PDF File Size: xx mb) xx pages
Our Ref: ECW-Clem.TF-04.02
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The Stromata, or Miscellanies
The Knowledge of God Can Be Attained Only Through Faith.
Faith Not a Product of Nature.
Faith the Foundation of All Knowledge.
He Proves by Several Examples that the Greeks Drew from the Sacred Writers.
The Excellence and Utility of Faith.
The Utility of Fear. Objections Answered.
The Vagaries of Basilides and Valentinus as to Fear Being the Cause of Things.
The Connection of the Christian Virtues.
To What the Philosopher Applies Himself.
The Knowledge Which Comes Through Faith the Surest of All.
On First and Second Repentance.
On the Different Kinds of Voluntary Actions, and the Sins Thence Proceeding.
How a Thing May Be Involuntary.
How We are to Explain the Passages of Scripture Which Ascribe to God Human Affections.
On the Various Kinds of Knowledge.
The Mosaic Law the Fountain of All Ethics, and the Source from Which the Greeks Drew Theirs.
The True Gnostic is an Imitator of God, Especially in Beneficence.
The True Gnostic Exercises Patience and Self-Restraint.
Opinions of Various Philosophers on the Chief Good.
Plato’s Opinion, that the Chief Good Consists in Assimilation to God, and Its Agreement with Scripture.
Chapter I. — Introductory.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.i.html
As Scripture has called the Greeks pilferers of the Barbarian2154 philosophy, it will next have to be considered how this may be briefly demonstrated. For we shall not only show that they have imitated and copied the marvels recorded in our books; but we shall prove, besides, that they have plagiarized and falsified (our writings being, as we have shown, older) the chief dogmas they hold, both on faith and knowledge and science, and hope and love, and also on repentance and temperance and the fear of God,—a whole swarm, verily, of the virtues of truth.
Whatever the explication necessary on the point in hand shall demand, shall be embraced, and especially what is occult in the barbarian philosophy, the department of symbol and enigma; which those who have subjected the teaching of the ancients to systematic philosophic study have affected, as being in the highest degree serviceable, nay, absolutely necessary to the knowledge of truth.
In addition, it will in my opinion form an appropriate sequel to defend those tenets, on account of which the Greeks assail us, making use of a few Scriptures, if perchance the Jew also may listen2155 and be able quietly to turn from what he has believed to Him on whom he has not believed.
The ingenuous among the philosophers will then with propriety be taken up in a friendly exposure both of their life and of the discovery of new dogmas, not in the way of our avenging ourselves on our detractors (for that is far from being the case with those who have learned to bless those who curse, even though they needlessly discharge on us words of blasphemy), but with a view to their conversion; if by any means these adepts in wisdom may feel ashamed, being brought to their senses by barbarian demonstration; so as to be able, although late, to see clearly of what sort are the intellectual acquisitions for which they make pilgrimages over the seas.
Those they have stolen are to be pointed out, that we may thereby pull down their conceit; and of those on the discovery of which through investigation they plume themselves, the refutation will be furnished. By consequence, also we must treat of what is called the curriculum of study—how far it is serviceable;2156 and of astrology, and mathematics, and magic, and sorcery.
For all the Greeks boast of these as the highest sciences. “He who reproves boldly is a peacemaker.”2157 We have often said already that we have neither practiced nor do we study the expressing ourselves in pure Greek; for this suits those who seduce the multitude from the truth. But true philosophic demonstration will contribute to the profit not of the listeners’ tongues, but of their minds. And, in my opinion, he who is solicitous about truth ought not to frame his language with artfulness and care, but only to try to express his meaning as he best can.
For those who are particular about words, and devote their time to them, miss the things.2158 It is a feat fit for the gardener to pluck without injury the rose that is growing among the thorns; and for the craftsman to find out the pearl buried in the oyster’s flesh. And they say that fowls have flesh of the most agreeable quality, when, through not being supplied with abundance of food, they pick their sustenance with difficulty, scraping with their feet.
If any one, then, speculating on what is 348 similar, wants to arrive2159 at the truth [that is] in the numerous Greek plausibilities, like the real face beneath masks, he will hunt it out with much pains. For the power that appeared in the vision to Hermas said, “Whatever may be revealed to you, shall be revealed.”2160
Chapter II. — The Knowledge of God Can Be Attained Only Through Faith.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.ii.html
“Be not elated on account of thy wisdom,” say the Proverbs. “In all thy ways acknowledge her, that she may direct thy ways, and that thy foot may not stumble.” By these remarks he means to show that our deeds ought to be conformable to reason, and to manifest further that we ought to select and possess what is useful out of all culture.
Now the ways of wisdom are various that lead right to the way of truth. Faith is the way. “Thy foot shall not stumble” is said with reference to some who seem to oppose the one divine administration of Providence.
Whence it is added, “Be not wise in thine own eyes,” according to the impious ideas which revolt against the administration of God. “But fear God,” who alone is powerful. Whence it follows as a consequence that we are not to oppose God.
The sequel especially teaches clearly, that “the fear of God is departure from evil;” for it is said, “and depart from all evil.” Such is the discipline of wisdom (“for whom the Lord loveth He chastens”2161), causing pain in order to produce understanding, and restoring to peace and immortality. Accordingly, the Barbarian philosophy, which we follow, is in reality perfect and true.
And so it is said in the book of Wisdom: “For He hath given me the unerring knowledge of things that exist, to know the constitution of the word,” and so forth, down to “and the virtues of roots.” Among all these he comprehends natural science, which treats of all the phenomena in the world of sense. And in continuation, he alludes also to intellectual objects in what he subjoins: “And what is hidden or manifest I know; for Wisdom, the artificer of all things, taught me.”2162
You have, in brief, the professed aim of our philosophy; and the learning of these branches, when pursued with right course of conduct, leads through Wisdom, the artificer of all things, to the Ruler of all,—a Being difficult to grasp and apprehend, ever receding and withdrawing from him who pursues. But He who is far off has—oh ineffable marvel!—come very near. “I am a God that draws near,” says the Lord. He is in essence remote; “for how is it that what is begotten can have approached the Unbegotten?”
But He is very near in virtue of that power which holds all things in its embrace. “Shall one do aught in secret, and I see him not?”2163 For the power of God is always present, in contact with us, in the exercise of inspection, of beneficence, of instruction. Whence Moses, persuaded that God is not to be known by human wisdom, said, “Show me Thy glory;”2164 and into the thick darkness where God’s voice was, pressed to enter—that is, into the inaccessible and invisible ideas respecting Existence.
For God is not in darkness or in place, but above both space and time, and qualities of objects. Wherefore neither is He at any time in a part, either as containing or as contained, either by limitation or by section. “For what house will ye build to Me?” saith the Lord.2165 Nay, He has not even built one for Himself, since He cannot be contained. And though heaven be called His throne, not even thus is He contained, but He rests delighted in the creation.
It is clear, then, that the truth has been hidden from us; and if that has been already shown by one example, we shall establish it a little after by several more. How entirely worthy of approbation are they who are both willing to learn, and able, according to Solomon, “to know wisdom and instruction, and to perceive the words of wisdom, to receive knotty words, and to perceive true righteousness,” there being another [righteousness as well], not according to the truth, taught by the Greek laws, and by the rest of the philosophers.
“And to direct judgments,” it is said—not those of the bench, but he means that we must preserve sound and free of error the judicial faculty which is within us—“That I may give subtlety to the simple, to the young man sense and understanding.”2166 “For the wise man,” who has been persuaded to obey the commandments, “having heard these things, will become wiser” by knowledge; and “the intelligent man will acquire rule, and will understand a parable and a dark word, the sayings and enigmas of the wise.”2167
For it is not spurious words which those inspired by God and those who are gained over by them adduce, nor is it snares in which the most of the sophists entangle the young, spending their time on nought true. But those who possess the Holy Spirit “search the deep things of God,”2168—that is, grasp the secret that is in the prophecies.
“To impart of holy things to the dogs” is forbidden, so long as they remain beasts. For never ought those who are envious and perturbed, and still infidel in conduct, shameless in barking at investigation, 349 to dip in the divine and clear stream of the living water. “Let not the waters of thy fountain overflow, and let thy waters spread over thine own streets.”2169
For it is not many who understand such things as they fall in with; or know them even after learning them, though they think they do, according to the worthy Heraclitus. Does not even he seem to thee to censure those who believe not? “Now my just one shall live by faith,”2170 the prophet said. And another prophet also says, “Except ye believe, neither shall ye understand.”2171
For how ever could the soul admit the transcendental contemplation of such themes, while unbelief respecting what was to be learned struggled within? But faith, which the Greeks disparage, deeming it futile and barbarous, is a voluntary preconception,2172 the assent of piety—“the subject of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” according to the divine apostle. “For hereby,” pre-eminently, “the elders obtained a good report. But without faith it is impossible to please God.”2173
Others have defined faith to be a uniting assent to an unseen object, as certainly the proof of an unknown thing is an evident assent. If then it be choice, being desirous of something, the desire is in this instance intellectual. And since choice is the beginning of action, faith is discovered to be the beginning of action, being the foundation of rational choice in the case of any one who exhibits to himself the previous demonstration through faith. Voluntarily to follow what is useful, is the first principle of understanding.
Unswerving choice, then, gives considerable momentum in the direction of knowledge. The exercise of faith directly becomes knowledge, reposing on a sure foundation. Knowledge, accordingly, is defined by the sons of the philosophers as a habit, which cannot be overthrown by reason. Is there any other true condition such as this, except piety, of which alone the Word is teacher?2174 I think not.
Theophrastus says that sensation is the root of faith. For from it the rudimentary principles extend to the reason that is in us, and the understanding. He who believeth then the divine Scriptures with sure judgment, receives in the voice of God, who bestowed the Scripture, a demonstration that cannot be impugned. Faith, then, is not established by demonstration. “Blessed therefore those who, not having seen, yet have believed.”2175 The Siren’s songs, exhibiting a power above human, fascinated those that came near, conciliating them, almost against their will, to the reception of what was said.
Chapter III. — Faith Not a Product of Nature.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.iii.html
Now the followers of Basilides regard faith as natural, as they also refer it to choice, [representing it] as finding ideas by intellectual comprehension without demonstration; while the followers of Valentinus assign faith to us, the simple, but will have it that knowledge springs up in their own selves (who are saved by nature) through the advantage of a germ of superior excellence, saying that it is as far removed from faith as2176 the spiritual is from the animal.
Further, the followers of Basilides say that faith as well as choice is proper according to every interval; and that in consequence of the supramundane selection mundane faith accompanies all nature, and that the free gift of faith is comformable to the hope of each. Faith, then, is no longer the direct result of free choice, if it is a natural advantage.
Nor will he who has not believed, not being the author [of his unbelief], meet with a due recompense; and he that has believed is not the cause [of his belief]. And the entire peculiarity and difference of belief and unbelief will not fall under either praise or censure, if we reflect rightly, since there attaches to it the antecedent natural necessity proceeding from the Almighty.
And if we are pulled like inanimate things by the puppet-strings of natural powers, willingness2177 and unwillingness, and impulse, which is the antecedent of both, are mere redundancies. And for my part, I am utterly incapable of conceiving such an animal as has its appetencies, which are moved by external causes, under the dominion of necessity.
And what place is there any longer for the repentance of him who was once an unbeliever, through which comes forgiveness of sins? So that neither is baptism rational, nor the blessed seal,2178 nor the Son, nor the Father. But God, as I think, turns out to be the distribution to men of natural powers, which has not as the foundation of salvation voluntary faith.
Chapter IV. — Faith the Foundation of All Knowledge.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.iv.html
But we, who have heard by the Scriptures that self-determining choice and refusal have been given by the Lord to men, rest in the infallible criterion of faith, manifesting a willing spirit, since we have chosen life and believe God through His voice. And he who has believed the Word knows the matter to be true; for the Word is 350 truth. But he who has disbelieved Him that speaks, has disbelieved God.
“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made of things which appear,” says the apostle. “By faith Abel offered to God a fuller sacrifice than Cain, by which he received testimony that he was righteous, God giving testimony to him respecting his gifts; and by it he, being dead, yet speaketh,” and so forth, down to “than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.”2179
Faith having, therefore, justified these before the law, made them heirs of the divine promise. Why then should I review and adduce any further testimonies of faith from the history in our hands? “For the time would fail me were I to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephtha, David, and Samuel, and the prophets,” and what follows.2180
Now, inasmuch as there are four things in which the truth resides—Sensation, Understanding, Knowledge, Opinion,—intellectual apprehension is first in the order of nature; but in our case, and in relation to ourselves, Sensation is first, and of Sensation and Understanding the essence of Knowledge is formed; and evidence is common to Understanding and Sensation. Well, Sensation is the ladder to Knowledge; while Faith, advancing over the pathway of the objects of sense, leaves Opinion behind, and speeds to things free of deception, and reposes in the truth.
Should one say that Knowledge is founded on demonstration by a process of reasoning, let him hear that first principles are incapable of demonstration; for they are known neither by art nor sagacity. For the latter is conversant about objects that are susceptible of change, while the former is practical solely, and not theoretical.2181 Hence it is thought that the first cause of the universe can be apprehended by faith alone. For all knowledge is capable of being taught; and what is capable of being taught is founded on what is known before.
But the first cause of the universe was not previously known to the Greeks; neither, accordingly, to Thales, who came to the conclusion that water was the first cause; nor to the other natural philosophers who succeeded him, since it was Anaxagoras who was the first who assigned to Mind the supremacy over material things. But not even he preserved the dignity suited to the efficient cause, describing as he did certain silly vortices, together with the inertia and even foolishness of Mind.
Wherefore also the Word says, “Call no man master on earth.”2182 For knowledge is a state of mind that results from demonstration; but faith is a grace which from what is indemonstrable conducts to what is universal and simple, what is neither with matter, nor matter, nor under matter. But those who believe not, as to be expected, drag all down from heaven, and the region of the invisible, to earth, “absolutely grasping with their hands rocks and oaks,” according to Plato.
For, clinging to all such things, they asseverate that that alone exists which can be touched and handled, defining body and essence to be identical: disputing against themselves, they very piously defend the existence of certain intellectual and bodiless forms descending somewhere from above from the invisible world, vehemently maintaining that there is a true essence. “Lo, I make new things,” saith the Word, “which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man.”2183
With a new eye, a new ear, a new heart, whatever can be seen and heard is to be apprehended, by the faith and understanding of the disciples of the Lord, who speak, hear, and act spiritually. For there is genuine coin, and other that is spurious; which no less deceives unprofessionals, that it does not the money-changers; who know through having learned how to separate and distinguish what has a false stamp from what is genuine. So the money-changer only says to the unprofessional man that the coin is counterfeit. But the reason why, only the banker’s apprentice, and he that is trained to this department, learns.
Now Aristotle says that the judgment which follows knowledge is in truth faith. Accordingly, faith is something superior to knowledge, and is its criterion. Conjecture, which is only a feeble supposition, counterfeits faith; as the flatterer counterfeits a friend, and the wolf the dog. And as the workman sees that by learning certain things he becomes an artificer, and the helmsman by being instructed in the art will be able to steer; he does not regard the mere wishing to become excellent and good enough, but he must learn it by the exercise of obedience.
But to obey the Word, whom we call Instructor, is to believe Him, going against Him in nothing. For how can we take up a position of hostility to God? Knowledge, accordingly, is characterized by faith; and faith, by a kind of divine mutual and reciprocal correspondence, becomes characterized by knowledge.
Epicurus, too, who very greatly preferred pleasure to truth, supposes faith to be a preconception of the mind; and defines preconception to be a grasping at something evident, and at the clear understanding of the thing; and asserts that, without preconception, no one can either inquire, or doubt, or judge, or even argue.
How 351 can one, without a preconceived idea of what he is aiming after, learn about that which is the subject of his investigation? He, again, who has learned has already turned his preconception 2184 into comprehension. And if he who learns, learns not without a preconceived idea which takes in what is expressed, that man has ears to hear the truth. And happy is the man that speaks to the ears of those who hear; as happy certainly also is he who is a child of obedience.
Now to hear is to understand. If, then, faith is nothing else than a preconception of the mind in regard to what is the subject of discourse, and obedience is so called, and understanding and persuasion; no one shall learn aught without faith, since no one [learns aught] without preconception. Consequently there is a more ample demonstration of the complete truth of what was spoken by the prophet, “Unless ye believe, neither will ye understand.”
