Saturday, July 13, 2019

Hort's Lecture on Origen

Fenton John Anthony Hort

            In 1890, Fenton John Anthony Hort (half of the Westcott-Hort duo) delivered a series of six lectures on ante-Nicene fathers.  They were published in 1895, a few years after his death.  What follows here, with slight adjustments, is the sixth lecture in the series.


            In the last two lectures the Fathers who have come before us have all belonged to Africa. It will be the same today.  We return now from North Africa, and the two great Fathers whom at this early time it brought forth for Latin theology, to Egypt and to the most characteristically Greek theology.
            If the influence of Clement of Alexandria over the later times of early Christianity was less than we might have expected, the same cannot be said of his great pupil Origen.  Not only had he the veneration of devoted disciples for several generations, but the theologies built up in the succeeding centuries of the age of the Fathers would, as far as we can see, have been very different from what they actually were, had it not been for the foundations laid by him.  Above all, his influence as an interpreter of the Bible, direct and indirect, has been both wide and lasting.  In the ancient Church three men stand out above all others as having left a deep mark by their independent interpretation of Scripture.  The other two are Theodore of Mopsuestia (late in the fourth century), the highest representative of the School of Antioch, and (a generation later) Augustine the North African, the primary teacher of the Latin West.  Not the least interesting fact however in the history of the influence of Origen as an interpreter is the way in which his thoughts and often his words were appropriated and handed on by Latin Fathers, and especially the three greatest Latin Fathers of the fourth century, Hilary of Poitiers (theologically the greatest of them all), Ambrose and Jerome.
            In this manner, as well as by direct translations of some of Origen’s works, Origenian ideas, penetrating down through various channels, supplied a by no means insignificant element in the very miscellaneous body of traditional interpretation which prevailed till the fresh and open study of the meaning of Scripture was restored, chiefly by the Revivers of learning just before the Reformation and by some of the Reformers themselves.  The permanent value of his interpretation of Scripture is much lessened by the fact that, in common with most ancient interpreters outside the School of Antioch, he shows an excessive devotion to allegorical senses; yet along with this mere fancifulness we find in him evidence of a genuine and profound study of the words of Scripture.  For all his great and lasting influence, Origen’s name has been by no means surrounded with the halo of conventional glory which has traditionally adorned Fathers inferior to him in every way.  Some of his speculations were doubtless crude and unsatisfactory, but these are but trifles beside the vast services which he rendered to theology; and accordingly, every now and then, from Athanasius onwards, he has received cordial words of vindication from men who were able to recognize goodness and greatness, in spite of an unpopular name.
            Unlike the Fathers whom we have been lately considering, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, Origen had the blessing of Christian parentage, and received from his father Leonides a careful education both in the ordinary Greek culture of the day and in the study of Scripture, becoming the pupil of Clement.  He was not seventeen when that persecution of about the year 202 under Septimius Severus occurred which drove Clement from Alexandria, and Leonides was thrown into prison. Origen himself, being restrained by a device of his mother’s from rushing to join him in the anticipated martyrdom [she hid his clothes – JSJ], wrote to him entreating that no care for his family should be allowed to shake his constancy.  On his father’s martyrdom, with confiscation of goods, he provided for his own and his mother's and six brothers’ wants by teaching, except that he was lodged by a lady of wealth.
            Some heathens came to him for instruction, including Plutarchus, who was martyred, and Heraclas, who became Bishop of Alexandria; and thus he was led to take up, though in an informal way, the dropped work of the Catechetical School.  After a time he was placed formally at its head by the Bishop Demetrius.  For some twelve years he went on without other interruption than a short visit to Rome and another to Arabia, lecturing to large audiences as a layman, living a sternly rigorous and self-denying life.  To this time belongs the rash act of self-mutilation always associated with his name, suggested to him by a misunderstanding of the real drift of one of our Lord’s sayings.  Meanwhile he labored to fit himself for his work more and more.  On the one hand he studied Hebrew; on the other he attended the lectures of the most eminent heathen philosophers, that he might be ‘better able to understand the thoughts of those’ who came to him for help.  The work increased so much that he associated with himself his convert Heraclas.
