and rhetoricians of all ages have taken especial delight. Alexandria seems to have been chosen, by a sort of common consent, as a central point where Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity might come, thanks to the liberal policy of the Lagidæ, fairly into collision. After severe struggles and many vain attempts at compromise and alliance, the false and the imperfect ceded the victory to the true; a result to which few contributed more effectually than the eminent man of whose life and labours this interesting volume contains a luminous abstract.

The birth-place of Clement is doubtful. Whether he was Athenian or Alexandrian, ancient authority does not enable us to decide satisfactorily; and modern inquirers are content with an uncertainty which is, after all, of small importance, though its removal might possibly throw partial light on one, at least, of the difficulties which attend the consideration of his history and opinions. It would be of more consequence to the illustration of his writings, could it be ascertained whether his education was commenced, and how far it was carried on, at the one or at the other place; how much of his primary learning was pagan, and how much Christian; to what extent his mental training may be attributable to the schools of Athens, or to the lessons of Pantænus. But leaving this, as beyond our means of adjustment, the information that remains to us concerning his character and compositions will be found in general clear and available, though there are points of obscurity, on which it is more desirable than probable that further explanation should be obtained. The summary given by the Bishop of Lincoln, contains, in brief, all that is known on this subject.

Clement, according to Jerome, was a presbyter of the church of Alexandria, the scholar of Pantænus, and after his decease master of the catechetical school at Alexandria. While he presided in it, he had the honour of numbering the great Origen among his scholars. He flourished during the reigns of Severus and Caracalla, (i. e. between A. C. 192 and 217,) and was contemporary with Alexander, Bishop of Jerusalem, from whom he was bearer of a letter to the church of Antioch. Jerome gives the following list of his works, describing them as replete with learning and eloquence, and embracing both sacred and profane literature. Erewaras in eight books.-Hypotyposes in eight books. One book addressed to the Gentiles.-Three books entitled, Пadaywyos.-One book concerning Easter.-A discourse concerning Fasting.-A discourse, entitled, "Who is the Rich Man that shall be saved?"-One book on Slander.-One on the Ecclesiastical Canons, and against those who follow the errors of the Jews, addressed to Alexander, Bishop of Jerusalem. This account of the works of Clement is principally derived from Eusebius, who also mentions an Exhortation to Patience, addressed to the newly Baptized. The address to the Gentiles, the Pædagogus, the Stromata, and the tract entitled, "Who is the Rich Man that shall be saved?" have come down

to us nearly entire. Of the other works we have only fragments. From Eusebius we further learn that Clement was a convert from heathenism. According to Epiphanius, he was by some called an Athenian, by others an Alexandrian; whence Cave infers that he was born at Athens, and studied at Alexandria. The account given by Photius of the works of Clement, and of the time in which he lived, agrees with that of Jerome.'


[ocr errors]

Few remains of the writers who flourished in the early periods of Christian history, are more interesting than those in which they address themselves to their pagan contemporaries. Deeply versed in the learning of their times, and thoroughly aware of all that was plausible and all that was extravagant in the creeds of their adversaries, the venerable exhorters and apologists of Christian antiquity have handed down to us invaluable materials, whence to ascertain the true character of the heathen systems of faith and practice. From the crude and coarse mythologies of Greece and Rome, to the splendid dreams of Plato and the subtilizing processes of his school, heathenism, in all its forms and all its disguises, was assailed and confounded by those eloquent and victorious advocates of Christianity. Their modes of conducting an argument were not, indeed, altogether such as would, in the present day, be deemed the most effective; they were, however, unanswerable by their antagonists on any common ground; and we may well apply to these eminent men in general, the qualification which Dr. Kaye, in a former work, makes applicable to one of their number. Arguments,' he justly observes, which ' appear to us the most forcible, might have been thrown away upon the persons he was addressing; and we may surely give 'him credit for knowing by what means he was most likely to produce conviction in their minds.' The course of mental discipline which circumstances and the impulse of his own mind had enforced upon Clement, was such as to fit him for high rank among these memorable men. Born, probably, at Athens, in the very centre of all that was either attractive or profound in pagan learning, he afterwards travelled in Asia, and ultimately fixed his residence in Alexandria, the emporium at once of commerce and of literature, the great mart of talent, the free and chosen lists where the old systems and the new were committed in fair and final contest. At first the scholar of the celebrated Pantænus, he afterwards became his worthy successor, and was placed at the head of that famous school which was founded for the express purpose of opposing the errors and heresies of the time.In the very presence,' says Matter, of those philosophers who revived the traditions of the most ancient mythology,