Paraphrasing this oracle, Heraclitus of Ephesus says, “If a man hope not, he will not find that which is not hoped for, seeing it is inscrutable and inaccessible.” Plato the philosopher, also, in The Laws, says, “that he who would be blessed and happy, must be straight from the beginning a partaker of the truth, so as to live true for as long a period as possible; for he is a man of faith. But the unbeliever is one to whom voluntary falsehood is agreeable; and the man to whom involuntary falsehood is agreeable is senseless;2185 neither of which is desirable.
For he who is devoid of friendliness, is faithless and ignorant.” And does he not enigmatically say in Euthydemus, that this is “the regal wisdom”? In The Statesman he says expressly, “So that the knowledge of the true king is kingly; and he who possesses it, whether a prince or private person, shall by all means, in consequence of this act, be rightly styled royal.” Now those who have believed in Christ both are and are called Chrestoi (good),2186 as those who are cared for by the true king are kingly.
For as the wise are wise by their wisdom, and those observant of law are so by the law; so also those who belong to Christ the King are kings, and those that are Christ’s Christians. Then, in continuation, he adds clearly, “What is right will turn out to be lawful, law being in its nature right reason, and not found in writings or elsewhere.” And the stranger of Elea pronounces the kingly and statesmanlike man “a living law.” Such is he who fulfils the law, “doing the will of the Father,”2187 inscribed on a lofty pillar, and set as an example of divine virtue to all who possess the power of seeing.
The Greeks are acquainted with the staves of the Ephori at Lacedæmon, inscribed with the law on wood. But my law, as was said above, is both royal and living; and it is right reason. “Law, which is king of all—of mortals and immortals,” as the Bœotian Pindar sings. For Speusippus,2188 in the first book against Cleophon, seems to write like Plato on this wise: “For if royalty be a good thing, and the wise man the only king and ruler, the law, which is right reason, is good;”2189 which is the case. The Stoics teach what is in conformity with this, assigning kinghood, priesthood, prophecy, legislation, riches, true beauty, noble birth, freedom, to the wise man alone. But that he is exceedingly difficult to find, is confessed even by them.
Chapter V. — He Proves by Several Examples that the Greeks Drew from the Sacred Writers.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.v.html
Accordingly all those above-mentioned dogmas appear to have been transmitted from Moses the great to the Greeks. That all things belong to the wise man, is taught in these words: “And because God hath showed me mercy, I have all things.”2190 And that he is beloved of God, God intimates when He says, “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.”2191 For the first is found to have been expressly called “friend;”2192 and the second is shown to have received a new name, signifying “he that sees God;”2193 while Isaac, God in a figure selected for Himself as a consecrated sacrifice, to be a type to us of the economy of salvation.
Now among the Greeks, Minos the king of nine years’ reign, and familiar friend of Zeus, is celebrated in song; they having heard how once God conversed with Moses, “as one speaking with his friend.”2194 Moses, then, was a sage, king, legislator. But our Saviour surpasses all human nature.2195 He is so lovely, as to be alone loved by us, whose hearts are set on the true beauty, for “He was the true light.”2196
He is shown to be a King, as such hailed by unsophisticated children and by the unbelieving and ignorant Jews, and heralded by the prophets. So rich is He, that He despised the whole earth, and the gold above and beneath it, with all glory, when given to Him by the adversary. What need is there to say that He is the only High Priest, who alone possesses 352 the knowledge of the worship of God?2197
He is Melchizedek, “King of peace,”2198 the most fit of all to head the race of men. A legislator too, inasmuch as He gave the law by the mouth of the prophets, enjoining and teaching most distinctly what things are to be done, and what not. Who of nobler lineage than He whose only Father is God? Come, then, let us produce Plato assenting to those very dogmas.
The wise man he calls rich in the Phœdrus, when he says, “O dear Pan, and whatever other gods are here, grant me to become fair within; and whatever external things I have, let them be agreeable to what is within. I would reckon the wise man rich.”2199 And the Athenian stranger,2200 finding fault with those who think that those who have many possessions are rich, speaks thus: “For the very rich to be also good is impossible—those, I mean, whom the multitude count rich.
Those they call rich, who, among a few men, are owners of the possessions worth most money; which any bad man may possess.” “The whole world of wealth belongs to the believer,”2201 Solomon says, “but not a penny to the unbeliever.” Much more, then, is the Scripture to be believed which says, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man”2202 to lead a philosophic life.
But, on the other hand, it blesses “the poor;”2203 as Plato understood when he said, “It is not the diminishing of one’s resources, but the augmenting of insatiableness, that is to be considered poverty; for it is not slender means that ever constitutes poverty, but insatiableness, from which the good man being free, will also be rich.” And in Alcibiades he calls vice a servile thing, and virtue the attribute of freemen.
“Take away from you the heavy yoke, and take up the easy one,”2204 says the Scripture; as also the poets call [vice] a slavish yoke. And the expression, “Ye have sold yourselves to your sins,” agrees with what is said above: “Every one, then, who committeth sin is a slave; and the slave abideth not in the house for ever. But if the Son shall make you free, then shall ye be free, and the truth shall make you free.”2205
And again, that the wise man is beautiful, the Athenian stranger asserts, in the same way as if one were to affirm that certain persons were just, even should they happen to be ugly in their persons. And in speaking thus with respect to eminent rectitude of character, no one who should assert them to be on this account beautiful would be thought to speak extravagantly. And “His appearance was inferior to all the Sons of men,”2206 prophecy predicted.
Plato, moreover, has called the wise man a king, in The Statesman. The remark is quoted above.
These points being demonstrated, let us recur again to our discourse on faith. Well, with the fullest demonstration, Plato proves, that there is need of faith everywhere, celebrating peace at the same time: “For no man will ever be trusty and sound in seditions without entire virtue. There are numbers of mercenaries full of fight, and willing to die in war; but, with a very few exceptions, the most of them are desperadoes and villains, insolent and senseless.”
If these observations are right, “every legislator who is even of slight use, will, in making his laws, have an eye to the greatest virtue. Such is fidelity,”2207 which we need at all times, both in peace and in war, and in all the rest of our life, for it appears to embrace the other virtues. “But the best thing is neither war nor sedition, for the necessity of these is to be deprecated. But peace with one another and kindly feeling are what is best.” From these remarks the greatest prayer evidently is to have peace, according to Plato.
And faith is the greatest mother of the virtues. Accordingly it is rightly said in Solomon, “Wisdom is in the mouth of the faithful.”2208 Since also Xenocrates, in his book on “Intelligence,” says “that wisdom is the knowledge of first causes and of intellectual essence.” He considers intelligence as twofold, practical and theoretical, which latter is human wisdom. Consequently wisdom is intelligence, but all intelligence is not wisdom. And it has been shown, that the knowledge of the first cause of the universe is of faith, but is not demonstration.
For it were strange that the followers of the Samian Pythagoras, rejecting demonstrations of subjects of question, should regard the bare ipse dixit2209 as ground of belief; and that this expression alone sufficed for the confirmation of what they heard, while those devoted to the contemplation of the truth, presuming to disbelieve the trustworthy Teacher, God the only Saviour, should demand of Him tests of His utterances. But He says, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” And who is he? Let Epicharmus say:—
“Mind sees, mind hears; all besides is deaf and blind.”2210
Rating some as unbelievers, Heraclitus says, 353“Not knowing how to hear or to speak;” aided doubtless by Solomon, who says, “If thou lovest to hear, thou shalt comprehend; and if thou incline thine ear, thou shalt be wise.”2211
Chapter VI. — The Excellence and Utility of Faith.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.vi.html
“Lord, who hath believed our report?”2212 Isaiah says. For “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” saith the apostle. “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe on Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those that publish glad tidings of good things.”2213 You see how he brings faith by hearing, and the preaching of the apostles, up to the word of the Lord, and to the Son of God. We do not yet understand the word of the Lord to be demonstration.
As, then, playing at ball not only depends on one throwing the ball skilfully, but it requires besides one to catch it dexterously, that the game may be gone through according to the rules for ball; so also is it the case that teaching is reliable when faith on the part of those who hear, being, so to speak, a sort of natural art, contributes to the process of learning. So also the earth co-operates, through its productive power, being fit for the sowing of the seed.
For there is no good of the very best instruction without the exercise of the receptive faculty on the part of the learner, not even of prophecy, when there is the absence of docility on the part of those who hear. For dry twigs, being ready to receive the power of fire, are kindled with great ease; and the far-famed stone2214 attracts steel through affinity, as the amber tear-drop drags to itself twigs, and the lump sets chaff in motion. And the substances attracted obey them, influenced by a subtle spirit, not as a cause, but as a concurring cause.
There being then a twofold species of vice—that characterized by craft and stealth, and that which leads and drives with violence—the divine Word cries, calling all together; knowing perfectly well those that will not obey; notwithstanding then since to obey or not is in our own power, provided we have not the excuse of ignorance to adduce.
He makes a just call, and demands of each according to his strength. For some are able as well as willing, having reached this point through practice and being purified; while others, if they are not yet able, already have the will. Now to will is the act of the soul, but to do is not without the body. Nor are actions estimated by their issue alone; but they are judged also according to the element of free choice in each,—if he chose easily, if he repented of his sins, if he reflected on his failures and repented (μετέγνω), which is (μετὰ ταῦτα ἔγνω) “afterwards knew.”
For repentance is a tardy knowledge, and primitive innocence is knowledge. Repentance, then, is an effect of faith. For unless a man believe that to which he was addicted to be sin, he will not abandon it; and if he do not believe punishment to be impending over the transgressor, and salvation to be the portion of him who lives according to the commandments, he will not reform.
Hope, too, is based on faith. Accordingly the followers of Basilides define faith to be, the assent of the soul to any of those things, that do not affect the senses through not being present. And hope is the expectation of the possession of good. Necessarily, then, is expectation founded on faith. Now he is faithful who keeps inviolably what is entrusted to him; and we are entrusted with the utterances respecting God and the divine words, the commands along with the execution of the injunctions.
This is the faithful servant, who is praised by the Lord. And when it is said, “God is faithful,” it is intimated that He is worthy to be believed when declaring aught. Now His Word declares; and “God” Himself is “faithful.”2215 How, then, if to believe is to suppose, do the philosophers think that what proceeds from themselves is sure? For the voluntary assent to a preceding demonstration is not supposition, but it is assent to something sure. Who is more powerful than God?
Now unbelief is the feeble negative supposition of one opposed to Him: as incredulity is a condition which admits faith with difficulty. Faith is the voluntary supposition and anticipation of pre-comprehension. Expectation is an opinion about the future, and expectation about other things is opinion about uncertainty.
Confidence is a strong judgment about a thing. Wherefore we believe Him in whom we have confidence unto divine glory and salvation. And we confide in Him, who is God alone, whom we know, that those things nobly promised to us, and for this end benevolently created and bestowed by Him on us, will not fail.
Benevolence is the wishing of good things to another for his sake. For He needs nothing; and the beneficence and benignity which flow from the Lord terminate in us, being divine benevolence, and benevolence resulting in beneficence. And if to Abraham on his believing it 354 was counted for righteousness; and if we are the seed of Abraham, then we must also believe through hearing. For we are Israelites, who are convinced not by signs, but by hearing.
Wherefore it is said, “Rejoice, O barren, that barest not; break forth and cry, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than of her who hath an husband.”2216 “Thou hast lived for the fence of the people, thy children were blessed in the tents of their fathers.”2217
And if the same mansions are promised by prophecy to us and to the patriarchs, the God of both the covenants is shown to be one. Accordingly it is added more clearly, “Thou hast inherited the covenant of Israel,”2218 speaking to those called from among the nations, that were once barren, being formerly destitute of this husband, who is the Word,—desolate formerly,—of the bridegroom.
“Now the just shall live by faith,”2219 which is according to the covenant and the commandments; since these, which are two in name and time, given in accordance with the [divine] economy—being in power one—the old and the new, are dispensed through the Son by one God. As the apostle also says in the Epistle to the Romans, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith,” teaching the one salvation which from prophecy to the Gospel is perfected by one and the same Lord.
“This charge,” he says, “I commit to thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war the good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck,”2220 because they defiled by unbelief the conscience that comes from God. Accordingly, faith may not, any more, with reason, be disparaged in an offhand way, as simple and vulgar, appertaining to anybody.
For, if it were a mere human habit, as the Greeks supposed, it would have been extinguished. But if it grow, and there be no place where it is not; then I affirm, that faith, whether founded in love, or in fear, as its disparagers assert, is something divine; which is neither rent asunder by other mundane friendship, nor dissolved by the presence of fear. For love, on account of its friendly alliance with faith, makes men believers; and faith, which is the foundation of love, in its turn introduces the doing of good; since also fear, the pædagogue of the law, is believed to be fear by those, by whom it is believed.
For, if its existence is shown in its working, it is yet believed when about to do and threatening, and when not working and present; and being believed to exist, it does not itself generate faith, but is by faith tested and proved trustworthy. Such a change, then, from unbelief to faith—and to trust in hope and fear, is divine. And, in truth, faith is discovered, by us, to be the first movement towards salvation; after which fear, and hope, and repentance, advancing in company with temperance and patience, lead us to love and knowledge.
Rightly, therefore, the Apostle Barnabas says, “From the portion I have received I have done my diligence to send by little and little to you; that along with your faith you may also have perfect knowledge.2221 Fear and patience are then helpers of your faith; and our allies are long-suffering and temperance. These, then,” he says, “in what respects the Lord, continuing in purity, there rejoice along with them, wisdom, understanding, intelligence, knowledge.”
The fore-mentioned virtues being, then, the elements of knowledge; the result is that faith is more elementary, being as necessary to the Gnostic,2222 as respiration to him that lives in this world is to life. And as without the four elements it is not possible to live, so neither can knowledge be attained without faith. It is then the support of truth.
Chapter VII. — The Utility of Fear. Objections Answered.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.vii.html
Those, who denounce fear, assail the law; and if the law, plainly also God, who gave the law. For these three elements are of necessity presented in the subject on hand: the ruler, his administration, and the ruled. If, then, according to hypothesis, they abolish the law; then, by necessary consequence, each one who is led by lust, courting pleasure, must neglect what is right and despise the Deity, and fearlessly indulge in impiety and injustice together, having dashed away from the truth.
Yea, say they, fear is an irrational aberration,2223 and perturbation of mind. What sayest thou? And how can this definition be any longer maintained, seeing the commandment is given me by the Word? But the commandment forbids, hanging fear over the head of those who have incurred2224 admonition for their discipline.
Fear is not then irrational. It is therefore rational. How could it be otherwise, exhorting as it does, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Than shalt not bear false witness? But if they will quibble about the names, let the philosophers term the fear of the law, cautious fear, (εὐλάβεια) 355 which is a shunning (ἔκκλισις) agreeable to reason. Such Critolaus of Phasela not inaptly called fighters about names (ὀνοματομάκοι). The commandment, then, has already appeared fair and lovely even in the highest degree, when conceived under a change of name.
Cautious fear (εὐλάβεια) is therefore shown to be reasonable, being the shunning of what hurts; from which arises repentance for previous sins. “For the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; good understanding is to all that do it.”2225 He calls wisdom a doing, which is the fear of the Lord paving the way for wisdom.
But if the law produces fear, the knowledge of the law is the beginning of wisdom; and a man is not wise without law. Therefore those who reject the law are unwise; and in consequence they are reckoned godless (ἄθεοι). Now instruction is the beginning of wisdom. “But the ungodly despise wisdom and instruction,”2226 saith the Scripture.
Let us see what terrors the law announces. If it is the things which hold an intermediate place between virtue and vice, such as poverty, disease, obscurity, and humble birth, and the like, these things civil laws hold forth, and are praised for so doing. And those of the Peripatetic school, who introduce three kinds of good things, and think that their opposites are evil, this opinion suits.
But the law given to us enjoins us to shun what are in reality bad things—adultery, uncleanness, pæderasty, ignorance, wickedness, soul-disease, death (not that which severs the soul from the body, but that which severs the soul from truth). For these are vices in reality, and the workings that proceed from them are dreadful and terrible. “For not unjustly,” say the divine oracles, “are the nets spread for birds; for they who are accomplices in blood treasure up evils to themselves.”2227
How, then, is the law still said to be not good by certain heresies that clamorously appeal to the apostle, who says, “For by the law is the knowledge of sin?”2228 To whom we say, The law did not cause, but showed sin. For, enjoining what is to be done, it reprehended what ought not to be done. And it is the part of the good to teach what is salutary, and to point out what is deleterious; and to counsel the practice of the one, and to command to shun the other.