            At length about the year 215 he was driven by tumults to leave Alexandria, as Clement had done, and took refuge for a considerable time at Caesarea, the Greek or Roman capital of Palestine.  Alexander, now Bishop of Jerusalem, of whom we heard a fortnight ago, and the Bishop of Caesarea joined in inviting him to preach (homilein) to the assembled congregation. On receiving a remonstrance from Demetrius at their permitting a layman to preach before bishops, they cited various precedents in defense of their action.  But Demetrius refused to give way, and fetched Origen back to Alexandria in a peremptory way.  After his return he was persuaded by Ambrosius, now a friend, formerly a convert of his from some Pseudo-Gnostic sect, to undertake commentaries in writing, for which purpose Ambrosius provided short-hand writers.
            But after Origen had taught at Alexandria for about a quarter of a century, his career there came to a painful end.  The Churches of Achaia, being much distracted by what were called heresies (of what kind, is not related), invited him to come to their help.  He started without obtaining license from Demetrius (but under what circumstances we do not know), and took his way through Palestine.  There he was ordained presbyter by the Bishop of Caesarea, with Alexander’s knowledge and approval.  He then completed his journey to Greece, making sojourns at Ephesus and Athens, and at length returned home.  His reception there is a sad one to read of.  Demetrius assembled “a synod of bishops and of certain presbyters,” by whom he was forbidden to teach or even reside in Alexandria.  They did not agree to reject his ordination, as apparently Demetrius wished, but this too he obtained from a subsequent smaller meeting of bishops alone.
            Our too fragmentary authorities do not tell us quite clearly the ground of condemnation. Apparently it was the ordination of one who was mutilated, though it is also possible that doctrinal differences and it may be even personal jealousies were unavowed motives of action. There is reason to believe that the Roman Church supported the action of Demetrius, but it was entirely ignored by the Bishops of Asia; those of Palestine, Arabia, Phoenicia (i.e. probably North Syria) and Achaia being specially mentioned.  Origen left Alexandria for ever, and though beloved disciples of his own succeeded Demetrius as bishop, apparently no attempt was made to undo the banishment.
            Gentlest, humblest, and most peace-loving of men, Origen would be the last to disturb the peace of the Church for his own sake.  Accordingly for the third time he betook himself to the friendly Caesarea, and there in the great seaport beside the Mediterranean he made his permanent home for the rest of his life, above twenty years.  Being welcomed and cherished by the two Palestinian Bishops of whom we heard before, he carried on his literary work as a Christian theologian with the help of Ambrosius, and at the same time resumed oral instruction, partly by expository sermons of a comparatively simple kind in Church, partly by more advanced lectures to students and philosophical enquirers, as at the Catechetical School of Alexandria.
            With this period are specially connected the names of two illustrious disciples, Firmilianus and Gregory of Neocaesarea.  Firmilianus was apparently already bishop of the Cappadocian Caesarea, the capital of the inland regions of Eastern Asia Minor, when this recorded intercourse with Origen took place, though it may well have begun at an earlier time. Sometimes he used to get Origen to come to visit him in Cappadocia to instruct his Churches; sometimes he used to make stays in Palestine to have the personal benefit of hearing Origen discourse.  A man of still greater eminence in the years after the middle of the third century was Gregory Bishop of Neocaesarea in Pontus.  According to his own narrative he had traveled to Palestine to educate himself as an advocate by study at Beirut, where there was a famous School of Roman Law; but before fixing himself there, he had traveled on to Caesarea with his sister, whose husband held an official post there.  Beirut however was soon given up.  He fell (with his brother) under the spell of Origen’s teaching and personal presence, and remained under his instruction for five years.