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

*Histoire critique du Gnosticisme, Vol. I., p. 33.


to blend them with the ideology of the most recent speculations; ' in presence of those sectaries who seemed determined to intro'duce into Christianity, the most secret theories of Persia and Chaldea, of Judea and Egypt, St. Clement was, by his 'position, compelled to study history and philosophy, the systems of religion and those of mythology. Thus his Works, and espe'cially his Stromata, are an inexhaustible mine of the most valuable illustrations of his own time and of antiquity. Com'bating the Gnostics face to face, studying their writings, so to 'speak, under their own eyes, he often reproduces their principles ' with more exactness than St. Irenæus, whose habitual residence was so distant from their schools. Of this learning and these abilities, Clement has left us a satisfactory specimen in his "Hortatory Address to the Greeks"; a declamatory, rather than logical composition, but eloquent and convincing. A brief but interesting analysis of this tract is given in the volume before us; and we shall cite a paragraph of the exordium as a specimen of the style, half poetic, half rhetorical, in which he handles these matters. He begins by reminding the Greeks of the beautiful legends received among them as true, concerning the power of music-the walls of Thebes raised by the lyre of Amphion--the wild beasts tamed by the song of Orpheus; he then proceeds as follows.

'Yet, though the face of truth is now revealed to them in all its brightness, they look at it with suspicious eyes. Let us leave them to their Citharon and Helicon, and the feasts of Bacchus, and their dramatic exhibitions, which are chiefly founded on the calamities and crimes of man. Let us turn to the mountain of God, and to the holy prophetic choir, and draw down from heaven, Truth with her companion Wisdom; that diffusing her light around, she may enlighten all who are involved in darkness, and may free men from error, extending to them intelligence (GU) as it were a hand to guide them to salvation. Orpheus, Amphion, Arion, and the Greek musicians employed their skill in confirming the perverseness of man, and leading him to idols, and stocks, and stones. Not so the Christian musician : he comes to destroy the bitter tyranny of demons; to substitute in its place the mild and gentle yoke of piety; to raise to heaven those who had been cast down upon the earth. He alone has tamed man, the most savage of beasts; and has indeed made men out of stones, by raising up a Holy Seed from among the Gentiles who believed in stones. Such is the power of the New Song; it has converted stones and beasts into men. They who were dead, without any portion of the real life, have revived at the mere sound.'

This figurative mode of appeal is carried to a considerable extent before Clement grapples with his main subject; but, when he fairly enters on the proper business of his address, he displays considerable energy in his exposition of the errors of Gentilism. The