Now the apostle, whom they do not comprehend, said that by the law the knowledge of sin was manifested, not that from it it derived its existence. And how can the law be not good, which trains, which is given as the instructor (παιδαγωγός) to Christ,2229 that being corrected by fear, in the way of discipline, in order to the attainment of the perfection which is by Christ? “I will not,” it is said, “the death of the sinner, as his repentance.”2230 Now the commandment works repentance; inasmuch as it deters2231 from what ought not to be done, and enjoins good deeds.
By ignorance he means, in my opinion, death. “And he that is near the Lord is full of stripes.”2232 Plainly, he, that draws near to knowledge, has the benefit of perils, fears, troubles, afflictions, by reason of his desire for the truth. “For the son who is instructed turns out wise, and an intelligent son is saved from burning. And an intelligent son will receive the commandments.”2233
And Barnabas the apostle having said, “Woe to those who are wise in their own conceits, clever in their own eyes,”2234 added, “Let us become spiritual, a perfect temple to God; let us, as far as in us lies, practice the fear of God, and strive to keep His commands, that we may rejoice in His judgments.”2235 Whence “the fear of God” is divinely said to be the beginning of wisdom.2236
Chapter VIII. — The Vagaries of Basilides and Valentinus as to Fear Being the Cause of Things.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.viii.html
Here the followers of Basilides, interpreting this expression, say, “that the Prince,2237 having heard the speech of the Spirit, who was being ministered to, was struck with amazement both with the voice and the vision, having had glad tidings beyond his hopes announced to him; and that his amazement was called fear, which became the origin of wisdom, which distinguishes classes, and discriminates, and perfects, and restores. For not the world alone, but also the election, He that is over all has set apart and sent forth.”
And Valentinus appears also in an epistle to have adopted such views. For he writes in these very words: “And as2238 terror fell on the angels at this creature, because he uttered things greater than proceeded from his formation, by reason of the being in him who had invisibly communicated a germ of the supernal essence, and who spoke with free utterance; so also among the tribes of men in the world, the works of men became terrors to those who made them,—as, for example, images and statues. And the hands of all fashion things to bear the name of God: 356 for Adam formed into the name of man inspired the dread attaching to the pre-existent man, as having his being in him; and they were terror-stricken, and speedily marred the work.”
But there being but one First Cause, as will be shown afterwards, these men will be shown to be inventors of chatterings and chirpings. But since God deemed it advantageous, that from the law and the prophets, men should receive a preparatory discipline by the Lord, the fear of the Lord was called the beginning of wisdom, being given by the Lord, through Moses, to the disobedient and hard of heart. For those whom reason convinces not, fear tames; which also the Instructing Word, foreseeing from the first, and purifying by each of these methods, adapted the instrument suitably for piety.
Consternation is, then, fear at a strange apparition, or at an unlooked-for representation—such as, for example, a message; while fear is an excessive wonderment on account of something which arises or is. They do not then perceive that they represent by means of amazement the God who is highest and is extolled by them, as subject to perturbation and antecedent to amazement as having been in ignorance. If indeed ignorance preceded amazement; and if this amazement and fear, which is the beginning of wisdom, is the fear of God, then in all likelihood ignorance as cause preceded both the wisdom of God and all creative work, and not only these, but restoration and even election itself. Whether, then, was it ignorance of what was good or what was evil?
Well, if of good, why does it cease through amazement? And minister and preaching and baptism are [in that case] superfluous to them. And if of evil, how can what is bad be the cause of what is best? For had not ignorance preceded, the minister would not have come down, nor would have amazement seized on “the Prince,” as they say; nor would he have attained to a beginning of wisdom from fear, in order to discrimination between the elect and those that are mundane.
And if the fear of the pre-existent man made the angels conspire against their own handiwork, under the idea that an invisible germ of the supernal essence was lodged within that creation, or through unfounded suspicion excited envy, which is incredible, the angels became murderers of the creature which had been entrusted to them, as a child might be, they being thus convicted of the grossest ignorance. Or suppose they were influenced by being involved in foreknowledge.
But they would not have conspired against what they foreknew in the assault they made; nor would they have been terror-struck at their own work, in consequence of foreknowledge, on their perceiving the supernal germ. Or, finally, suppose, trusting to their knowledge, they dared (but this also were impossible for them), on learning the excellence that is in the Pleroma, to conspire against man. Furthermore also they laid hands on that which was according to the image, in which also is the archetype, and which, along with the knowledge that remains, is indestructible.
To these, then, and certain others, especially the Marcionites, the Scripture cries, though they listen not, “He that heareth Me shall rest with confidence in peace, and shall be tranquil, fearless of all evil.”2239
What, then, will they have the law to be? They will not call it evil, but just; distinguishing what is good from what is just. But the Lord, when He enjoins us to dread evil, does not exchange one evil for another, but abolishes what is opposite by its opposite. Now evil is the opposite of good, as what is just is of what is unjust. If, then, that absence of fear, which the fear of the Lord produces, is called the beginning of what is good,2240 fear is a good thing.
And the fear which proceeds from the law is not only just, but good, as it takes away evil. But introducing absence of fear by means of fear, it does not produce apathy by means of mental perturbation, but moderation of feeling by discipline. When, then, we hear, “Honour the Lord, and be strong: but fear not another besides Him,”2241 we understand it to be meant fearing to sin, and following the commandments given by God, which is the honour that cometh from God. For the fear of God is Δέος [in Greek]. But if fear is perturbation of mind, as some will have it that fear is perturbation of mind, yet all fear is not perturbation.
Superstition is indeed perturbation of mind; being the fear of demons, that produce and are subject to the excitement of passion. On the other hand, consequently, the fear of God, who is not subject to perturbation, is free of perturbation. For it is not God, but falling away from God, that the man is terrified for. And he who fears this—that is, falling into evils—fears and dreads those evils. And he who fears a fall, wishes himself to be free of corruption and perturbation. “The wise man, fearing, avoids evil: but the foolish, trusting, mixes himself with it,” says the Scripture; and again it says, “In the fear of the Lord is the hope of strength.”2242
Chapter IX. — The Connection of the Christian Virtues.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.ix.html
Such a fear, accordingly, leads to repentance and hope. Now hope is the expectation of good things, or an expectation sanguine of absent 357 good; and favourable circumstances are assumed in order to good hope, which we have learned leads on to love. Now love turns out to be consent in what pertains to reason, life, and manners, or in brief, fellowship in life, or it is the intensity of friendship and of affection, with right reason, in the enjoyment of associates.
And an associate (ἑταῖρος) is another self;2243 just as we call those, brethren, who are regenerated by the same word. And akin to love is hospitality, being a congenial art devoted to the treatment of strangers. And those are strangers, to whom the things of the world are strange. For we regard as worldly those, who hope in the earth and carnal lusts. “Be not conformed,” says the apostle, “to this world: but be ye transformed in the renewal of the mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”2244
Hospitality, therefore, is occupied in what is useful for strangers; and guests (ἐπίξενοι) are strangers (ξένοι); and friends are guests; and brethren are friends. “Dear brother,”2245 says Homer.
Philanthropy, in order to which also, is natural affection, being a loving treatment of men, and natural affection, which is a congenial habit exercised in the love of friends or domestics, follow in the train of love. And if the real man within us is the spiritual, philanthropy is brotherly love to those who participate, in the same spirit. Natural affection, on the other hand, is the preservation of good-will, or of affection; and affection is its perfect demonstration;2246 and to be beloved is to please in behaviour, by drawing and attracting.
And persons are brought to sameness by consent, which is the knowledge of the good things that are enjoyed in common. For community of sentiment (ὁμογνωμοσύνη) is harmony of opinions (συμφωνία γνωμῶν). “Let your love be without dissimulation,” it is said; “and abhorring what is evil, let us become attached to what is good, to brotherly love,” and so on, down to “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, living peaceably with all men.” Then “be not overcome of evil,” it is said, “but overcome evil with good.”2247
And the same apostle owns that he bears witness to the Jews, “that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.”2248 For they did not know and do the will of the law; but what they supposed, that they thought the law wished. And they did not believe the law as prophesying, but the bare word; and they followed through fear, not through disposition and faith.
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness,”2249 who was prophesied by the law to every one that believeth. Whence it was said to them by Moses, “I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are not a people; and I will anger you by a foolish nation, that is, by one that has become disposed to obedience.”2250
And by Isaiah it is said, “I was found of them that sought Me not; I was made manifest to them that inquired not after Me,”2251—manifestly previous to the coming of the Lord; after which to Israel, the things prophesied, are now appropriately spoken: “I have stretched out My hands all the day long to a disobedient and gainsaying people.”
Do you see the cause of the calling from among the nations, clearly declared, by the prophet, to be the disobedience and gainsaying of the people? Then the goodness of God is shown also in their case. For the apostle says, “But through their transgression salvation is come to the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy”2252 and to willingness to repent. And the Shepherd, speaking plainly of those who had fallen asleep, recognises certain righteous among Gentiles and Jews, not only before the appearance of Christ, but before the law, in virtue of acceptance before God,—as Abel, as Noah, as any other righteous man.
He says accordingly, “that the apostles and teachers, who had preached the name of the Son of God, and had fallen asleep, in power and by faith, preached to those that had fallen asleep before.” Then he subjoins: “And they gave them the seal of preaching. They descended, therefore, with them into the water, and again ascended. But these descended alive, and again ascended alive. But those, who had fallen asleep before, descended dead, but ascended alive. By these, therefore, they were made alive, and knew the name of the Son of God.
Wherefore also they ascended with them, and fitted into the structure of the tower, and unhewn were built up together; they fell asleep in righteousness and in great purity, but wanted only this seal.”2253 “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things of the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves,”2254 according to the apostle.
As, then, the virtues follow one another, why need I say what has been demonstrated already, that faith hopes through repentance, and fear through faith; and patience and practice in these along with learning terminate in love, 358 which is perfected by knowledge? But that is necessarily to be noticed, that the Divine alone is to be regarded as naturally wise.
Therefore also wisdom, which has taught the truth, is the power of God; and in it the perfection of knowledge is embraced. The philosopher loves and likes the truth, being now considered as a friend, on account of his love, from his being a true servant. The beginning of knowledge is wondering at objects, as Plato says is in his Theætetus; and Matthew exhorting in the Traditions, says, “Wonder at what is before you;” laying this down first as the foundation of further knowledge. So also in the Gospel to the Hebrews it is written, “He that wonders shall reign, and he that has reigned shall rest.
It is impossible, therefore, for an ignorant man, while he remains ignorant, to philosophize, not having apprehended the idea of wisdom; since philosophy is an effort to grasp that which truly is, and the studies that conduce thereto. And it is not the rendering of one2255 accomplished in good habits of conduct, but the knowing how we are to use and act and labour, according as one is assimilated to God. I mean God the Saviour, by serving the God of the universe through the High Priest, the Word, by whom what is in truth good and right is beheld. Piety is conduct suitable and corresponding to God.
Chapter X. — To What the Philosopher Applies Himself.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.x.html
These three things, therefore, our philosopher attaches himself to: first, speculation; second, the performance of the precepts; third, the forming of good men;—which, concurring, form the Gnostic. Whichever of these is wanting, the elements of knowledge limp. Whence the Scripture divinely says, “And the Lord spake to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and thou shalt say to them, I am the Lord your God.
According to the customs of the land of Egypt, in which ye have dwelt, ye shall not do; and according to the customs of Canaan, into which I bring you, ye shall not do; and in their usages ye shall not walk. Ye shall perform My judgments, and keep My precepts, and walk in them: I am the Lord your God. And ye shall keep all My commandments, and do them. He that doeth them shall live in them. I am the Lord your God.”2256
Whether, then, Egypt and the land of Canaan be the symbol of the world and of deceit, or of sufferings and afflictions; the oracle shows us what must be abstained from, and what, being divine and not worldly, must be observed. And when it is said, “The man that doeth them shall live in them,”2257 it declares both the correction of the Hebrews themselves, and the training and advancement of us who are nigh:2258 it declares at once their life and ours. For “those who were dead in sins are quickened together with Christ,”2259 by our covenant.
For Scripture, by the frequent reiteration of the expression, “I am the Lord your God,” shames in such a way as most powerfully to dissuade, by teaching us to follow God who gave the commandments, and gently admonishes us to seek God and endeavour to know Him as far as possible; which is the highest speculation, that which scans the greatest mysteries, the real knowledge, that which becomes irrefragable by reason. This alone is the knowledge of wisdom, from which rectitude of conduct is never disjoined.
Chapter XI. — The Knowledge Which Comes Through Faith the Surest of All.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.xi.html
But the knowledge of those who think themselves wise, whether the barbarian sects or the philosophers among the Greeks, according to the apostle, “puffeth up.”2260 But that knowledge, which is the scientific demonstration of what is delivered according to the true philosophy, is founded on faith. Now, we may say that it is that process of reason which, from what is admitted, procures faith in what is disputed.
Now, faith being twofold—the faith of knowledge and that of opinion—nothing prevents us from calling demonstration twofold, the one resting on knowledge, the other on opinion; since also knowledge and foreknowledge are designated as twofold, that which is essentially accurate, that which is defective. And is not the demonstration, which we possess, that alone which is true, as being supplied out of the divine Scriptures, the sacred writings, and out of the “God-taught wisdom,” according to the apostle?
Learning, then, is also obedience to the commandments, which is faith in God. And faith is a power of God, being the strength of the truth. For example, it is said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard, ye shall remove the mountain.”2261 And again, “According to thy faith let it be to thee.”2262 And one is cured, receiving healing by faith; and the dead is raised up in consequence of the power of one believing that he would be raised. The demonstration, however, which rests on opinion is human, and is the result of rhetorical arguments or dialectic syllogisms.
For the highest demonstration, to which we have alluded, produces intelligent faith by the adducing and opening up of the Scriptures 359 to the souls of those who desire to learn; the result of which is knowledge (gnosis). For if what is adduced in order to prove the point at issue is assumed to be true, as being divine and prophetic, manifestly the conclusion arrived at by inference from it will consequently be inferred truly; and the legitimate result of the demonstration will be knowledge.
When, then, the memorial of the celestial and divine food was commanded to be consecrated in the golden pot, it was said, “The omer was the tenth of the three measures.”2263 For in ourselves, by the three measures are indicated three criteria; sensation of objects of sense, speech,—of spoken names and words, and the mind,—of intellectual objects.
The Gnostic, therefore, will abstain from errors in speech, and thought, and sensation, and action, having heard “that he that looks so as to lust hath committed adultery;”2264 and reflecting that “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God;”2265 and knowing this, “that not what enters into the mouth defileth, but that it is what cometh forth by the mouth that defileth the man.
For out of the heart proceed thoughts.”2266 This, as I think, is the true and just measure according to God, by which things capable of measurement are measured, the decad which is comprehensive of man; which summarily the three above-mentioned measures pointed out.
There are body and soul, the five senses, speech, the power of reproduction—the intellectual or the spiritual faculty, or whatever you choose to call it. And we must, in a word, ascending above all the others, stop at the mind; as also certainly in the universe overleaping the nine divisions, the first consisting of the four elements put in one place for equal interchange: and then the seven wandering stars and the one that wanders not, the ninth, to the perfect number, which is above the nine,2267 and the tenth division, we must reach to the knowledge of God, to speak briefly, desiring the Maker after the creation. Wherefore the tithes both of the ephah and of the sacrifices were presented to God; and the paschal feast began with the tenth day, being the transition from all trouble, and from all objects of sense.
The Gnostic is therefore fixed by faith; but the man who thinks himself wise touches not what pertains to the truth, moved as he is by unstable and wavering impulses. It is therefore reasonably written, “Cain went forth from the face of God, and dwelt in the land of Naid, over against Eden.” Now Naid is interpreted commotion, and Eden delight; and Faith, and Knowledge, and Peace are delight, from which he that has disobeyed is cast out.
But he that is wise in his own eyes will not so much as listen to the beginning of the divine commandments; but, as if his own teacher, throwing off the reins, plunges voluntarily into a billowy commotion, sinking down to mortal and created things from the uncreated knowledge, holding various opinions at various times. “Those who have no guidance fall like leaves.”2268
Reason, the governing principle, remaining unmoved and guiding the soul, is called its pilot. For access to the Immutable is obtained by a truly immutable means. Thus Abraham was stationed before the Lord, and approaching spoke.2269 And to Moses it is said, “But do thou stand there with Me.”2270 And the followers of Simon wish be assimilated in manners to the standing form which they adore. Faith, therefore, and the knowledge of the truth, render the soul, which makes them its choice, always uniform and equable.