            On his departure he delivered an address in expression of his gratitude, and this address is still extant.  In it he describes how he first came under Origen, and how Origen dealt with him and with other pupils.  First came a training in the faculties of the mind, a pruning away of wild growths of opinion for opinion’s sake, an enforcement of clear thinking and exact speaking.  Then came the study of the visible order of nature, founded on the study of geometry.  Thirdly came Christian ethics as founded on godliness, which he called the beginning and the end of all the virtues. Having passed through these preliminary stages of mental discipline, Origen’s pupils were encouraged to read freely in the works of Greek poets and philosophers, and then, thus prepared, to enter on the study of Christian theology proper, more especially in its primary source, the Bible.
            Such was the method of Origen’s regular teaching at Caesarea.  But he did not refuse invitations to leave home for a while, and give help to other Churches.  Some time, we know, he spent at Athens.  Twice he was asked to come into Arabia to help in neutralizing false doctrines which had arisen there.  In each case, instead of using declamation and anathemas, he sought quiet conference with the men who had propounded these doctrines; and in each case succeeded in persuading them that they had been in error.  If later controversies had been dealt with in the same spirit, what a different Christendom and a different world would now be meeting our eyes!
            Our first glimpse of Origen was as a boy, encouraging his father to face martyrdom without hesitation, undistracted by any anxieties for his helpless family. A third of a century later a similar task fell to his lot.  The emperor Alexander Severus, who had been friendly to the Christians, and with whose mother Mamsea Origen had had some intercourse, had come to a violent end, and his murderer and successor Maximinus entered on a persecution of such Christians, it would seem, as had stood in special favor with Alexander.  Origen was apparently saved by a Christian Cappadocian lady, Juliana, who kept him out of harm’s way.  But Ambrosius and a presbyter of Caesarea were imprisoned, and to them Origen wrote an Exhortation which we still possess.
            But fifteen years later, or less, he had to suffer grievously in his own person.  In that persecution of Decius in which his old fellow-student and supporter Alexander died in prison, he too was cast into prison, and had to undergo a succession of tortures.  Decius’ reign was a short one; and on his death Origen was released from prison, shattered by the treatment which he had received, and two years later he died at Tyre, being not far from 70 years of age.  His tomb in the Cathedral of Tyre is several times in the early Middle Ages noticed as then still visible, and the inscription of it still later; and a tradition of his place of burial is still said to be current in the neighborhood.  Though he does not bear the conventional title of Saint, no saintlier man is to be found in the long line of ancient Fathers of the Church.
            One of the best known sentences of Butler’s Analogy, occurring in the Introduction, is to this effect:  “Hence, namely from analogical reasoning, Origen has with singular sagacity observed, that he who believes the Scripture to have proceeded from him who is the Author of Nature, may well expect to find the same sort of difficulties in it, as are found in the constitution of Nature.”  These few words are characteristic of the subjects of Origen’s writings.  He was deeply and reverently occupied in meditation on all things in heaven and earth of which the human mind can take any cognizance; but the Bible was the center of all his thoughts and of all his studies.  He wrote commentaries or preached homilies, taken down by rapid writers, on a large proportion of books of both Testaments.  What is lost was far more than what is preserved: but we still have much, large portions of the commentaries on St. Matthew and St. John, that on the Romans in a too free Latin condensed translation, some Homilies on Jeremiah, many Greek fragments on various books, and many Latin translations of Homilies, chiefly on the Old Testament.
            A biblical work of another kind was what is called Origen’s Hexapla, an arrangement of the books of the Old Testament in (for the most part) six parallel columns, each containing a distinct text, the Hebrew, the same in Greek letters, the Septuagint, and three other Greek translations.  Numerous detached readings copied from it have been preserved, but hardly more. By this combination of texts Origen hoped to throw light on the meaning of many passages in which a Greek reader would be either bewildered or misled if he had only the Septuagint before him.  Besides the Exhortation to Martyrdom mentioned before, we possess a very interesting little treatise of Origen’s on Prayer. Very little unhappily remains of his letters, of which a collection was made some time after his death. But we fortunately possess in one shape or other what were probably his two greatest works, the systematic doctrinal treatise on First Principles, written before his departure from Alexandria, preserved for the most part only in a too free Latin version; and the eight books against Celsus in the original Greek, written near the end of his life. In connection with Origen’s writings it is worth while to mention the Philocalia, a small collection of extracts from them chiefly bearing on the interpretation of Scripture, made late in the fourth century by Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus.  It was from this source that Butler made his quotation, and the little book deserves to be better known.
