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by the self-called Catholics of the present day ought not to surprise us. The ambiguous matter of their pages, with a little pains, may be borrowed to countenance almost any opinions.
“We are informed by Epiphanius, that Clement was called both an Athenian and an Alexandrian, having, as some say, been born and bred in Athens, whence he derived his fondness for the Greek philosophy; and after much travelling, having settled chiefly at Alexandria in Egypt, where he dispersed the accumulations of his varied erudition. He appears to have sought instruction under a succession of teachers, and to have laboured rather diffusely than profoundly in the acquisition of knowledge. He succeeded Pantænus, his last instructor, as catechist in the Christian school of Alexandria, a duty which his extensive learning enabled him to discharge with great success and celebrity : and to him belonged the credit of being the preceptor of Origen, in whose capacious and excursive mind the multifarious learning of the master exhibited a growth perhaps somewhat too luxuriant.
“Clement was, from a catechist in the school, raised to the dignity of a presbyter in the Church of Alexandria; in which important character his 'Stromata,' composed with a loose play of hostility turning itself in all directions, assailed both Greeks and Barbarians, heathens and heretics, with weapons borrowed from sources sacred and profane. In this work, his bias towards the common-places of the School-philosophy was apparent, and his genius was often wasted in idle and unsound speculation. It does not appear that he attached himself to any peculiar sect; but asserting an eclectic freedom of choice, he picked out of various systems the dogmas which appeared to him to be most capable of an alliance with Christian verities. He had declared in his ‘Stromata,' that to fly from impending danger was not only lawful but justifiable, on the ground of Christian prudence; and in consistency with this opinion he quitted his catechetical office, and fled from Alexandria into Asia Minor, during the persecution of 202, in the reign of Severus.
"Clement was a man in great, esteem throughout the learned and religious world, and is styled by Jerome the most learned of the ancients. We have three of his books extant, to manifest the extent of his industry and knowledge: his ‘Pædagogue,' or Christian Instructor; his Stromata'; and his Exhortation or Admonition to the Greeks, or Gentiles; works in which, if there are many things to be admired, there are also many things which pure Christianity disowns.
“ His great and misleading propensity to over-rate the importance of the philosophy of Plato and the Stoics, led him, as has been already intimated, to a course of reasoning which made his performances of very dubious authority in matters of doctrine. His Stromata,' written without the smallest regard to method, are comprised in seven books; the superadded book, called the eighth, being properly a treatise by itself, having for its title, . What rich man is saved ?' Small as this last treatise is, it is of value as containing various citations from the New Testament; and, to some extent, tending to confirm its authenticity:
“The book, formerly known under the name of the Hypo. typoses of Clement, a few fragments of which are found in Eusebius and Photius, is worthy of no consideration. It professed to be an explanation of all parts of Scripture, and appears in very many instances to have contained doctrines corrupt and impious, and entirely opposed to the generally sound character of the other writings of Clement. There is good reason to consider the work as borrowing the name of that father to gain for itself a credit which it ill deserved. This work is lost, except some passages of it preserved by Eusebius, who says, speaking of Clement, that in the books called Hypotyposes, he wrote some short commentaries on all the books of Scripture, not omitting even the controverted books, the Epistle of Barnabas, and that called the Revelation of St. Peter. If writing short commentaries on those books could be regarded as showing an acquiescence in their genuineness, there would be reason, on that account only, to regard the Hypotyposes with great mistrust; but the book contained many impious opinions among some of a better tendency. It asserted matter to be eternal; Christ to be a creature; the existence of many worlds before the birth of Adam ; that Christ was not made flesh, but only appeared to be so; with other equally foolish blasphemies; heresies with one or other of which few in that age, even among the philosophizing fathers, were wholly untainted. But, all this notwithstanding, the book was attributed to Clemens Alexandrinus, by Origen, Eusebius, Jerome, and others of the fathers.
“In speaking of the genuine productions of Clemens Alexandrinus, we ought not to omit the value of his indirect testimony to the genuineness of the Gospels of the Four Evangelists. Of the false doctrine of the unlawfulness of marriage, found in the Gospel of the Egyptians, he says, 'I observe this is not in either of the four Gospels delivered to us, but in the Gospel according to the Egyptians?' and as his frequent citations from the Gospels are only from the four which we receive, we cannot suppose him to mean any other. And we may further observe, that, in citing St. Paul's speech at Athens, he introduces it with these words :—So Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, relates what Paul said.'”
To this critique, as complete as it is discriminating and candid, nothing need be added in order to convey a general idea of the works of Clement which compose this volume. Very similar is the estimate of these compositions which the translator furnishes in the “Introductory Notice.” In a literary point of view, they receive from him no mean praise.
“So multifarious is the erudition, so multitudinous are the quotations, and the references to authors in all departments and of all countries, the most of whose works have perished, that the works in question could only have been composed near an extensive library-hardly anywhere but in the vicinity of the famous library of Alexandria. They are a store-house of curious ancient lore,-a museum of the fossil remains of the beauties and monstrosities of the world of pagan antiquity, during all the epochs and phases of its history."
He also sees in them a unity of design.
“The three compositions are really parts of one whole. The central connecting idea is that of the Logos—the Word-the Son of God; whom in the first work he exhibits drawing men from the superstitions and corruptions of heathenism to faith; in the second, as training them by precepts and discipline; and in the last, as conducting them to that higher knowledge of the things of God, to which those only who devote themselves assiduously to spiritual, moral, and intellectual culture can attain. Ever before his eye is the grand form of the living personal Christ, -the Word, who was with God, and who was God, but who became man, and dwelt among us.'