spurious deities, the lying oracles, the depraved morality of the heathen worship, are well contrasted with the purity and truth of the Christian religion. This work, with the two subsequent treatises, to which we shall presently advert, seems to have formed a sort of trilogy, completing the scheme of Christianity, in its reference to conviction, to the conduct, and to the affections. The "Hortatory Address" having been designed to effect the conversion of the alien, and his establishment in right principles, Clement's next care was to supply the convert with a manual of pious practice. For this purpose he wrote the Pædagogue; a singular composition, in which the frivolous and the important are strangely mingled. If judged according to present notions, the "Pædagogue" will give no favourable notion of its Author's intellectual energy: there is no appeal to ultimate principles, no sound and systematic survey of moral duty; nothing, in short, of that adaptation to all seasons and all circumstances which a man of large views and vigorous mind would have impressed upon his work. We cannot think that the Bishop's apology for this failure, is to be taken as valid. He defends Clement on the ground of non-intention:-he did not design to compose a sys*tem of morality. Perhaps not: probably, such a work would have been unsuitable to the class whose benefit he principally intended. But the question still returns, whether a mode of composition which excludes all those higher qualities to which reference has just been made, could be, under any circumstances, so effective as one that should have aimed at exciting and informing the intellect, even while conveying the simplest instruction in the most common duties. Or, still more decidedly, can any moral inculcation be permanently impressive, that does not maintain a continual reference to those high motives and essential principles, on which all morality that is worthy of the name, always and unalterably depends?

The third member of Clement's triple arrangement, has obtained more permanent favour than either of the former, and this chiefly from incidental causes. The Stromata- Carpetwork,' or Varieties'-seem to have been the turning-out of the contents of his common-place book; a strange but interesting collection of all sorts of illustrations of all sorts of subjects. He gives his own description of the book, as of one in which regular order and connection were disavowed. He speaks of it as answering to its title in its various and desultory composition; as full of abrupt transitions, frequently passing from the subject to matters altogether foreign. He compares it to a meadow or a garden, where fruit and herb and flower are intermingled ;—to a wild and rugged country where trees of every kind are mixed without regularity. It will be clearly seen, how much this must



add to the value of the work; not, indeed, as an argumentative comment, but as a rich treasury of facts, circumstances, and opinions, that would have found no place in a grave discussion, but in this heterogeneous miscellany have been treasured up for the instruction of posterity.

The most substantial-we cannot even here venture to say the best connected-part of these adversaria, refers to a character which Clement is pleased to distinguish as the true Gnostic, the perfect Christian, having attained the yvws, or perfect knowledge of all that relates to God, his nature, and dispensations." The late Alexander Knox, in his letter to Parken, speaks of this 'portraiture' as one of the noblest things of the kind that the world ever saw;' qualifying, however, this strong language by the admission, that the assertions cannot always be defended.' Dr. Kaye seems to have taken the juster view of the subject, when he describes the work of Clement as less a "portraiture' than a collection of hints and sketches, finished or unfinished, out of which the picture might be worked up. He calls it 'a representation of different portions of the Gnostic character, thrown upon the canvas without order or connexion.' The Bishop goes on to express his opinion, that Clement had not formed to him"self a well-defined notion of the character which he meant to 'draw.' He was intensely anxious to make such an exhibition of Christianity as might give it favour among the learned and influential heathen; and this feeling led him to assimilate the ⚫ model of Christian, as much as possible to that of philosophical, 'perfection. This continual effort at adjustment, this perpetual watching of the balance in its librations, was unfavourable to distinct and coherent representation; and those who may have occasion to examine this subject, will owe gratitude to the Bishop of Lincoln for his masterly arrangement and definition of the loose materials and vague outline given by the Alexandrine Father. The following paragraph contains a picture in little of Clement's beau ideal of the Christian profession.

[ocr errors]

The Gnostic is he who understands the law: he does not merely abstain from evil, or do good, through fear or through the hope of reward; he does good through love, and because he chooses it for itself. He strives not to attain to the knowledge of God for any consequences which will flow from the attainment; the knowledge alone is the motive of his contemplation.-Were the choice proposed to him, either to know God or to obtain eternal salvation, (on the supposition that the two could be separated,) he would choose the former. He does good, not occasionally, but habitually; not for fame, not for reward. He is perfected in the image and after the likeness of God. The flesh is dead in him; he alone lives, having dedicated the sepulchre, his body, as a holy temple to the Lord, and converted his former sinful soul to

« VorigeDoorgaan »