            As an easy specimen of the book on First Principles, which chiefly consists of somewhat difficult speculative meditations, we may take a passage on the thirst for Divine knowledge implanted in the heart of man, and, however little he may know in this life, intended to render him capable of even higher levels of knowledge in the stages of the future life.
            “Therefore, as in those crafts which are accomplished by hand, we can perceive by our understanding the reason which determines what a thing is to be, how it is to be made and for what purposes, while the actual work is accomplished by the service of the hands, so in the works of God which are wrought by His own hand, we must understand that the reason and designs of the things which we see made by Him, remain unseen.  And just as, when our eye has seen things made by the craftsman, the mind, on observing something made with especial skill, is forthwith anxious to enquire in what fashion or manner or for what purposes the thing has been made, so much more and in an incomparably higher degree the mind is anxious with an unspeakable longing to recognize the reason of the things which we behold made by God.  This longing, this ardent desire, has we believe without doubt been implanted in us by God, and, just as the eye naturally requires light and object of vision, and our body by nature demands food and drink, so our intellect is possessed with a fit and natural desire for knowing the truth of God and discovering the causes of things.  Now this desire we have received from God not in order that it should never be satisfied or be capable of satisfaction; otherwise vainly will the love of truth appear to have been implanted in our intellect by God the Creator, if it is made never capable of satisfying its longing.
            “Wherefore even in this life those who have laboriously given their attention to godly and religious meditations, even though they obtain but a small amount from the great and infinite treasures of the Divine wisdom, yet just because they keep their minds and attention turned towards these subjects and outstrip themselves in this desire, receive much profit from the very fact that they are directing their minds to the search and love of discovering truth and making them more ready to receive future instruction, just as, when a man wishes to paint a portrait, if a pencil sketch in bare outline first marks out the plan of the coming picture, and prepares marks on which the features may be laid, the rough outline doubtless is found more ready to receive the true colors, so may a mere sketch, a rough outline by the pencil of our Lord Jesus Christ, be traced on the tablets of our heart.  And perhaps it is for this reason that it is said, ‘For to everyone that hath shall it be given, and it shall be added to him.’  Whence it is certain that to those who possess in this life a sort of rough outline of truth and knowledge shall be added in the future the beauty of the perfect picture.  Such, I imagine, was the desire indicated by him who said, ‘But I am constrained in two ways, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, for it is far better,’ knowing that when he had returned to Christ, he would recognize more clearly the reasons of all things which are done on earth.” [From Origen, ii. IV. p. 236.       Redep. (ii. xi. 4, 5).]
            The Books against Celsus contain at once the best and the most comprehensive defense of the Christian faith which has come down to us from the days of the Fathers.  They defend it not against popular prejudice and malice only, as the early Apologists had done, but against the careful and powerful indictment laid by an earnest though scoffing heathen philosopher who was also apparently an accomplished Roman lawyer, writing in the name of the highest philosophy of the time, and passionately devoted to the welfare of the Roman Empire.  A long time had passed between the writing of Celsus’ “True Account,” as he called his literary onslaught on the Christians and their faith, and its coming into Origen’s hands.  He had no real knowledge about the author, but he evidently felt that if he could answer him successfully, he would practically have effectually upheld the cause of the Gospel at all points.  If he sometimes fails to understand on what this or that smart saying of Celsus’ really rested, he never shows the unfairness of the mere partisan.  The candor and patience of his treatise are among its brightest qualities.
            The whole treatise amply repays reading and re-reading; one passage however must now suffice.  It is the reply to Celsus’ scoff about the lateness of the Incarnation and its limitation to an obscure corner of the world, a scoff in form, but covering a serious question.  As regards the time, Celsus compared it to the comic poet’s representation of Zeus as waking out of sleep and suddenly sending Hermes to men. As regards the place, he asked why God did not breathe souls into many bodies and send them all over the earth. Here is the answer.