For congenial to the man of falsehood is shifting, and change, and turning away, as to the Gnostic are calmness, and rest, and peace. As, then, philosophy has been brought into evil repute by pride and self-conceit, so also gnosis by false gnosis called by the same name; of which the apostle writing says, “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding the profane and vain babblings and oppositions of science (gnosis) falsely so called; which some professing, have erred concerning the faith.”2271
Convicted by this utterance, the heretics reject the Epistles to Timothy.2272 Well, then, if the Lord is the truth, and wisdom, and power of God, as in truth He is, it is shown that the real Gnostic is he that knows Him, and His Father by Him. For his sentiments are the same with him who said, “The lips of the righteous know high things.”2273
Chapter XII. — Twofold Faith.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.xii.html
Faith as also Time being double, we shall find virtues in pairs both dwelling together. For memory is related to past time, hope to future. We believe that what is past did, and that what is future will take place. And, on the other hand, we love, persuaded by faith that the past was as it was, and by hope expecting the future. For in everything love attends the Gnostic, who knows one God. “And, behold, all things which He created were very good.”2274 He both knows and admires.
Godliness adds length of 360 life; and the fear of the Lord adds days. As, then, the days are a portion of life in its progress, so also fear is the beginning of love, becoming by development faith, then love. But it is not as I fear and hate a wild beast (since fear is twofold) that I fear the father, whom I fear and love at once. Again, fearing lest I be punished, I love myself in assuming fear. He who fears to offend his father, loves himself. Blessed then is he who is found possessed of faith, being, as he is, composed of love and fear. And faith is power in order to salvation, and strength to eternal life. Again, prophecy is foreknowledge; and knowledge the understanding of prophecy; being the knowledge of those things known before by the Lord who reveals all things.
The knowledge, then, of those things which have been predicted shows a threefold result—either one that has happened long ago, or exists now, or about to be. Then the extremes2275 either of what is accomplished or of what is hoped for fall under faith; and the present action furnishes persuasive arguments of the confirmation of both the extremes. For if, prophecy being one, one part is accomplishing and another is fulfilled; hence the truth, both what is hoped for and what is passed is confirmed. For it was first present; then it became past to us; so that the belief of what is past is the apprehension of a past event, and a hope which is future the apprehension of a future event.
And not only the Platonists, but the Stoics, say that assent is in our own power. All opinion then, and judgment, and supposition, and knowledge, by which we live and have perpetual intercourse with the human race, is an assent; which is nothing else than faith. And unbelief being defection from faith, shows both assent and faith to be possessed of power; for non-existence cannot be called privation. And if you consider the truth, you will find man naturally misled so as to give assent to what is false, though possessing the resources necessary for belief in the truth.
“The virtue, then, that encloses the Church in its grasp,” as the Shepherd says,2276 “is Faith, by which the elect of God are saved; and that which acts the man is Self-restraint. And these are followed by Simplicity, Knowledge, Innocence, Decorum, Love,” and all these are the daughters of Faith. And again, “Faith leads the way, fear upbuilds, and love perfects.”
Accordingly he2277 says, the Lord is to be feared in order to edification, but not the devil to destruction. And again, the works of the Lord—that is, His commandments—are to be loved and done; but the works of the devil are to be dreaded and not done. For the fear of God trains and restores to love; but the fear of the works of the devil has hatred dwelling along with it. The same also says “that repentance is high intelligence. For he that repents of what he did, no longer does or says as he did. But by torturing himself for his sins, he benefits his soul. Forgiveness of sins is therefore different from repentance; but both show what is in our power.”
Chapter XIII. — On First and Second Repentance.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.xiii.html
He, then, who has received the forgiveness of sins ought to sin no more. For, in addition to the first and only repentance from sins (this is from the previous sins in the first and heathen life—I mean that in ignorance), there is forthwith proposed to those who have been called, the repentance which cleanses the seat of the soul from transgressions, that faith may be established.
And the Lord, knowing the heart, and foreknowing the future, foresaw both the fickleness of man and the craft and subtlety of the devil from the first, from the beginning; how that, envying man for the forgiveness of sins, he would present to the servants of God certain causes of sins; skilfully working mischief, that they might fall together with himself. Accordingly, being very merciful, He has vouch-safed, in the case of those who, though in faith, fall into any transgression, a second repentance; so that should any one be tempted after his calling, overcome by force and fraud, he may receive still a repentance not to be repented of.
“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”2278 But continual and successive repentings for sins differ nothing from the case of those who have not believed at all, except only in their consciousness that they do sin. And I know not which of the two is worst, whether the case of a man who sins knowingly, or of one who, after having repented of his sins, transgresses again.
For in the process of proof sin appears on each side,—the sin which in its commission is condemned by the worker of the iniquity, and that of the man who, foreseeing what is about to be done, yet puts his hand to it as a wickedness. And he who perchance gratifies himself in anger and pleasure, gratifies himself in he knows what; and he who, repenting of that in which he gratified himself, by rushing again into pleasure, is near neighbour to him who has sinned wilfully at first. For one, who does again that of which he has repented, 361 and condemning what he does, performs it willingly.
He, then, who from among the Gentiles and from that old life has betaken himself to faith, has obtained forgiveness of sins once. But he who has sinned after this, on his repentance, though he obtain pardon, ought to fear, as one no longer washed to the forgiveness of sins. For not only must the idols which he formerly held as gods, but the works also of his former life, be abandoned by him who has been “born again, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh,”2279 but in the Spirit; which consists in repenting by not giving way to the same fault.
For frequent repentance and readiness to change easily from want of training, is the practice of sin again.2280 The frequent asking of forgiveness, then, for those things in which we often transgress, is the semblance of repentance, not repentance itself. “But the righteousness of the blameless cuts straight paths,”2281 says the Scripture. And again, “The righteousness of the innocent will make his way right.”2282 Nay, “as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.”2283
David writes, “They who sow,” then, “in tears, shall reap in joy;”2284 those, namely, who confess in penitence. “For blessed are all those that fear the Lord.”2285 You see the corresponding blessing in the Gospel. “Fear not,” it is said, “when a man is enriched, and when the glory of his house is increased: because when he dieth he shall leave all, and his glory shall not descend after him.”2286“But I in Thy I mercy will enter into Thy house. I will worship toward Thy holy temple, in Thy fear: Lord, lead me in Thy righteousness.”2287
Appetite is then the movement of the mind to or from something.2288 Passion is an excessive appetite exceeding the measures of reason, or appetite unbridled and disobedient to the word. Passions, then, are a perturbation of the soul contrary to nature, in disobedience to reason. But revolt and distraction and disobedience are in our own power, as obedience is in our power. Wherefore voluntary actions are judged. But should one examine each one of the passions, he will find them irrational impulses.
Chapter XIV. — How a Thing May Be Involuntary.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.xiv.html
What is involuntary is not matter for judgment. But this is twofold,—what is done in ignorance, and what is done through necessity. For how will you judge concerning those who are said to sin in involuntary modes? For either one knew not himself, as Cleomenes and Athamas, who were mad; or the thing which he does, as Æschylus, who divulged the mysteries on the stage, who, being tried in the Areopagus, was absolved on his showing that he had not been initiated.
Or one knows not what is done, as he who has let off his antagonist, and slain his domestic instead of his enemy; or that by which it is done, as he who, in exercising with spears having buttons on them, has killed some one in consequence of the spear throwing off the button; or knows not the manner how, as he who has killed his antagonist in the stadium, for it was not for his death but for victory that he contended; or knows not the reason why it is done, as the physician gave a salutary antidote and killed, for it was not for this purpose that he gave it, but to save.
The law at that time punished him who had killed involuntarily, as e.g., him who was subject involuntarily to gonorrhœa, but not equally with him who did so voluntarily. Although he also shall be punished as for a voluntary action, if one transfer the affection to the truth. For, in reality, he that cannot contain the generative word is to be punished; for this is an irrational passion of the soul approaching garrulity.
“The faithful man chooses to conceal things in his spirit.”2289 Things, then, that depend on choice are subjects for judgment. “For the Lord searcheth the hearts and reins.”2290 “And he that looketh so as to lust”2291 is judged. Wherefore it is said, “Thou shalt not lust.”2292 And “this people honoureth Me with their lips,” it is said, “but their heart is far from Me.”2293 For God has respect to the very thought, since Lot’s wife, who had merely voluntarily turned towards worldly wickedness, He left a senseless mass, rendering her a pillar of salt, and fixed her so that she advanced no further, not as a stupid and useless image, but to season and salt him who has the power of spiritual perception.
Chapter XV. — On the Different Kinds of Voluntary Actions, and the Sins Thence Proceeding.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.xv.html
What is voluntary is either what is by desire, or what is by choice, or what is of intention. Closely allied to each other are these things—sin, mistake, crime. It is sin, for example, to live luxuriously and licentiously; a misfortune, to wound one’s friend in ignorance, taking him for an enemy; and crime, to violate graves or 362 commit sacrilege.
Sinning arises from being unable to determine what ought to be done, or being unable to do it; as doubtless one falls into a ditch either through not knowing, or through inability to leap across through feebleness of body. But application to the training of ourselves, and subjection to the commandments, is in our own power; with which if we will have nothing to do, by abandoning ourselves wholly to lust, we shall sin, nay rather, wrong our own soul. For the noted Laius says in the tragedy:—
“None of these things of which you admonish me have escaped me;
But notwithstanding that I am in my senses, Nature compels me;”
i.e., his abandoning himself to passion. Medea, too, herself cries on the stage:—
“And I am aware what evils I am to perpetrate,
But passion is stronger than my resolutions.”2294
Further, not even Ajax is silent; but, when about to kill himself, cries:—
“No pain gnaws the soul of a free man like dishonour.
Thus do I suffer; and the deep stain of calamity
Ever stirs me from the depths, agitated
By the bitter stings of rage.”2295
Anger made these the subjects of tragedy, and lust made ten thousand others—Phædra, Anthia, Eriphyle,—
“Who took the precious gold for her dear husband.”
For another play represents Thrasonides of the comic drama as saying:—
“A worthless wench made me her slave.”
Mistake is a sin contrary to calculation; and voluntary sin is crime (ἀδικία); and crime is voluntary wickedness. Sin, then, is on my part voluntary. Wherefore says the apostle, “Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”2296 Addressing those who have believed, he says, “For by His stripes we were healed.”2297
Mistake is the involuntary action of another towards me, while a crime (ἀδικία) alone is voluntary, whether my act or another’s. These differences of sins are alluded to by the Psalmist, when he calls those blessed whose iniquities (ἀνομίας) God hath blotted out, and whose sins (ἁμαρτίας) He hath covered. Others He does not impute, and the rest He forgives. For it is written, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin, and in whose mouth there is no fraud.”2298 This blessedness came on those who had been chosen by God through Jesus Christ our Lord. For “love hides the multitude of sins.”2299 And they are blotted out by Him “who desireth the repentance rather than the death of a sinner.”2300 And those are not reckoned that are not the effect of choice; “for he who has lusted has already committed adultery,”2301 it is said.
And the illuminating Word forgives sins: “And in that time, saith the Lord, they shall seek for the iniquity of Israel, and it shall not exist; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found.”2302 “For who is like Me? and who shall stand before My face?2303 You see the one God declared good, rendering according to desert, and forgiving sins. John, too, manifestly teaches the differences of sins, in his larger Epistle, in these words: “If any man see his brother sin a sin that is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life: for these that sin not unto death,” he says. For “there is a sin unto death: I do not say that one is to pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin; and there is a sin not unto death.”2304
David, too, and Moses before David, show the knowledge of the three precepts in the following words: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly;” as the fishes go down to the depths in darkness; for those which have not scales, which Moses prohibits touching, feed at the bottom of the sea. “Nor standeth in the way of sinners,” as those who, while appearing to fear the Lord, commit sin, like the sow, for when hungry it cries, and when full knows not its owner. “Nor sitteth in the chair of pestilences,” as birds ready for prey.
And Moses enjoined not to eat the sow, nor the eagle, nor the hawk, nor the raven, nor any fish without scales. So far Barnabas.2305 And I heard one skilled in such matters say that “the counsel of the ungodly” was the heathen, and “the way of sinners” the Jewish persuasion, and explain “the chair of pestilence” of heresies. And another said, with more propriety, that the first blessing was assigned to those who had not followed wicked sentiments which revolt from God; the second to those who do not remain in the wide and broad road, whether they be those who have been brought up in the law, or Gentiles who have repented.
And “the chair of pestilences” will be the theatres and tribunals, or rather the compliance with wicked and deadly powers, and complicity with their deeds. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord.”2306 Peter in his Preaching 363 called the Lord, Law and Logos. The legislator seems to teach differently the interpretation of the three forms of sin—understanding by the mute fishes sins of word, for there are times in which silence is better than speech, for silence has a safe recompense; sins of deed, by the rapacious and carnivorous birds. The sow delights in dirt and dung; and we ought not to have “a conscience” that is “defiled.”2307
Justly, therefore, the prophet says, “The ungodly are not so: but as the chaff which the wind driveth away from the face of the earth. Wherefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment”2308 (being already condemned, for “he that believeth not is condemned already”2309), “nor sinners in the counsel of the righteous,” inasmuch as they are already condemned, so as not to be united to those that have lived without stumbling. “For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous; and the way of the ungodly shall perish.”2310
Again, the Lord clearly shows sins and transgressions to be in our own power, by prescribing modes of cure corresponding to the maladies; showing His wish that we should be corrected by the shepherds, in Ezekiel; blaming, I am of opinion, some of them for not keeping the commandments. “That which was enfeebled ye have not strengthened,” and so forth, down to, “and there was none to search out or turn away.”2311
For “great is the joy before the Father when one sinner is saved,”2312 saith the Lord. So Abraham was much to be praised, because “he walked as the Lord spake to him.” Drawing from this instance, one of the wise men among the Greeks uttered the maxim, “Follow God.”2313 “The godly,” says Esaias, “framed wise counsels.”2314
Now counsel is seeking for the right way of acting in present circumstances, and good counsel is wisdom in our counsels. And what? Does not God, after the pardon bestowed on Cain, suitably not long after introduce Enoch, who had repented?2315 showing that it is the nature of repentance to produce pardon; but pardon does not consist in remission, but in remedy.
An instance of the same is the making of the calf by the people before Aaron. Thence one of the wise men among the Greeks uttered the maxim, “Pardon is better than punishment;” as also, “Become surety, and mischief is at hand,” is derived from the utterance of Solomon which says, “My son, if thou become surety for thy friend, thou wilt give thine hand to thy enemy; for a man’s own lips are a strong snare to him, and he is taken in the words of his own mouth.”2316
And the saying, “Know thyself,” has been taken rather more mystically from this, “Thou hast seen thy brother, thou hast seen thy God.”2317 Thus also, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself;” for it is said, “On these commandments the law and the prophets hang and are suspended.”2318
With these also agree the following: “These things have I spoken to you, that My joy might be fulfilled: and this is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”2319 “For the Lord is merciful and pitiful; and gracious2320 is the Lord to all.”2321 “Know thyself” is more clearly and often expressed by Moses, when he enjoins, “Take heed to thyself.”2322 “By alms then, and acts of faith, sins are purged.”2323 “And by the fear of the Lord each one departs from evil.”2324 “And the fear of the Lord is instruction and wisdom.”2325
Chapter XVI. — How We are to Explain the Passages of Scripture Which Ascribe to God Human Affections.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.xvi.html
Here again arise the cavillers, who say that joy and pain are passions of the soul: for they define joy as a rational elevation and exultation, as rejoicing on account of what is good; and pity as pain for one who suffers undeservedly; and that such affections are moods and passions of the soul. But we, as would appear, do not cease in such matters to understand the Scriptures carnally; and starting from our own affections, interpret the will of the impassible Deity similarly to our perturbations; and as we are capable of hearing; so, supposing the same to be the case with the Omnipotent, err impiously.
