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have wanted his practical sense and sobriety of judgment, and by a keen imagination to have been tempted to venture on those depths, which perhaps neither man nor angel is permitted to explore yet perhaps there is no writer who more constantly reminds us of the incompetency of the natural man to understand the mysteries of GOD. Thus, to use his own words, he says in his work against Celsus, (lib. vi. 17,) "In the 17th Psalm it is said of God, after the Hebrew manner of speaking, that 'He hath made darkness His secret place,' to signify how unknown are worthy conceptions of God, who hath concealed Himself as it were in darkness, from those who are unable to bear the brightness of His knowledge, nor able to behold Him. Partly on account of the impurity of men's minds, who are encompassed with infirmity, and partly from a natural incapability of understanding GOD. And to signify how few among mankind are found capable of the knowledge of GoD, Moses is described to have entered into the darkness in which God was. And again, Moses also shall approach unto GOD, and the rest shall not approach. And the Prophet, that he might set forth how deep are the doctrines which are concerning GoD, and which cannot be penetrated by them who have not that SPIRIT of GOD, which searcheth all things, even the deep things of God, hath spoken of His being covered with the deep like as with a garment.' And moreover, our SAVIOUR and LORD, the WORD of GOD, hath signified the greatness of the knowledge of the FATHER, that first of all it is worthily apprehended by Himself alone: secondly, by those whom the WORD shall illuminate with His guidance; when He says, 'No one knoweth the FATHER, but the SON, and he to whom the SON shall reveal Him.' He it is that dispelleth the darkness which the FATHER hath made His hiding place."
The same extraordinary writer in another passage opens a very sublime and valuable sentiment, by introducing the analogy of God's natural providence to explain this law of the Scriptures, which so often wraps up mysterious wisdom in difficulties of thought or expression. [In the Philocalia, p. 5.]
"If," says he, speaking of the earnest and attentive reading of Scripture, if, in particular places, to the unlearned there may
occur sentiments which do not seem to surpass the wisdom of man, this is nothing to be wondered at: for thus in the works of that Providence which embraces all the world, some things appear more evidently the works of Divine superintendence, but in others this forethought is so concealed, as to afford occasion for unbelief in that GOD who governs all things by an unspeakable contrivance and power. For the hand and design of an alldisposing Governor is not so apparent in things on the earth, as it is in the sun, and the moon, and the stars. And it is not so manifest in human contingencies, as it is in the souls and bodies of living creatures; the object and design being strongly discernible to those who trace these things, concerning the impulses, instincts, and natures of animals, and the structure of their bodies. But, as in the case of those who have once rightly perceived this Providence, their faith in that Providence is not lessened on account of things which they understand not; so neither should the just sense of that Divinity, which extends throughout the whole of Scripture, suffer any diminution in our regard, on account of our not being able, from our own weakness, to perceive the hidden lustre of its doctrines in some particular passages, where it is concealed by homely and despised phrase."
12. The subject discussed at length by St. Clement of Alexandria.
Nothing has been yet said of Clement of Alexandria, and indeed little of the Alexandrian school, as the object has been rather to show the general consent of the Fathers than to bring forward the agreement of any one in particular with ourselves. Nor, indeed, was the writer at all aware till he had fully drawn out this subject himself, and finished the Scripture proof, that St. Clement of Alexandria had philosophically discussed the same at great length in the 5th and 6th books of his Stromata. He alludes to it as the Scriptural mode of instruction throughout, and maintains, by many curious instances, that this reserve in communicating moral and religious truth was observed by all the heathen philosophers. He speaks of sacred knowledge
progressively disclosing itself in this manner. "The violent," he says, "take the kingdom by force, offering violence not in contentious disputations, but by the persevering power of an upright life, and prayers' without ceasing,' having worn out the stains of their former sins. To him," he says, "who walks according to the word, the first step towards discipline is the perception of his own ignorance. One who hath been ignorant, hath sought, and seeking, hath found the teacher; having found, he hath believed; and believing, hath hoped; and hoping in Him he loves Him; and loving, becomes assimilated to the object of his love; labouring to become that which he first hath loved."
In the same book (v. p. 555,) he says, that "as the generality of people are not taken by the intrinsic lustre of wisdom and justice, nor value them according to truth, but to some accidental pleasure they may derive;""therefore by some mode of concealment, truly divine and needful for us, the purely sacred Word is laid up in the secret shrine of truth. Such the Egyptians indicated by the adyta, and the Hebrews signified by the veil, which they alone might enter into who were consecrated to God, who were to have their hearts circumcised from other affections on account of the love of God alone."