“Of course there is throughout plenty of false science, and frivolous and fanciful speculation.” (pp. 14, 15.)
The latter sentence is an honest admission of a very obvious characteristic of the works of Clement; and, we may add, of all the writers of the period to which he belonged. Unmeasured language, whether of praise or depreciation, is a great hindrance in the way of obtaining for the Fathers an enduring place among the guides of the faith of the Church of Christ. When writers, who have fallen down into such sad trifling, and penned such trash as is to be found in various places of these authors, receive wholesale commendation, prejudice is confirmed; when they are scoffed at in undistinguishing terms, the zeal of their defenders is inflamed. We have, in former notices of these Ante-Nicene writers, declared our opinion, that a Scripture. protected mind may read their books, not only with safety, but with benefit. Of authority they possess not a whit, if, in his use of that term, any pleader for the Fathers would express a right to determine the sense of any words of Scripture they may introduce, or to claim submission to any opinions they advance. But these writings possess a real interest, and may
be made conducive to the solid benefit of every age of Christianity, if only for the light they cast upon the state of the world when Christ appeared, and which continued for centuries.
“ The Exchortation, the object of which is to win pagans to the Christian faith, contains a complete and withering exposure of the abominable licentiousness, the gross imposture and sordidness, of paganism. With clearness and cogency of argument, great earnestness and eloquence, Clement sets forth in contrast the truth as tanght in the inspired Scriptures, the true God, and especially the personal Christ, the living Word of God, the Saviour of men.....
“ The Pædagogus, or Instructor, is addressed to those who have been rescued from the darkness and pollutions of heathenism, and is an exhibition of Christian morals and manners,--a guide for the formation and development of Christian character, and for living a Christian life..... The delineation of a life in all respects agreeable to the Word, a truly Christian life, attempted here, may, now that the Gospel has transformed social and private life to the extent it has, appear unnecessary, or a proof of the influence of ascetic tendencies. But a code of Christian morals and manners (a sort of 'whole duty of man' and manual of good breeding combined) was eminently needed by those whose habits and characters had been moulded under the debasing and polluting influences of heathenism; and who were bound, and were aiming, to shape their lives according to the principles of the Gospel, in the midst of the all but incredible licentiousness and luxury by which society around was incurably tainted. The disclosures which Clement, with solemn sternness, and often with caustic wit, makes of the prevalent voluptuousness and vice, form a very valuable contribution to our knowledge of that period.” (pp. 12, 13.)
It is of no great moment to determine the precise meaning of the title “Stromata," of which “ various accounts have been given; but all agree in regarding it as indicating the miscellaneous character of its contents.” Patchwork,' perhaps, rather than "tapestry-work,” would represent it: something strewed, laid down irregularly, whether in a sewed, or separate form. 'Miscellaneous,' is near enough.
"And they are very miscellaneous. They consist of the speculations of Greek philosophers, of heretics, and of those who cultivated the true Christian gnosis, and of quotations from sacred Scripture. The latter be affirms to be the source from which the higher Christian knowledge is to be drawn; as it was that from which the germs of truth in Plato and the Hellenic philosophy were derived. He describes philosophy as a divinely ordered preparation of the Greeks for faith in Christ, as the law was for the Hebrews; and shows the necessity and value of literature and philosophic calture for the attainment of true Christian knowledge, in opposition to the numerous body among Christians who regarded learning as useless and dangerous. He proclaims himself an eclectic, believing in the existence of fragments of truth in all systems, which may be separated from error; but declaring that the truth can be found in unity and completeness only in Christ, as it was from Him that all its scattered germs originally proceeded. The Stromata are written carelessly, and even confusedly; but the work is one of prodigious learning, and supplies materials of the greatest value for understanding the various conflicting systems which Christianity had to combat.” (pp. 13, 14.)
Not only “confusedly," we must think, but with confusion also of thought, and even worse than this, if indeed Clemens Alexandrinus would teach the men of his day that a training in the learning and philosophy of the heathen was “necessary for the attainment of true Christian knowledge.” Anything more pernicious than the inculcation of such notions cannot be conceived. That learning is either“ mischievous or useless " as going before or accompanying the study of Christianity, is an error; but that it was necessary, was not only untrue, but had a tendency to root yet more deeply than before the prejudice against Christianity as being incomplete, or as being dependent for its sufficiency upon some systems of human wisdom. From the pedestal on which he had been so long exalted, Plato was to be not violently cast down, but gently yet surely let down, that the Lord Jesus Christ alone might be exalted. Akin to the error in question, that an education in heathen philosophy was necessary, is the modern idea, (now, we would hope, exploded in practice,) that civilizing processes should go before Missionary attempts among the heathen. For savages, a training process, and some education, are indispensable to pave the way of access to their minds upon any subject which is to engage their reason, hitherto unexercised; but very different is the case presented, whether by the Plato-schooled men of the day of Clement, or the heathen in India of our own day. Cultivated, or acute, or both, they require no such preparation of their minds; but, on the contrary, to be told, in limine, that, in every point of view, believers in Christ are “complete in Him." These remarks are not to be received as implying that the author of the “Introductory Notice” was infected with this error; but we have thought that the opinion of Clement, which he held either for compromise or conciliation, called for remark and confutation.
The writings of Clement are a strange medley. Here we find a fundamental error; there a great truth. What could the modern advocates of “reserve in teaching" desire, what could they hope to find more exactly fitted for their purpose, than the following passage in the “Stromata”? (Book i. chap. xii., “The Mysteries of the Faith not be divulged to all.”)
“But since this tradition is not published alone for him who perceives the magnificence of the word, it is requisite, therefore,