For the Divine Being cannot be declared as it exists: but as we who are fettered in the flesh were able to listen, so the prophets spake to us; the Lord savingly accommodating Himself to the weakness of men.2326 Since, then, it is the will of God that he, who is obedient to the commands and repents of his sins should be saved, and we rejoice on account of our salvation, the Lord, speaking by the prophets, appropriated our joy to Himself; 364 as speaking lovingly in the Gospel He says, “I was hungry, and ye gave Me to eat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me to drink. For inasmuch as ye did it to one of the least of these, ye did it to Me.”2327
As, then, He is nourished, though not personally, by the nourishing of one whom He wishes nourished; so He rejoices, without suffering change, by reason of him who has repented being in joy, as He wished. And since God pities richly, being good, and giving commands by the law and the prophets, and more nearly still by the appearance of his Son, saving and pitying, as was said, those who have found mercy; and properly the greater pities the less; and a man cannot be greater than man, being by nature man; but God in everything is greater than man; if, then, the greater pities the less, it is God alone that will pity us.
For a man is made to communicate by righteousness, and bestows what he received from God, in consequence of his natural benevolence and relation, and the commands which he obeys. But God has no natural relation to us, as the authors of the heresies will have it; neither on the supposition of His having made us of nothing, nor on that of having formed us from matter; since the former did not exist at all, and the latter is totally distinct from God unless we shall dare to say that we are a part of Him, and of the same essence as God.
And I know not how one, who knows God, can bear to hear this when he looks to our life, and sees in what evils we are involved. For thus it would turn out, which it were impiety to utter, that God sinned in [certain] portions, if the portions are parts of the whole and complementary of the whole; and if not complementary, neither can they be parts. But God being by nature rich in pity, in consequence of His own goodness, cares for us, though neither portions of Himself, nor by nature His children.
And this is the greatest proof of the goodness of God: that such being our relation to Him, and being by nature wholly estranged, He nevertheless cares for us. For the affection in animals to their progeny is natural, and the friendship of kindred minds is the result of intimacy. But the mercy of God is rich toward us, who are in no respect related to Him; I say either in our essence or nature, or in the peculiar energy of our essence, but only in our being the work of His will.
And him who willingly, with discipline and teaching, accepts the knowledge of the truth, He calls to adoption, which is the greatest advancement of all. “Transgressions catch a man; and in the cords of his own sins each one is bound.”2328 And God is without blame. And in reality, “blessed is the man who feareth alway through piety.”2329
Chapter XVII. — On the Various Kinds of Knowledge.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.xvii.html
As, then, Knowledge (ἐπιστήμη) is an intellectual state, from which results the act of knowing, and becomes apprehension irrefragable by reason; so also ignorance is a receding impression, which can be dislodged by reason. And that which is overthrown as well as that which is elaborated by reason, is in our power. Akin to Knowledge is experience, cognition (εἴδησις), Comprehension (σύνεσις), perception, and Science. Cognition (εἴδησις) is the knowledge of universals by species; and Experience is comprehensive knowledge, which investigates the nature of each thing.
Perception (νόησις) is the knowledge of intellectual objects; and Comprehension (σύνεσις) is the knowledge of what is compared, or a comparison that cannot be annulled, or the faculty of comparing the objects with which Judgment and Knowledge are occupied, both of one and each and all that goes to make up one reason. And Science (γνῶσις) is the knowledge of the thing in itself, or the knowledge which harmonizes with what takes place.
Truth is the knowledge of the true; and the mental habit of truth is the knowledge of the things which are true. Now knowledge is constituted by the reason, and cannot be overthrown by another reason.2330 What we do not, we do not either from not being able, or not being willing—or both.
Accordingly we don’t fly, since we neither can nor wish; we do not swim at present, for example, since we can indeed, but do not choose; and we are not as the Lord, since we wish, but cannot be: “for no disciple is above his master, and it is sufficient if we be as the master:”2331 not in essence (for it is impossible for that, which is by adoption, to be equal in substance to that, which is by nature); but [we are as Him] only in our2332 having been made immortal, and our being conversant with the contemplation of realities, and beholding the Father through what belongs to Him.
Therefore volition takes the precedence of all; for the intellectual powers are ministers of the Will. “Will,” it is said, “and thou shalt be able.”2333 And in the Gnostic, Will, Judgment, and Exertion are identical. For if the determinations are the same, the opinions and judgments will be the same too; so that both his words, and life, and conduct, are conformable to rule. “And a right heart seeketh knowledge, 365 and heareth it.” “God taught me wisdom, and I knew the knowledge of the holy.”2334
Chapter XVIII. — The Mosaic Law the Fountain of All Ethics, and the Source from Which the Greeks Drew Theirs.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.xviii.html
It is then clear also that all the other virtues, delineated in Moses, supplied the Greeks with the rudiments of the whole department of morals. I mean valour, and temperance, and wisdom, and justice, and endurance, and patience, and decorum, and self-restraint; and in addition to these, piety.
But it is clear to every one that piety, which teaches to worship and honour, is the highest and oldest cause; and the law itself exhibits justice, and teaches wisdom, by abstinence from sensible images, and by inviting to the Maker and Father of the universe. And from this sentiment, as from a fountain, all intelligence increases. “For the sacrifices of the wicked are abomination to the Lord; but the prayers of the upright are acceptable before Him,”2336 since “righteousness is more acceptable before God than sacrifice.”
Such also as the following we find in Isaiah: “To what purpose to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? saith the Lord;” and the whole section.2337 “Break every bond of wickedness; for this is the sacrifice that is acceptable to the Lord, a contrite heart that seeks its Maker.”2338 “Deceitful balances are abomination before God; but a just balance is acceptable to Him.”2339 Thence Pythagoras exhorts “not to step over the balance;” and the profession of heresies is called deceitful righteousness; and “the tongue of the unjust shall be destroyed, but the mouth of the righteous droppeth wisdom.”2340
“For they call the wise and prudent worthless.”2341 But it were tedious to adduce testimonies respecting these virtues, since the whole Scripture celebrates them. Since, then, they define manliness to be knowledge2342 of things formidable, and not formidable, and what is intermediate; and temperance to be a state of mind which by choosing and avoiding preserves the judgments of wisdom; and conjoined with manliness is patience, which is called endurance, the knowledge of what is bearable and what is unbearable; and magnanimity is the knowledge which rises superior to circumstances.
With temperance also is conjoined caution, which is avoidance in accordance with reason. And observance of the commandments, which is the innoxious keeping of them, is the attainment of a secure life. And there is no endurance without manliness, nor the exercise of self-restraint without temperance. And these virtues follow one another; and with whom are the sequences of the virtues, with him is also salvation, which is the keeping of the state of well-being.
Rightly, therefore, in treating of these virtues, we shall inquire into them all; for he that has one virtue gnostically, by reason of their accompanying each other, has them all. Self-restraint is that quality which does not overstep what appears in accordance with right reason. He exercises self-restraint, who curbs the impulses that are contrary to right reason, or curbs himself so as not to indulge in desires contrary to right reason.
Temperance, too, is not without manliness; since from the commandments spring both wisdom, which follows God who enjoins, and that which imitates the divine character, namely righteousness; in virtue of which, in the exercise of self-restraint, we address ourselves in purity to piety and the course of conduct thence resulting, in conformity with God; being assimilated to the Lord as far as is possible for us beings mortal in nature.
And this is being just and holy with wisdom; for the Divinity needs nothing and suffers nothing; whence it is not, strictly speaking, capable of self-restraint, for it is never subjected to perturbation, over which to exercise control; while our nature, being capable of perturbation, needs self-constraint, by which disciplining itself to the need of little, it endeavours to approximate in character to the divine nature. For the good man, standing as the boundary between an immortal and a mortal nature, has few needs; having wants in consequence of his body, and his birth itself, but taught by rational self-control to want few things.
What reason is there in the law’s prohibiting a man from “wearing woman’s clothing “?2343 Is it not that it would have us to be manly, and not to be effeminate neither in person and actions, nor in thought and word? For it would have the man, that devotes himself to the truth, to be masculine both in acts of endurance and patience, in life, conduct, word, and discipline by night and by day; even if the necessity were to occur, of witnessing by the shedding of his blood.
Again, it is said, “If any one who has newly built a house, and has not previously inhabited it; or cultivated a newly-planted vine, and not yet partaken of the fruit; or betrothed a virgin, and not yet married her;”2344—such the humane law orders to be relieved from military service: from military reasons in the first place, lest, bent on 366 their desires, they turn out sluggish in war; for it is those who are untrammelled by passion that boldly encounter perils; and from motives of humanity, since, in view of the uncertainties of war, the law reckoned it not right that one should not enjoy his own labours, and another should without bestowing pains, receive what belonged to those who had laboured.
The law seems also to point out manliness of soul, by enacting that he who had planted should reap the fruit, and he that built should inhabit, and he that had betrothed should marry: for it is not vain hopes which it provides for those who labour; according to the gnostic word: “For the hope of a good man dead or living does not perish,”2345 says Wisdom; “I love them that love me; and they who seek me shall find peace,”2346 and so forth. What then?
Did not the women of the Midianites, by their beauty, seduce from wisdom into impiety, through licentiousness, the Hebrews when making war against them? For, having seduced them from a grave mode of life, and by their beauty ensnared them in wanton delights, they made them insane upon idol sacrifices and strange women; and overcome by women and by pleasure at once, they revolted from God, and revolted from the law. And the whole people was within a little of falling under the power of the enemy through female stratagem, until, when they were in peril, fear by its admonitions pulled them back.
Then the survivors, valiantly undertaking the struggle for piety, got the upper hand of their foes. “The beginning, then, of wisdom is piety, and the knowledge of holy things is understanding; and to know the law is the characteristic of a good understanding.”2347 Those, then, who suppose the law to be productive of agitating fear, are neither good at understanding the law, nor have they in reality comprehended it; for “the fear of the Lord causes life, but he who errs shall be afflicted with pangs which knowledge views not.”2348
Accordingly, Barnabas says mystically, “May God who rules the universe vouchsafe also to you wisdom, and understanding, and science, and knowledge of His statutes, and patience. Be therefore God-taught, seeking what the Lord seeks from you, that He may find you in the day of judgment lying in wait for these things.” “Children of love and peace,” he called them gnostically.2349
Respecting imparting and communicating, though much might be said, let it suffice to remark that the law prohibits a brother from taking usury: designating as a brother not only him who is born of the same parents, but also one of the same race and sentiments, and a participator in the same word; deeming it right not to take usury for money, but with open hands and heart to bestow on those who need. For God, the author and the dispenser of such grace, takes as suitable usury the most precious things to be found among men—mildness, gentleness, magnanimity, reputation, renown.
Do you not regard this command as marked by philanthropy? As also the following, “To pay the wages of the poor daily,” teaches to discharge without delay the wages due for service; for, as I think, the alacrity of the poor with reference to the future is paralyzed when he has suffered want. Further, it is said, “Let not the creditor enter the debtor’s house to take the pledge with violence.”
But let the former ask it to be brought out, and let not the latter, if he have it, hesitate.2350 And in the harvest the owners are prohibited from appropriating what falls from the handfuls; as also in reaping [the law] enjoins a part to be left unreaped; signally thereby training those who possess to sharing and to large-heartedness, by foregoing of their own to those who are in want, and thus providing means of subsistence for the poor.2351
You see how the law proclaims at once the righteousness and goodness of God, who dispenses food to all ungrudgingly. And in the vintage it prohibited the grape-gatherers from going back again on what had been left, and from gathering the fallen grapes; and the same injunctions are given to the olive-gatherers.2352 Besides, the tithes of the fruits and of the flocks taught both piety towards the Deity, and not covetously to grasp everything, but to communicate gifts of kindness to one’s neighbours.
For it was from these, I reckon, and from the first-fruits that the priests were maintained. We now therefore understand that we are instructed in piety, and in liberality, and in justice, and in humanity by the law. For does it not command the land to be left fallow in the seventh year, and bids the poor fearlessly use the fruits that grow by divine agency, nature cultivating the ground for behoof of all and sundry?2353 How, then, can it be maintained that the law is not humane, and the teacher of righteousness?
Again, in the fiftieth year, it ordered the same things to be performed as in the seventh; besides restoring to each one his own land, if from any circumstance he had parted with it in the meantime; setting bounds to the desires of those who covet possession, by measuring the period of enjoyment, and choosing that those who have paid the penalty of protracted penury should not suffer a life-long punishment. “But alms and acts of faith are royal guards, and blessing is on 367 the head of him who bestows; and he who pities the poor shall be blessed.”2354
For he shows love to one like himself, because of his love to the Creator of the human race. The above-mentioned particulars have other explanations more natural, both respecting rest and the recovery of the inheritance; but they are not discussed at present.
Now love is conceived in many ways, in the form of meekness, of mildness, of patience, of liberality, of freedom from envy, of absence of hatred, of forgetfulness of injuries. In all it is incapable of being divided or distinguished: its nature is to communicate. Again, it is said, “If you see the beast of your relatives, or friends, or, in general, of anybody you know, wandering in the wilderness, take it back and restore it;2355 and if the owner be far away, keep it among your own till he return, and restore it.”
It teaches a natural communication, that what is found is to be regarded as a deposit, and that we are not to bear malice to an enemy. “The command of the Lord being a fountain of life” truly, “causeth to turn away from the snare of death.”2356 And what? Does it not command us “to love strangers not only as friends and relatives, but as ourselves, both in body and soul?”2357 Nay more, it honoured the nations, and bears no grudge2358 against those who have done ill.
Accordingly it is expressly said, “Thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian, for thou wast a sojourner in Egypt;”2359 designating by the term Egyptian either one of that race, or any one in the world. And enemies, although drawn up before the walls attempting to take the city, are not to be regarded as enemies till they are by the voice of the herald summoned to peace.2360
Further, it forbids intercourse with a female captive so as to dishonour her. “But allow her,” it says, “thirty days to mourn according to her wish, and changing her clothes, associate with her as your lawful wife.”2361 For it regards it not right that this should take place either in wantonness or for hire like harlots, but only for the birth of children.
Do you see humanity combined with continence? The master who has fallen in love with his captive maid it does not allow to gratify his pleasure, but puts a check on his lust by specifying an interval of time; and further, it cuts off the captive’s hair, in order to shame disgraceful love: for if it is reason that induces him to marry, he will cleave to her even after she has become disfigured. Then if one, after his lust, does not care to consort any longer with the captive, it ordains that it shall not be lawful to sell her, or to have her any longer as a servant, but desires her to be freed and released from service, lest on the introduction of another wife she bear any of the intolerable miseries caused through jealousy.
What more? The Lord enjoins to ease and raise up the beasts of enemies when labouring beneath their burdens; remotely teaching us not to indulge in joy at our neighbour’s ills, or exult over our enemies; in order to teach those who are trained in these things to pray for their enemies. For He does not allow us either to grieve at our neighbour’s good, or to reap joy at our neighbour’s ill. And if you find any enemy’s beast straying, you are to pass over the incentives of difference, and take it back and restore it.
For oblivion of injuries is followed by goodness, and the latter by dissolution of enmity. From this we are fitted for agreement, and this conducts to felicity. And should you suppose one habitually hostile, and discover him to be unreasonably mistaken either through lust or anger, turn him to goodness. Does the law then which conducts to Christ appear humane and mild? And does not the same God, good, while characterized by righteousness from the beginning to the end, employ each kind suitably in order to salvation?
“Be merciful,” says the Lord, “that you may receive mercy; forgive, that you may be forgiven. As ye do, so shall it be done to you; as ye give, so shall it be given to you; as ye judge, so shall ye be judged; as ye show kindness, so shall kindness be shown to you: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”2362 Furthermore, [the law] prohibits those, who are in servitude for their subsistence, to be branded with disgrace; and to those, who have been reduced to slavery through money borrowed, it gives a complete release in the seventh year.
Further, it prohibits suppliants from being given up to punishment. True above all, then, is that oracle. “As gold and silver are tried in the furnace, so the Lord chooseth men’s hearts. The merciful man is long-suffering; and in every one who shows solicitude there is wisdom. For on a wise man solicitude will fall; and exercising thought, he will seek life; and he who seeketh God shall find knowledge with righteousness. And they who have sought Him rightly have found peace.”2363
And Pythagoras seems to me, to have derived his mildness towards irrational creatures from the law. For instance, he interdicted the immediate use of the young in the flocks of sheep, and goats, and herds of cattle, on the instant of their 368 birth; not even on the pretext of sacrifice allowing it, both on account of the young ones and of the mothers; training man to gentleness by what is beneath him, by means of the irrational creatures. “Resign accordingly,” he says, “the young one to its dam for even the first seven days.”