            “Observe here too Celsus’ want of reverence when he most unphilosophically brings in a comic poet, whose object is to raise a laugh, and compares our God the Creator of the Universe with the god in his play who on awaking dispatches Hermes. We have said above that, when God sent Jesus to the human race, it was not as though He had just awoken from a long sleep, but Jesus, though He has only now for worthy reasons fulfilled the divine plan of His incarnation, has at all times been doing good to the human race.  For no noble deed among men has ever been done without the Divine Word visiting the souls of those who even for a brief space were able to receive such operations of the Divine Word.  Nay, even the appearance of Jesus in one corner of the world (as it seems) has been brought about for a worthy reason, since it was necessary that He of whom the prophets spoke should appear among those who had learnt one God, who read His prophets and recognized Christ preached in them, and that He should appear at a time when the Word was about to be diffused from one corner to the whole world.
            “Wherefore also there was no need that many bodies should be made everywhere, and many spirits like to that of Jesus, in order that the whole world of men might be illumined by the Word of God.  For it sufficed that the one Word rising like the Sun of Righteousness from Judea should send forth His speedy rays into the soul of them that were willing to receive Him.  And if anyone does wish to see many bodies filled with a divine Spirit, ministering like Him the one Christ to the salvation of men in every place, let him take note of those who in all places do honestly and with an upright life teach the word of Jesus, who are themselves too called ‘Christs’ (‘anointed ones’) in the passage, ‘Touch not mine anointed ones and do my prophets no harm.’  For even as we have heard that antichrist comes and nevertheless have learnt that there are many antichrists in the world, even so, when we recognize that Christ has come, we observe that owing to Him many Christs have been born in the world, to wit, all those that like Him have loved righteousness and hated iniquity, and for this reason God, the God of Christ, anointed them too with the oil of gladness.  But He however, having loved righteousness and hated iniquity to a higher degree than those who are His partners, has also received the first-fruits of the anointing, and, if we may so term it, has received the entire unction of the oil of gladness, while they that were His partners partook also in His unction, each according to his capacity.
            “Wherefore, since Christ is the head of the Church, so that Christ and His Church are one body, the ointment has descended from the head to the beard (the symbol of the full-grown man Aaron), and this ointment in its descent reached to the skirts of his clothing. This is my answer to Celsus’ impious speech when he says that ‘God ought to have breathed His Spirit into many bodies in like manner and to have sent them forth throughout the world.’  So then while the comic poet to raise a laugh has represented Zeus as asleep and as waking up and sending Hermes to the Greeks, let the Word which knows that the nature of God is sleepless teach us that God with regard to seasons orders the affairs of the world as reason demands.  But it is not to be wondered at, if, seeing that the judgments of God are sublime and hard to interpret, uninstructed souls do err, and Celsus among them.
            “There is then nothing absurd in the fact that to the Jews, with whom were the prophets, the Son of God was sent, so that beginning with them in bodily form He might arise in power and spirit upon a world of souls desiring to be no longer bereft of God.” [Origen, adv. Celsum, vi. 78 foll.]
            At Origen’s death in the year 253 we are still nearly half a century from the end of the first three centuries, and nearly three-quarters of a century from the Council of Nicea.  If time permitted, it would not be difficult to give some account of Fathers belonging to this interval who are quite worthy of being known.  At the same time it is true that we have only fragments, sometimes hardly that, of the men who seem as if they had been best worth knowing.  Moreover, with the exception of the almost forgotten Lucianus of Antioch, they seem to have been less original and important Fathers than nearly all those who have come before us this term.  The most attractive group is formed by the disciples of Origen, not only the two already spoken of, but Heraclas, and Pierius, and Dionysius of Alexandria of whom we can obtain a tolerably vivid and very pleasant image from the fragments of his letters preserved by Eusebius, showing how a great bishop trained by Origen would deal with the difficult questions raised by persecution without and false doctrine within.  Then would come Pamphilus, the loving collector of memorials of Origen and zealous champion of his good name against the detractors who were beginning to assail it; himself a martyr in the terrible last persecution at the beginning of the fourth century.  And Pamphilus in turn leads to his younger friend Eusebius the historian, who lived and wrote in the fourth century, and yet might in some ways be called the last of the Ante-Nicene Fathers.