He then shows, in numerous instances, how at all times the truth had been concealed, by enigmas, by signs and symbols, by allegories and metaphors, by dubious oracles, and to all this he applies the words of Isaiah (ch. xlv), “I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that they may know that I am the LORD;" after showing many instances in which he thinks there was secret knowledge in the laws of the Old Testament, he shows it was so in the hieroglyphics of Egypt, in many expressions of Plato, in the Pythagorean mysteries, in the Platonic and Epicurean secrets, (p. 575,) in the esoteric and exoteric doctrines of Aristotle, in the fictions of ancient poets. He says that the philosophers tried the sincerity of their hearers in their lives before they communicated divine knowledge to them. And besides, he says that, "through some sort of a veil truth itself appears greater and more venerable, like fruits which shine through water, and forms which are
half concealed. Moreover, when different modes of apprehension are held forth, the ignorant is deceived, the wise only understands."
Of our own Scripture, he says in another place, (l. v. p. 557,) it is plainly declared in the Psalms, that it is written in parables: "I will open my mouth in a parable," &c. And the illustrious Apostle speaks to the same effect: "but we speak wisdom among them that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, which come to nought, but we speak in a mystery the hidden wisdom of God. Which none of the princes of this world knew; for, had they known it, they would not have crucified the LORD of Glory."
He often alludes to St. Paul as observing this rule of reserve, keeping, he says, to the prophetical and truly ancient mode of concealment (as in 1 Cor. ii. 6, 7; iii. 1, 2, 3); and he shows that St. Paul has, in numerous places, spoken of its being usual in Scripture thus to veil the truth (as in Eph. iii. 3, 4, 5; Col. i. 9, 10, 11, and 25, 26, 27; 1 Cor. iii. 10; viii. 7; and where he says to the Hebrews that, for the time, they ought to have known, considering how long they had had the Old Testament). (v. 679.)
It is difficult to do more than barely allude to what St. Clement says on a subject which he enters into so fully. In the sixth book, he applies the same, in some degree, to our SAVIOUR'S teaching: "Neither prophecy," he says, (vi. p. 676,) "nor our SAVIOUR Himself, promulgated the divine mysteries in a manner that they might be easily apprehended by all persons, but discoursed in parables. Certainly, the Apostles say concerning the LORD, that He spake all things in parables, and without a parable spake He not unto them,' (Matt. xiii. 34); and even in the Law and Prophets," he adds, "it was He that spake to them in parables."
He thus explains the reason of this reserve in Scripture, and continues, "For many causes, therefore, the Scripture conceals its full import. First of all, that we may be given to inquiry, and watchful in the discovery of saving words. In the next place, because it was not good for all to understand the saving truths of the HOLY GHOST, lest they should be injured thereby,
if they received otherwise what was intended for their salvation. Therefore it is, that those holy mysteries which are reserved for the elect, and for those who are from their faith judged worthy of knowledge, are concealed by parables. For such is the style of Scripture; wherefore our LORD also, being not of this world, yet came among men as if He were of this world; for He sustained the whole of (human) virtue, and was about to raise man, who had his dwelling here, to things high and spiritual, on from one world to another. Therefore, He hath made use of a metaphorical mode of Scripture, for such is a parable. A saying which is not itself the thing intended, but like it, and leading to it, and to the truth, him that understands it. Or, as some say, a mode of speech, which, by means of other objects, brings forward the thing intended with power and effect. The whole economy of God, as it exists in the Prophecies concerning our LORD, is a parable to those who did not know the truth." He then proceeds to say, that not the prophets only, but the disciples of our LORD, who preached the word after His death, used proverbs. And he afterwards adds to these observations: "For, as truth does not belong to all, it is concealed in various ways, and makes the light to arise on those only who are initiated in the mysteries of knowledge, and, on account of the love of it, seek the truth." (p. 678.)
13. The Testimony of the Ancient Church to the doctrine of Christ crucified.
Now, all that has been adduced from the Fathers goes to establish this point, (independently of others,) that all Divine and saving knowledge is derived by pains on the part of man, and requires a preparation of the heart; this is implied by both the two subjects which have been discussed, the systematic discipline of the reserve, and also that of the secret senses of Scripture revealed only to good men. It is implied by all their modes of speaking of it. All these things suppose some method of discipline necessary to ascertain the truth; so that the will and the understanding should both be exercised at once. "The