For if nothing takes place without a cause, and milk comes in a shower to animals in parturition for the sustenance of the progeny, he that tears that, which has been brought forth, away from the supply of the milk, dishonours nature. Let the Greeks, then, feel ashamed, and whoever else inveighs against the law; since it shows mildness in the case of the irrational creatures, while they expose the offspring of men; though long ago and prophetically, the law, in the above-mentioned commandment, threw a check in the way of their cruelty.
For if it prohibits the progeny of the irrational creatures to be separated from the dam before sucking, much more in the case of men does it provide beforehand a cure for cruelty and savageness of disposition; so that even if they despise nature, they may not despise teaching. For they are permitted to satiate themselves with kids and lambs, and perhaps there might be some excuse for separating the progeny from its dam. But what cause is there for the exposure of a child? For the man who did not desire to beget children had no right to marry at first; certainly not to have become, through licentious indulgence, the murderer of his children.
Again, the humane law forbids slaying the offspring and the dam together on the same day. Thence also the Romans, in the case of a pregnant woman being condemned to death, do not allow her to undergo punishment till she is delivered. The law too, expressly prohibits the slaying of such animals as are pregnant till they have brought forth, remotely restraining the proneness of man to do wrong to man. Thus also it has extended its clemency to the irrational creatures; that from the exercise of humanity in the case of creatures of different species, we might practice among those of the same species a large abundance of it.
Those, too, that kick the bellies of certain animals before parturition, in order to feast on flesh mixed with milk, make the womb created for the birth of the fœtus its grave, though the law expressly commands, “But neither shalt thou seethe a lamb in its mother’s milk.”2364 For the nourishment of the living animal, it is meant, may not become sauce for that which has been deprived of life; and that, which is the cause of life, may not co-operate in the consumption of the body. And the same law commands “not to muzzle the ox which treadeth out the corn: for the labourer must be reckoned worthy of his food.”2365
And it prohibits an ox and ass to be yoked in the plough together;2366 pointing perhaps to the want of agreement in the case of the animals; and at the same time teaching not to wrong any one belonging to another race, and bring him under the yoke, when there is no other cause to allege than difference of race, which is no cause at all, being neither wickedness nor the effect of wickedness.
To me the allegory also seems to signify that the husbandry of the Word is not to be assigned equally to the clean and the unclean, the believer and the unbeliever; for the ox is clean, but the ass has been reckoned among the unclean animals. But the benignant Word, abounding in humanity, teaches that neither is it right to cut down cultivated trees, or to cut down the grain before the harvest, for mischiefs sake; nor that cultivated fruit is to be destroyed at all—either the fruit of the soil or that of the soul: for it does not permit the enemy’s country to be laid waste.
Further, husbandmen derived advantage from the law in such things. For it orders newly planted trees to be nourished three years in succession, and the superfluous growths to be cut off, to prevent them being loaded and pressed down; and to prevent their strength being exhausted from want, by the nutriment being frittered away, enjoins tilling and digging round them, so that [the tree] may not, by sending out suckers, hinder its growth. And it does not allow imperfect fruit to be plucked from immature trees, but after three years, in the fourth year; dedicating the first-fruits to God after the tree has attained maturity.
This type of husbandry may serve as a mode of instruction, teaching that we must cut the growths of sins, and the useless weeds of the mind that spring up round the vital fruit, till the shoot of faith is perfected and becomes strong.2367 For in the fourth year, since there is need of time to him that is being solidly catechized, the four virtues are consecrated to God, the third alone being already joined to the fourth,2368 the person of the Lord.
And a sacrifice of praise is above holocausts: “for He,” it is said, “giveth strength to get power.”2369And if your affairs are in the sunshine of prosperity, get and keep strength, and acquire power in knowledge. For by these instances it is shown that both good things and gifts are supplied by God; and that we, becoming ministers of the divine grace, ought to sow the benefits of God, and make those who approach us noble and 369 good; so that, as far as possible, the temperate man may make others continent, he that is manly may make them noble, he that is wise may make them intelligent, and the just may make them just.
Chapter XIX. — The True Gnostic is an Imitator of God, Especially in Beneficence.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.xix.html
He is the Gnostic, who is after the image and likeness of God, who imitates God as far as possible, deficient in none of the things which contribute to the likeness as far as compatible, practising self-restraint and endurance, living righteously, reigning over the passions, bestowing of what he has as far as possible, and doing good both by word and deed. “He is the greatest,” it is said, “in the kingdom who shall do and teach;”2370 imitating God in conferring like benefits.
For God’s gifts are for the common good. “Whoever shall attempt to do aught with presumption, provokes God,”2371 it is said. For haughtiness is a vice of the soul, of which, as of other sins, He commands us to repent; by adjusting our lives from their state of derangement to the change for the better in these three things—mouth, heart, hands. These are signs—the hands of action, the heart of volition, the mouth of speech.
Beautifully, therefore, has this oracle been spoken with respect to penitents: “Thou hast chosen God this day to be thy God; and God hath chosen thee this day to be His people.”2372 For him who hastes to serve the self-existent One, being a suppliant,2373 God adopts to Himself; and though he be only one in number, he is honoured equally with the people. For being a part of the people, he becomes complementary of it, being restored from what he was; and the whole is named from a part.
But nobility is itself exhibited in choosing and practising what is best. For what benefit to Adam was such a nobility as he had? No mortal was his father; for he himself was father of men that are born. What is base he readily chose, following his wife, and neglected what is true and good; on which account he exchanged his immortal life for a mortal life, but not for ever. And Noah, whose origin was not the same as Adam’s, was saved by divine care. For he took and consecrated himself to God.
And Abraham, who had children by three wives, not for the indulgence of pleasure, but in the hope, as I think, of multiplying the race at the first, was succeeded by one alone, who was heir of his father’s blessings, while the rest were separated from the family; and of the twins who sprang from him, the younger having won his father’s favour and received his prayers, became heir, and the elder served him. For it is the greatest boon to a bad man not to be master of himself.2374
And this arrangement was prophetical and typical. And that all things belong to the wise, Scripture clearly indicates when it is said, “Because God hath had mercy on me, I have all things.”2375 For it teaches that we are to desire one thing, by which are all things, and what is promised is assigned to the worthy.
Accordingly, the good man who has become heir of the kingdom, it registers also as fellow-citizen, through divine wisdom, with the righteous of the olden time, who under the law and before the law lived according to law, whose deeds have become laws to us; and again, teaching that the wise man is king, introduces people of a different race, saying to him, “Thou art a king before God among us;”2376 those who were governed obeying the good man of their own accord, from admiration of his virtue.
Now Plato the philosopher, defining the end of happiness, says that it is likeness to God as far as possible; whether concurring with the precept of the law (for great natures that are free of passions somehow hit the mark respecting the truth, as the Pythagorean Philo says in relating the history of Moses), or whether instructed by certain oracles of the time, thirsting as he always was for instruction. For the law says, “Walk after the Lord your God, and keep my commandments.”2377
For the law calls assimilation following; and such a following to the utmost of its power assimilates. “Be,” says the Lord, “merciful and pitiful, as your heavenly Father is pitiful.”2378 Thence also the Stoics have laid down the doctrine, that living agreeably to nature is the end, fitly altering the name of God into nature; since also nature extends to plants, to seeds, to trees, and to stones. It is therefore plainly said, “Bad men do not understand the law; but they who love the law fortify themselves with a wall.”2379 “For the wisdom of the clever knows its ways; but the folly of the foolish is in error.”2380 “For on whom will I look, but on him who is mild and gentle, and trembleth at my words?” says the prophecy.
We are taught that there are three kinds of friendship: and that of these the first and the best is that which results from virtue, for the love that is founded on reason is firm; that the second and intermediate is by way of recompense, and is social, liberal, and useful for life; for the friendship which is the result of favour is mutual. 370 And the third and last weassert to be that which is founded on intimacy; others, again, that it is that variable and changeable form which rests on pleasure.
And Hippodamus the Pythagorean seems to me to describe friendships most admirably: “That founded on knowledge of the gods, that founded on the gifts of men, and that on the pleasures of animals.” There is the friendship of a philosopher,—that of a man and that of an animal. For the image of God is really the man who does good, in which also he gets good: as the pilot at once saves, and is saved.
Wherefore, when one obtains his request, he does not say to the giver, Thou hast given well, but, Thou hast received well. So he receives who gives, and he gives who receives. “But the righteous pity and show mercy.”2381 “But the mild shall be inhabitants of the earth, and the innocent shall be left in it.
But the transgressors shall be extirpated from it.”2382And Homer seems to me to have said prophetically of the faithful, “Give to thy friend.” And an enemy must be aided, that he may not continue an enemy. For by help good feeling is compacted, and enmity dissolved. “But if there be present readiness of mind, according to what a man hath it is acceptable, and not according to what he hath not: for it is not that there be ease to others, but tribulation to you, but of equality at the present time,” and so forth.2383 “He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever,” the Scripture says.2384
For conformity with the image and likeness is not meant of the body (for it were wrong for what is mortal to be made like what is immortal), but in mind and reason, on which fitly the Lord impresses the seal of likeness, both in respect of doing good and of exercising rule. For governments are directed not by corporeal qualities, but by judgments of the mind. For by the counsels of holy men states are managed well, and the household also.
Chapter XX. — The True Gnostic Exercises Patience and Self-Restraint.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.xx.html
Endurance also itself forces its way to the divine likeness, reaping as its fruit impassibility through patience, if what is related of Ananias be kept in mind; who belonged to a number, of whom Daniel the prophet, filled with divine faith, was one. Daniel dwelt at Babylon, as Lot at Sodom, and Abraham, who a little after became the friend of God, in the land of Chaldea.
The king of the Babylonians let Daniel down into a pit full of wild beasts; the King of all, the faithful Lord, took him up unharmed. Such patience will the Gnostic, as a Gnostic, possess. He will bless when under trial, like the noble Job; like Jonas, when swallowed up by the whale, he will pray, and faith will restore him to prophesy to the Ninevites; and though shut up with lions, he will tame the wild beasts; though cast into the fire, he will be besprinkled with dew, but not consumed.
He will give his testimony by night; he will testify by day; by word, by life, by conduct, he will testify. Dwelling with the Lord2385 he will continue his familiar friend, sharing the same hearth according to the Spirit; pure in the flesh, pure in heart, sanctified in word. “The world,” it is said, “is crucified to him, and he to the world.”2386 He, bearing about the cross of the Saviour, will follow the Lord’s footsteps, as God, having become holy of holies.
The divine law, then, while keeping in mind all virtue, trains man especially to self-restraint, laying this as the foundation of the virtues; and disciplines us beforehand to the attainment of self-restraint by forbidding us to partake of such things as are by nature fat, as the breed of swine, which is full-fleshed. For such a use is assigned to epicures.
It is accordingly said that one of the philosophers, giving the etymology of ὗς (sow), said that it was θύς, as being fit only for slaughter (θύσιν) and killing; for life was given to this animal for no other purpose than that it might swell in flesh. Similarly, repressing our desires, it forbade partaking of fishes which have neither fins nor scales; for these surpass other fishes in fleshiness and fatness.
From this it was, in my opinion, that the mysteries not only prohibited touching certain animals, but also withdrew certain parts of those slain in sacrifice, for reasons which are known to the initiated. If, then, we are to exercise control over the belly, and what is below the belly, it is clear that we have of old heard from the Lord that we are to check lust by the law.
And this will be completely effected, if we unfeignedly condemn what is the fuel of lust: I mean pleasure. Now they say that the idea of it is a gentle and bland excitement, accompanied with some sensation. Enthralled by this, Menelaus, they say, after the capture of Troy, having rushed to put Helen to death, as having been the cause of such calamities, was nevertheless not able to effect it, being subdued by her beauty, which made him think of pleasure. Whence the tragedians, jeering, exclaimed insultingly against him:—
“But thou, when on her breast thou lookedst, thy sword
Didst cast away, and with a kiss the traitress,
Ever-beauteous wretch,2387 thou didst embrace.”
“Was the sword then by beauty blunted?”
And I agree with Antisthenes when he says, “Could I catch Aphrodite, I would shoot her; for she has destroyed many of our beautiful and good women.” And he says that “Love2388 is a vice of nature, and the wretches who fall under its power call the disease a deity.” For in these words it is shown that stupid people are overcome from ignorance of pleasure, to which we ought to give no admittance, even though it be called a god, that is, though it be given by God for the necessity of procreation.
And Xenophon, expressly calling pleasure a vice, says: “Wretch, what good dost thou know, or what honourable aim hast thou? which does not even wait for the appetite for sweet things, eating before being hungry, drinking before being thirsty; and that thou mayest eat pleasantly, seeking out fine cooks; and that thou mayest drink pleasantly, procuring costly wines; and in summer runnest about seeking snow; and that thou mayest sleep pleasantly, not only providest soft beds, but also supports2389 to the couches.” Whence, as Aristo said, “against the whole tetrachord of pleasure, pain, fear, and lust, there is need of much exercise and struggle.”
“For it is these, it is these that go through our bowels,
And throw into disorder men’s hearts.”
“For the minds of those even who are deemed grave, pleasure makes waxen,” according to Plato; since “each pleasure and pain nails to the body the soul” of the man, that does not sever and crucify himself from the passions. “He that loses his life,” says the Lord, “shall save it;” either giving it up by exposing it to danger for the Lord’s sake, as He did for us, or loosing it from fellowship with its habitual life. For if you would loose, and withdraw, and separate (for this is what the cross means) your soul from the delight and pleasure that is in this life, you will possess it, found and resting in the looked-for hope.
And this would be the exercise of death, if we would be content with those desires which are measured according to nature alone, which do not pass the limit of those which are in accordance with nature—by going to excess, or going against nature—in which the possibility of sinning arises. “We must therefore put on the panoply of God, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil; since the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down reasonings, and every lofty thing which exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity unto the obedience of Christ,”2390 says the divine apostle.
There is need of a man who shall use in a praiseworthy and discriminating manner the things from which passions take their rise, as riches and poverty, honour and dishonour, health and sickness, life and death, toil and pleasure. For, in order that we may treat things, that are different, indifferently, there is need of a great difference in us, as having been previously afflicted with much feebleness, and in the distortion of a bad training and nurture ignorantly indulged ourselves.
The simple word, then, of our philosophy declares the passions to be impressions on the soul that is soft and yielding, and, as it were, the signatures of the spiritual powers with whom we have to struggle. For it is the business, in my opinion, of the malificent powers to endeavour to produce somewhat of their own constitution in everything, so as to overcome and make their own those who have renounced them.
And it follows, as might be expected, that some are worsted; but in the case of those who engage in the contest with more athletic energy, the powers mentioned above, after carrying on the conflict in all forms, and advancing even as far as the crown wading in gore, decline the battle, and admire the victors.
For of objects that are moved, some are moved by impulse and appearance, as animals; and some by transposition, as inanimate objects. And of things without life, plants, they say, are moved by transposition in order to growth, if we will concede to them that plants are without life. To stones, then, belongs a permanent state.
Plants have a nature; and the irrational animals possess impulse and perception, and likewise the two characteristics already specified.2391 But the reasoning faculty, being peculiar to the human soul, ought not to be impelled similarly with the irrational animals, but ought to discriminate appearances, and not to be carried away by them. The powers, then, of which we have spoken hold out beautiful sights, and honours, and adulteries, and pleasures, and such like alluring phantasies before facile spirits;2392 as those who drive away cattle hold out branches to them.
Then, having beguiled those incapable of distinguishing the true from the false pleasure, and the fading and meretricious from the holy beauty, they lead them into slavery. And each deceit, by pressing constantly on the spirit, impresses its image on it; and the soul unwittingly carries about the image of the passion, which takes its rise from the bait and our consent.
The adherents of Basilides are in the habit of 372 calling the passions appendages: saying that these are in essence certain spirits attached to the rational soul, through some original perturbation and confusion; and that, again, other bastard and heterogeneous natures of spirits grow on to them, like that of the wolf, the ape, the lion, the goat, whose properties showing themselves around the soul, they say, assimilate the lusts of the soul to the likeness of the animals.
For they imitate the actions of those whose properties they bear. And not only are they associated with the impulses and perceptions of the irrational animals, but they affect2393 the motions and the beauties of plants, on account of their bearing also the properties of plants attached to them. They have also the properties of a particular state, as the hardness of steel. But against this dogma we shall argue subsequently, when we treat of the soul. At present this only needs to be pointed out, that man, according to Basilides, preserves the appearance of a wooden horse, according to the poetic myth, embracing as he does in one body a host of such different spirits.
Accordingly, Basilides’ son himself, Isidorus, in his book, About the Soul attached to us, while agreeing in the dogma, as if condemning himself, writes in these words: “For if I persuade any one that the soul is undivided, and that the passions of the wicked are occasioned by the violence of the appendages, the worthless among men will have no slight pretence for saying, ‘I was compelled, I was carried away, I did it against my will, I acted unwillingly;’ though he himself led the desire of evil things, and did not fight against the assaults of the appendages. But we must, by acquiring superiority in the rational part, show ourselves masters of the inferior creation in us.” For he too lays down the hypothesis of two souls in us, like the Pythagoreans, at whom we shall glance afterwards.
Valentinus too, in a letter to certain people, writes in these very words respecting the appendages: “There is one good, by whose presence2394 is the manifestation, which is by the Son, and by Him alone can the heart become pure, by the expulsion of every evil spirit from the heart: for the multitude of spirits dwelling in it do not suffer it to be pure; but each of them performs his own deeds, insulting it oft with unseemly lusts. And the heart seems to be treated somewhat like a caravanserai.
For the latter has holes and ruts made in it, and is often filled with dung; men living filthily in it, and taking no care for the place as belonging to others. So fares it with the heart as long as there is no thought taken for it, being unclean, and the abode of many demons. But when the only good Father visits it, it is sanctified, and gleams with light. And he who possesses such a heart is so blessed, that “he shall see God.”2395
What, then, let them tell us, is the cause of such a soul not being cared for from the beginning? Either that it is not worthy (and somehow a care for it comes to it as from repentance), or it is a saved nature, as he would have it; and this, of necessity, from the beginning, being cared for by reason of its affinity, afforded no entrance to the impure spirits, unless by being forced and found feeble. For were he to grant that on repentance it preferred what was better, he will say this unwillingly, being what the truth we hold teaches; namely, that salvation is from a change due to obedience, but not from nature.
For as the exhalations which arise from the earth, and from marshes, gather into mists and cloudy masses; so the vapours of fleshly lusts bring on the soul an evil condition, scattering about the idols of pleasure before the soul. Accordingly they spread darkness over the light of intelligence, the spirit attracting the exhalations that arise from lust, and thickening the masses of the passions by persistency in pleasures. Gold is not taken from the earth in the lump, but is purified by smelting; then, when made pure, it is called gold, the earth being purified. For “Ask, and it shall be given you,”2396 it is said to those who are able of themselves to choose what is best.
And how we say that the powers of the devil, and the unclean spirits, sow into the sinner’s soul, requires no more words from me, on adducing as a witness the apostolic Barnabas (and he was one of the seventy,2397 and a fellow-worker of Paul), who speaks in these words: “Before we believed in God, the dwelling-place of our heart was unstable, truly a temple built with hands. For it was full of idolatry, and was a house of demons, through doing what was opposed to God.”2398
He says, then, that sinners exercise activities appropriate to demons; but he does not say that the spirits themselves dwell in the soul of the unbeliever. Wherefore he also adds, “See that the temple of the Lord be gloriously built. Learn, having received remission of sins; and having set our hope on the Name, let us become new, created again from the beginning.” For what he says is not that demons are driven out of us, but that the sins which like them we commit before believing are remitted. Rightly thus he puts in opposition what follows: “Wherefore God truly dwells in our home. He dwells in us. How? The word of His faith, the calling of His promise, the wisdom of His statutes, the 373 commandments of His communication, [dwell in us].”
“I know that I have come upon a heresy; and its chief was wont to say that he fought with pleasure by pleasure, this worthy Gnostic advancing on pleasure in feigned combat, for he said he was a Gnostic; since he said it was no great thing for a man that had not tried pleasure to abstain from it, but for one who had mixed in it not to be overcome [was something]; and that therefore by means of it he trained himself in it. The wretched man knew not that he was deceiving himself by the artfulness of voluptuousness. To this opinion, then, manifestly Aristippus the Cyrenian adhered—that of the sophist who boasted of the truth. Accordingly, when reproached for continually cohabiting with the Corinthian courtezan, he said, “I possess Lais, and am not possessed by her.”
Such also are those (who say that they follow Nicolaus, quoting an adage of the man, which they pervert,2399 “that the flesh must be abused.” But the worthy man showed that it was necessary to check pleasures and lusts, and by such training to waste away the impulses and propensities of the flesh. But they, abandoning themselves to pleasure like goats, as if insulting the body, lead a life of self-indulgence; not knowing that the body is wasted, being by nature subject to dissolution; while their soul is buried in the mire of vice; following as they do the teaching of pleasure itself, not of the apostolic man. For in what do they differ from Sardanapalus, whose life is shown in the epigram:—
“I have what I ate—what I enjoyed wantonly;
And the pleasures I felt in love. But those
Many objects of happiness are left,
For I too am dust, who ruled great Ninus.”
For the feeling of pleasure is not at all a necessity, but the accompaniment of certain natural needs—hunger, thirst, cold, marriage. If, then, it were possible to drink without it, or take food, or beget children, no other need of it could be shown. For pleasure is neither a function, nor a state, nor any part of us; but has been introduced into life as an auxiliary, as they say salt was to season food.
But when it casts off restraint and rules the house, it generates first concupiscence, which is an irrational propension and impulse towards that which gratifies it; and it induced Epicurus to lay down pleasure as the aim of the philosopher. Accordingly he deifies a sound condition of body, and the certain hope respecting it. For what else is luxury than the voluptuous gluttony and the superfluous abundance of those who are abandoned to self-indulgence? Diogenes writes significantly in a tragedy:—
“Who to the pleasures of effeminate
And filthy luxury attached in heart,
Wish not to undergo the slightest toil.”
And what follows, expressed indeed in foul language, but in a manner worthy of the voluptuaries.
Wherefore the divine law appears to me necessarily to menace with fear, that, by caution and attention, the philosopher may acquire and retain absence of anxiety, continuing without fall and without sin in all things. For peace and freedom are not otherwise won, than by ceaseless and unyielding struggles with our lusts. For these stout and Olympic antagonists are keener than wasps, so to speak; and Pleasure especially, not by day only, but by night, is in dreams with witchcraft ensnaringly plotting and biting.
How, then, can the Greeks any more be right in running down the law, when they themselves teach that Pleasure is the slave of fear? Socrates accordingly bids “people guard against enticements to eat when they are not hungry, and to drink when not thirsty, and the glances and kisses of the fair, as fitted to inject a deadlier poison than that of scorpions and spiders.” And Antisthenes chose rather “to be demented than delighted.” And the Theban Crates says:—
“Master these, exulting in the disposition of the soul,
Vanquished neither by gold nor by languishing love,
Nor are they any longer attendants to the wanton.”
And at length infers:—
“Those, unenslaved and unbended by servile Pleasure,
Love the immortal kingdom and freedom.”
He writes expressly, in other words, “that the stop2400 to the unbridled propensity to amorousness is hunger or a halter.”
And the comic poets attest, while they depreciate the teaching of Zeno the Stoic, to be to the following effect:—
“For he philosophizes a vain philosophy:
He teaches to want food, and gets pupils
One loaf, and for seasoning a dry fig, and to drink water.”
All these, then, are not ashamed clearly to confess the advantage which accrues from caution. And the wisdom which is true and not contrary to reason, trusting not in mere words and oracular utterances, but in invulnerable armour of defence and energetic mysteries, and devoting itself to divine commands, and exercise, and practice, receives a divine power according to its inspiration from the Word.
Already, then, the ægis of the poetic Jove is described as
“Dreadful, crowned all around by Terror,
And on it Strife and Prowess, and chilling Rout;
On it, too, the Gorgon’s head, dread monster,
Terrible, dire, the sign of Ægis-bearing Jove.”2401
But to those, who are able rightly to understand salvation, I know not what will appear dearer than the gravity of the Law, and Reverence, which is its daughter. For when one is said to pitch too high, as also the Lord says, with reference to certain; so that some of those whose desires are towards Him may not sing out of pitch and tune, I do not understand it as pitching too high in reality, but only as spoken with reference to such as will not take up the divine yoke.
For to those, who are unstrung and feeble, what is medium seems too high; and to those, who are unrighteous, what befalls them seems severe justice. For those, who, on account of the favour they entertain for sins, are prone to pardon, suppose truth to be harshness, and severity to be savageness, and him who does not sin with them, and is not dragged with them, to be pitiless. Tragedy writes therefore well of Pluto:—
“And to what sort of a deity wilt thou come,2402 dost thou ask,
Who knows neither clemency nor favour,
But loves bare justice alone.”
For although you are not yet able to do the things enjoined by the Law, yet, considering that the noblest examples are set before us in it, we are able to nourish and increase the love of liberty; and so we shall profit more eagerly as far as we can, inviting some things, imitating some things, and fearing others. For thus the righteous of the olden time, who lived according to the law, “were not from a storied oak, or from a rock;” because they wish to philosophize truly, took and devoted themselves entirely to God, and were classified under faith. Zeno said well of the Indians, that he would rather have seen one Indian roasted, than have learned the whole of the arguments about bearing pain.
But we have exhibited before our eyes every day abundant sources of martyrs that are burnt, impaled, beheaded. All these the fear inspired by the law,—leading as a pædagogue to Christ, trained so as to manifest their piety by their blood. “God stood in the congregation of the gods; He judgeth in the midst of the gods.”2403 Who are they? Those that are superior to Pleasure, who rise above the passions, who know what they do—the Gnostics, who are greater than the world. “I said, Ye are Gods; and all sons of the Highest.”2404
To whom speaks the Lord? To those who reject as far as possible all that is of man. And the apostle says, “For ye are not any longer in the flesh, but in the Spirit.”2405 And again he says, “Though in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh.”2406 “For flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”2407 “Lo, ye shall die like men,” the Spirit has said, confuting us.
We must then exercise ourselves in taking care about those things which fall under the power of the passions, fleeing like those who are truly philosophers such articles of food as excite lust, and dissolute licentiousness in chambering and luxury; and the sensations that tend to luxury, which are a solid reward to others, must no longer be so to us. For God’s greatest gift is self-restraint.
For He Himself has said, “I will neyer leave thee, nor forsake thee,”2408 as having judged thee worthy according to the true election. Thus, then, while we attempt piously to advance, we shall have put on us the mild yoke of the Lord from faith to faith, one charioteer driving each of us onward to salvation, that the meet fruit of beatitude may be won. “Exercise is” according to Hippocrates of Cos, “not only the health of the body, but of the soul—fearlessness of labours—a ravenous appetite for food.”
Chapter XXI. — Opinions of Various Philosophers on the Chief Good.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.xxi.html
Epicurus, in placing happiness in not being hungry, or thirsty, or cold, uttered that godlike word, saying impiously that he would fight in these points even with Father Jove; teaching, as if it were the case of pigs that live in filth and not that of rational philosophers, that happiness was victory. For of those that are ruled by pleasure are the Cyrenaics and Epicurus; for these expressly said that to live pleasantly was the chief end, and that pleasure was the only perfect good.
Epicurus also says that the removal of pain is pleasure; and says that that is to be preferred, which first attracts from itself to itself, being, that is, wholly in motion. Dinomachus and Callipho said that the chief end was for one to do what he could for the attainment and enjoyment of pleasure; and Hieronymus the Peripatetic said the great end was to live unmolested, and that the only final good was happiness; and Diodorus likewise, who belonged to the same sect, pronounces the end to be to live undisturbed and well.
Epicurus indeed, and the Cyrenaics, say that pleasure is the first duty; for it is for the sake of pleasure, they say, 375 that virtue was introduced, and produced pleasure. According to the followers of Calliphon, virtue was introduced for the sake of pleasure, but that subsequently, on seeing its own beauty, it made itself equally prized with the first principle, that is, pleasure.
But the Aristotelians lay it down, that to live in accordance with virtue is the end, but that neither happiness nor the end is reached by every one who has virtue. For the wise man, vexed and involved in involuntary mischances, and wishing gladly on these accounts to flee from life, is neither fortunate nor happy. For virtue needs time; for that is not acquired in one day which exists [only] in the perfect man since, as they say, a child is never happy. But human life is a perfect time, and therefore happiness is completed by the three kinds of good things. Neither, then, the poor, nor the mean nor even the diseased, nor the slave, can be one of them.
Again, on the other hand, Zeno the Stoic thinks the end to be living according to virtue; and, Cleanthes, living agreeably to nature in the right exercise of reason, which he held to consist of the selection of things according to nature. And Antipatrus, his friend, supposes the end to consist in choosing continually and unswervingly the things which are according to nature, and rejecting those contrary to nature.
Archedamus, on the other hand, explained the end to be such, that in selecting the greatest and chief things according to nature, it was impossible to overstep it. In addition to these, Panætius pronounced the end to be, to live according to the means given to us by nature. And finally, Posidonius said that it was to live engaged in contemplating the truth and order of the universe, and forming himself as he best can, in nothing influenced by the irrational part of his soul.
And some of the later Stoics defined the great end to consist in living agreeably to the constitution of man. Why should I mention Aristo? He said that the end was indifference; but what is indifferent simply abandons the indifferent. Shall I bring forward the opinions of Herillus? Herillus states the end to be to live according to science.
For some think that the more recent disciples of the Academy define the end to be, the steady abstraction of the mind to its own impressions. Further, Lycus the Peripatetic used to say that the final end was the true joy of the soul; as Leucimus, that it was the joy it had in what was good. Critolaus, also a Peripatetic, said that it was the perfection of a life flowing rightly according to nature, referring to the perfection accomplished by the three kinds according to tradition.
We must, however, not rest satisfied with these, but endeavour as we best can to adduce the doctrines laid down on the point by the naturalist; for they say that Anaxagoras of Clazomenæ affirmed contemplation and the freedom flowing from it to be the end of life; Heraclitus the Ephesian, complacency.
The Pontic Heraclides relates, that Pythagoras taught that the knowledge of the perfection of the numbers 2409 was happiness of the soul. The Abderites also teach the existence of an end. Democritus, in his work On the Chief End, said it was cheerfulness, which he also called well-being, and often exclaims, “For delight and its absence are the boundary of those who have reached full age;” Hecatæus, that it was sufficiency to one’s self; Apollodotus of Cyzicum, that it was delectation; as Nausiphanes, that it was undauntedness,2410 for he said that it was this that was called by Democritus imperturbability.
In addition to these still, Diotimus declared the end to be perfection of what is good, which he said was termed well-being. Again, Antisthenes, that it was humility. And those called Annicereans, of the Cyrenaic succession, laid down no definite end for the whole of life; but said that to each action belonged, as its proper end, the pleasure accruing from the action. These Cyrenaics reject Epicurus’ definition of pleasure, that is the removal of pain, calling that the condition of a dead man; because we rejoice not only on account of pleasures, but companionships and distinctions; while Epicurus thinks that all joy of the soul arises from previous sensations of the flesh. Metrodorus, in his book On the Source of Happiness in Ourselves being greater than that which arises from Objects, says: What else is the good of the soul but the sound state of the flesh, and the sure hope of its continuance?
Chapter XXII. — Plato’s Opinion, that the Chief Good Consists in Assimilation to God, and Its Agreement with Scripture.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.xxii.html
Further, Plato the philosopher says that the end is twofold: that which is communicable, and exists first in the ideal forms themselves, which he also calls “the good;” and that which partakes of it, and receives its likeness from it, as is the case in the men who appropriate virtue and true philosophy. Wherefore also Cleanthes, in the second book, On Pleasure, says that Socrates everywhere teaches that the just man and the happy are one and the same, and execrated the first man who separated the just from the useful, as having done an impious thing.
For those are in truth impious who separate the useful from that which is right according to the law. Plato himself says that happiness 376 (εὐδαιμονία) is to possess rightly the dæmon, and that the ruling faculty of the soul is called the dæmon; and he terms happiness (εὐδαιμονία) the most perfect and complete good.
Sometimes he calls it a consistent and harmonious life, sometimes the highest perfection in accordance with virtue; and this he places in the knowledge of the Good, and in likeness to God, demonstrating likeness to be justice and holiness with wisdom. For is it not thus that some of our writers have understood that man straightway on his creation received what is “according to the image,” but that what is according “to the likeness” he will receive afterwards on his perfection?
Now Plato, teaching that the virtuous man shall have this likeness accompanied with humility, explains the following: “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”2411 He says, accordingly, in The Laws: “God indeed, as the ancient saying has it, occupying the beginning, the middle, and the end of all things, goes straight through while He goes round the circumference. And He is always attended by Justice, the avenger of those who revolt from the divine law.” You see how he connects fear with the divine law.
He adds, therefore: “To which he, who would be happy, cleaving, will follow lowly and beautified.” Then, connecting what follows these words, and admonishing by fear, he adds: “What conduct, then, is dear and conformable to God? That which is characterized by one word of old date: Like will be dear to like, as to what is in proportion; but things out of proportion are neither dear to one another, nor to those which are in proportion. And that therefore he that would be dear to God, must, to the best of his power, become such as He is. And in virtue of the same reason, our self-controlling man is dear to God. But he that has no self-control is unlike and diverse.”
In saying that it was an ancient dogma, he indicates the teaching which had come to him from the law. And having in the Theatœtus admitted that evils make the circuit of mortal nature and of this spot, he adds: “Wherefore we must try to flee hence as soon as possible. For flight is likeness to God as far as possible. And likeness is to become holy and just with wisdom.” Speusippus, the nephew of Plato, says that happiness is a perfect state in those who conduct themselves in accordance with nature, or the state of the good: for which condition all men have a desire, but the good only attained to quietude; consequently the virtues are the authors of happiness.
And Xenocrates the Chalcedonian defines happiness to be the possession of virtue, strictly so called, and of the power subservient to it. Then he clearly says, that the seat in which it resides is the soul; that by which it is effected, the virtues; and that of these as parts are formed praiseworthy actions, good habits and dispositions, and motions, and relations; and that corporeal and external objects are not without these. For Polemo, the disciple of Xenocrates, seems of the opinion that happiness is sufficiency of all good things, or of the most and greatest.
He lays down the doctrine, then, that happiness never exists without virtue; and that virtue, apart from corporeal and external objects, is sufficient for happiness. Let these things be so. The contradictions to the opinions specified shall be adduced in due time. But on us it is incumbent to reach the unaccomplished end, obeying the commands—that is, God—and living according to them, irreproachably and intelligently, through knowledge of the divine will; and assimilation as far as possible in accordance with right reason is the end, and restoration to perfect adoption by the Son, which ever glorifies the Father by the great High Priest who has deigned to call us brethren and fellow-heirs.
And the apostle, succinctly describing the end, writes in the Epistle to the Romans: “But now, being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”2412 And viewing the hope as twofold—that which is expected, and that which has been received—he now teaches the end to be the restitution of the hope. “For patience,” he says, “worketh experience, and experience hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit that is given to us.”2413 On account of which love and the restoration to hope, he says, in another place, “which rest is laid up for us.”2414
You will find in Ezekiel the like, as follows: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. And the man who shall be righteous, and shall do judgment and justice, who has not eaten on the mountains, nor lifted his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, and hath not defiled his neighbour’s wife, and hath not approached to a woman in the time of her uncleanness (for he does not wish the seed of man to be dishonoured), and will not injure a man; will restore the debtor’s pledge, and will not take usury; will turn away his hand from wrong; will do true judgment between a man and his neighbour; will walk in my ordinances, and keep my commandments, so as to do the truth; he is righteous, he shall surely live, saith Adonai the Lord.”2415
Isaiah too, in exhorting him that hath not believed to gravity of life, and the Gnostic to attention, proving that man’s virtue and God’s are not the same, speaks thus: “Seek the Lord, and on finding Him call on Him. And when 377 He shall draw near to you, let the wicked forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his ways; and let him return to the Lord, and he shall obtain mercy,” down to “and your thoughts from my thoughts.”2416 “We,” then, according to the noble apostle, “wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love.”2417
And we desire that every one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope,” down to “made an high priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek.”2418 Similarly with Paul “the All-virtuous Wisdom” says, “He that heareth me shall dwell trusting in hope.”2419 For the restoration of hope is called by the same term “hope.” To the expression “will dwell” it has most beautifully added “trusting,” showing that such an one has obtained rest, having received the hope for which he hoped.
Wherefore also it is added, “and shall be quiet, without fear of any evil.” And openly and expressly the apostle, in the first Epistle to the Corinthians says, “Be ye followers of me, as also I am of Christ,”2420 in order that that may take place. If ye are of me, and I am of Christ, then ye are imitators of Christ, and Christ of God. Assimilation to God, then, so that as far as possible a man becomes righteous and holy with wisdom he lays down as the aim of faith, and the end to be that restitution of the promise which is effected by faith. From these doctrines gush the fountains, which we specified above, of those who have dogmatized about “the end.” But of these enough.
Chapter XXIII. — On Marriage.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.xxiii.html
Since pleasure and lust seem to fall under marriage, it must also be treated of. Marriage is the first conjunction of man and woman for the procreation of legitimate children.2421 Accordingly Menander the comic poet says:—
“For the begetting of legitimate children,
I give thee my daughter.”
We ask if we ought to marry; which is one of the points, which are said to be relative. For some must marry, and a man must be in some condition, and he must marry some one in some condition. For every one is not to marry, nor always. But there is a time in which it is suitable, and a person for whom it is suitable, and an age up to which it is suitable. Neither ought every one to take a wife, nor is it every woman one is to take, nor always, nor in every way, nor inconsiderately. But only he who is in certain circumstances, and such an one and at such time as is requisite, and for the sake of children, and one who is in every respect similar, and who does not by force or compulsion love the husband who loves her.
Hence Abraham, regarding his wife as a sister, says, “She is my sister by my father, but not by my mother; and she became my wife,”2422 teaching us that children of the same mothers ought not to enter into matrimony. Let us briefly follow the history. Plato ranks marriage among outward good things, providing for the perpetuity of our race, and handing down as a torch a certain perpetuity to children’s children. Democritus repudiates marriage and the procreation of children, on account of the many annoyances thence arising, and abstractions from more necessary things.
Epicurus agrees, and those who place good in pleasure, and in the absence of trouble and pain. According to the opinion of the Stoics, marriage and the rearing of children are a thing indifferent; and according to the Peripatetics, a good. In a word, these, following out their dogmas in words, became enslaved to pleasures; some using concubines, some mistresses, and the most youths. And that wise quaternion in the garden with a mistress, honoured pleasure by their acts. Those, then, will not escape the curse of yoking an ass with an ox, who, judging certain things not to suit them, command others to do them, or the reverse. This Scripture has briefly showed, when it says, “What thou hatest, thou shalt not do to another.”2423
But they who approve of marriage say, Nature has adapted us for marriage, as is evident from the structure of our bodies, which are male and female. And they constantly proclaim that command, “Increase and replenish.”2424 And though this is the case, yet it seems to them shameful that man, created by God, should be more licentious than the irrational creatures, which do not mix with many licentiously, but with one of the same species, such as pigeons and ringdoves,2425 and creatures like them.
Furthermore, they say, “The childless man fails in the perfection which is according to nature, not having substituted his proper successor in his place. For he is perfect that has produced from himself his like, or rather, when he sees that he has produced the same; that is, when that which is begotten attains to the same nature with him who begat.”
Therefore we must by all means marry, both for our country’s sake, 378 for the succession of children, and as far as we are concerned, the perfection of the world; since the poets also pity a marriage half-perfect and childless, but pronounce the fruitful one happy. But it is the diseases of the body that principally show marriage to be necessary.
For a wife’s care and the assiduity of her constancy appear to exceed the endurance of all other relations and friends, as much as to excel them in sympathy; and most of all, she takes kindly to patient watching. And in truth, according to Scripture, she is a needful help.2426 The comic poet then, Menander, while running down marriage, and yet alleging on the other side its advantages, replies to one who had said:—
“I am averse to the thing,
For you take it awkwardly.”
Then he adds:—
“You see the hardships and the things which annoy you in it.
But you do not look on the advantages.”
And so forth.
Now marriage is a help in the case of those advanced in years, by furnishing a spouse to take care of one, and by rearing children of her to nourish one’s old age.
“For to a man after death his children bring renown,
Just as corks bear the net,
Saving the fishing-line from the deep.”2427
according to the tragic poet Sophocles.
Legislators, moreover, do not allow those who are unmarried to discharge the highest magisterial offices. For instance, the legislator of the Spartans imposed a fine not on bachelorhood only, but on monogamy,2428 and late marriage, and single life. And the renowned Plato orders the man who has not married to pay a wife’s maintenance into the public treasury, and to give to the magistrates a suitable sum of money as expenses.
For if they shall not beget children, not having married, they produce, as far as in them lies, a scarcity of men, and dissolve states and the world that is composed of them, impiously doing away with divine generation. It is also unmanly and weak to shun living with a wife and children. For of that of which the loss is an evil, the possession is by all means a good; and this is the case with the rest of things. But the loss of children is, they say, among the chiefest evils: the possession of children is consequently a good thing; and if it be so, so also is marriage. It is said:—
“Without a father there never could be a child,
And without a mother conception of a child could not be.
Marriage makes a father, as a husband a mother.”2429
Accordingly Homer makes a thing to be earnestly prayed for:—
“A husband and a house;”
yet not simply, but along with good agreement. For the marriage of other people is an agreement for indulgence; but that of philosophers leads to that agreement which is in accordance with reason, bidding wives adorn themselves not in outward appearance, but in character; and enjoining husbands not to treat their wedded wives as mistresses, making corporeal wantonness their aim; but to take advantage of marriage for help in the whole of life, and for the best self-restraint.
Far more excellent, in my opinion, than the seeds of wheat and barley that are sown at appropriate seasons, is man that is sown, for whom all things grow; and those seeds temperate husbandmen ever sow. Every foul and polluting practice must therefore be purged away from marriage; that the intercourse of the irrational animals may not be cast in our teeth, as more accordant with nature than human conjunction in procreation. Some of these, it must be granted, desist at the time in which they are directed, leaving creation to the working of Providence.
By the tragedians, Polyxena, though being murdered, is described nevertheless as having, when dying, taken great care to fall decently,—
“Concealing what ought to be hid from the eyes of men.”
Marriage to her was a calamity. To be subjected, then, to the passions, and to yield to them, is the extremest slavery; as to keep them in subjection is the only liberty. The divine Scripture accordingly says, that those who have transgressed the commandments are sold to strangers, that is, to sins alien to nature, till they return and repent. Marriage, then, as a sacred image, must be kept pure from those things which defile it.2430 We are to rise from our slumbers with the Lord, and retire to sleep with thanksgiving and prayer,—
“Both when you sleep, and when the holy light comes,”
confessing the Lord in our whole life; possessing piety in the soul, and extending self-control to the body. For it is pleasing to God to lead decorum from the tongue to our actions. Filthy speech is the way to effrontery; and the end of both is filthy conduct.
Now that the Scripture counsels marriage, and allows no release from the union, is expressly contained in the law, “Thou shalt not put away thy wife, except for the cause of fornication;” and it regards as fornication, the marriage of those separated while the other is alive. Not to deck and adorn herself beyond what is becoming, renders a wife free of calumnious suspicion, while she devotes herself assiduously to prayers and supplications; avoiding frequent departures from the house, and shutting herself up as far as possible from the view of all not related to her, and deeming housekeeping of more consequence than impertinent trifling.
“He that taketh a woman that has been put away,” it is said, “committeth adultery; and if one puts away his wife, he makes her an adulteress,”2431 that is, compels her to commit adultery. And not only is he who puts her away guilty of this, but he who takes her, by giving to the woman the opportunity of sinning; for did he not take her, she would return to her husband.
What, then, is the law?2432 In order to check the impetuosity of the passions, it commands the adulteress to be put to death, on being convicted of this; and if of priestly family, to be committed to the flames.2433 And the adulterer also is stoned to death, but not in the same place, that not even their death may be in common. And the law is not at variance with the Gospel, but agrees with it.
How should it be otherwise, one Lord being the author of both? She who has committed fornication liveth in sin, and is dead to the commandments; but she who has repented, being as it were born again by the change in her life, has a regeneration of life; the old harlot being dead, and she who has been regenerated by repentance having come back again to life.
The Spirit testifies to what has been said by Ezekiel, declaring, “I desire not the death of the sinner, but that he should turn.”2434 Now they are stoned to death; as through hardness of heart dead to the law which they believed not. But in the case of a priestess the punishment is increased, because “to whom much is given, from him shall more be required.”2435
Let us conclude this second book of the Stromata at this point, on account of the length and number of the chapters.
Elucidations I. – III
(On the Greeks, cap. i. note 3https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.ii.i.html#vi.iv.ii.i-p5.1, p. 347.)
The admirable comments of Stier on the Greeks, who said to Philip, “We would see Jesus,”2436 seem to me vindicated by the history of the Gospel, and by the part which the Greeks were called to take in its propagation. Clement seems to me the man of Providence, who gives rich significance to “the corn of wheat,” and its multiplication in Gentile discipleship. And in this I am a convert to Stier’s view, against my preconceptions.
That the Greeks who were at Jerusalem at the Passover were other than Hellenistic Jews, or Greek proselytes, always seemed to me improbable; but, more and more, I discover a design in this narrative, which seems to me thoroughly sustained by the history of the Gentile churches, which were Greek everywhere originally, and for the use of which the Septuagint had been prepared in the providence of God.
To say nothing of the New-Testament Scriptures, the whole symbolic and liturgic system of the early Christians and all the Catholic councils which were Greek in their topography, language, and legislation, confirm the sublime thought which Stier has elucidated. “The Pharisees said, The world is gone after him; and there were certain Greeks,” etc. So the story is introduced.
Jesus is told of their desire to see him; and he answers, “The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified;” and he goes on to speak of his death as giving life to the world. I feel grateful to Stier for his bold originality in 380 treating the subject; and I trust others will find that it invests the study of the ante-Nicene Fathers with a fresh interest, and throws back from their writings a peculiar reflex light on the New-Testament Scriptures themselves.
(See p. 352, note 9.)
Μόνος ὁ σοφὸς ἐλέυφερος. Stier, in his comments2437 on St. John (viii. 32–36), may well be compared with this chapter of Clement’s. The eighteenth chapter of this book must also be kept in view if we would do full justice to the true position of Clement, who recognises nothing in heathen philosophy as true wisdom, save as it flows from God, in Moses, and through the Hebrew Church. That Greek philosophy, so viewed, did lead to Christ, and that this great principle is recognised in the apostolic teachings, seems to me indisputable. This illustrates what has been noted above in Elucidation Ihttps://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iv.iii.i.html#vi.iv.iii.i-p0.3.
(See p. 359.)
Clement notes that the false Gnostics rejected the Epistles to Timothy,2438 chiefly because of 1 Tim. vi. 20. Beausobre (Histoire du Manichéisme, tom. ii. p. v.) doubts as to Basilides, whether he is open to this charge; but Jerome accuses him expressly of rejecting the pastoral epistles, and that to the Hebrews. For this, and Neander’s qualifying comment, see Kaye, p. 263.
Clement is far from charging Basilides, personally, with an immoral life, or from lending his sanction to impurity; but a study of the Gnostic sects, with whom our Alexandrian doctor was forced to contend, will show that they were introducing, under the pretence of Christianity, such abominations as made their defeat and absolute overthrow a matter of life and death for the Church.
To let such teachers be confounded with Christians, was to neutralize the very purpose for which the Church existed. Now, it was in the deadly grapple with such loathsome errorists, that the idea of “Catholic orthodoxy” became so precious to the primitive faithful. They were forced to make even the heathen comprehend the existence of that word-wide confederation of churches already explained,2439 and to exhibit their Scriptural creed and purity of discipline, in the strongest contrast with these pestilent “armies of the aliens,” who were neither Gnostics nor Christians indeed, much less Catholic or Orthodox teachers and believers.
Now, if in dealing with counterfeits Clement was obliged to meet them on their own grounds, and defeat them on a plan, at once intelligible to the heathen, and enabling all believers to “fight the good fight of faith” successfully, we must concede that he knew better than we can, what was suited to the Alexandrian schools, their intellect, and their false mysticism.
His works were a great safeguard to those who came after him; though they led to the false system of exposition by which Origen so greatly impaired his services to the Church, and perhaps to other evils, which, in the issue, shook the great patriarchate of Alexandria to its foundations. It is curious to trace the influence of Clement, through Tertullian and St. Augustine, upon the systems of the schoolmen, and again, through them, on the Teutonic reformers.
The mysticism of Fénelon as well, may be traced, more than is generally credited, to the old Alexandrian school, which was itself the product of some of the most subtle elements of our nature, sanctified, but not wholly controlled, by the wisdom that is from above. Compare the interminable controversies of the period, in the writings of Fénelon and Bossuet; and, for a succinct history, see L’Histoire de l’église de France, par l’Abbe Guettée, tom. xi. p. 156 et seqq.