            But we must be content with this very hurried glance at that most important but most obscure time between the death of Origen and Cyprian and the Council of Nicea.  A better break than at the death of Origen we could hardly desire.  Not to speak of the men of later days, looking only at those other Fathers who have come before us this term, we cannot help recognizing that they had often work given them to do which he could not do, and that they were enabled to see some truths which he could not see.  But he is for us practically the last and most characteristic of the early Fathers, properly so called, the Fathers who lived while Christian thought could still be free, and while Christian faith still embraced the whole world.  From all these early Fathers taken together, you will, I trust, have gained the feeling, if you had it not already, that Christian pastors and teachers in this nineteenth century can ill afford to neglect the thoughts and aspirations of those earliest Christian ages, though, like the thoughts and aspirations of all intervening times, they must remain a dead letter to us till they are interpreted by the thoughts and aspirations of our own time as shone upon by the light of the Spirit who is the teacher of Christ’s disciples in every succeeding age.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Hort's Lecture on Tertullian and Cyprian

Fenton John Anthony Hort

            In 1890, Fenton John Anthony Hort (half of the Westcott-Hort duo) delivered a series of six lectures on ante-Nicene fathers.  They were published in 1895, a few years after his death.  What follows here, with slight adjustments, is the fifth lecture in the series.


            The last Father whose life and writings came before us was Clement of Alexandria. In him ancient Christian theology in some important respects reaches its highest point.  There were after him greater as well as more influential theologians, but with all his very manifest defects there was no one whose vision of what the faith of Jesus Christ was intended to do for mankind was so full or so true.
            His great pupil Origen, and one or two of Origen’s own pupils, who worthily carried on the tradition of Alexandrian theology, will I hope come before us next time.  Meanwhile we must turn aside today to a region geographically not remote from Egypt, but in other respects curiously unlike Egypt as regards the Christian theologians whom it bred in the earlier centuries.
            The Roman proconsular province of Africa, approximately what we now in Church History for clearness’ sake call “North Africa,” was, as Mommsen has pointed out, a remarkably insulated region, being shut off from the interior and from the coasts to the East by vast deserts. The most important part of it answers roughly to the modern Tunis, Carthage being the capital. The Mediterranean divided it from Sicily and Italy, but there was close intercourse with Rome by water.  Unhappily we know nothing of the foundation or earlier history of the North African Churches.  But there is good reason to believe that they first created a Latin Bible.
            They also probably contributed largely to the creation of the church organization which became prevalent in the West.  They certainly created the distinctively Latin theology, which, developed especially by Augustine, and again by great theologians of the Middle Ages, and again by the leading Continental Reformers of the sixteenth century, has dominated men’s thoughts in Western Europe respecting God and man, both for good and for evil.  We have to consider today the first two great Fathers known to us from the North African Churches, probably the first two great Fathers whom they produced:  Tertullian and Cyprian.
            Nearly all that we know about Tertullian is gleaned from his own writings, and that is not much. He was probably born somewhere about the middle of the second century, and himself a native of North Africa. At Carthage he would have the fullest opportunity for acquiring the best culture of the time.  Next to Rome, it was the second city of the Western Empire in size and importance; perhaps also, as Mommsen says, the most corrupt city of the West as well as the chief centre of the Latin cultivation and literature.  Tertullian’s writings show what full use he made of these opportunities, as regards Greek and Roman literature.  His occupation was that of an advocate, and the usual course of a lawyer’s training in rhetoric would naturally lead him to spend some time at Athens and at Rome in youth.  To an intelligent young lawyer Rome would be a very attractive place just then, on account of the distinguished Roman jurists of the time.  All this time Tertullian was assuredly a heathen, and apparently a man of vicious life, as he states himself, and as the foulness which ever afterwards infested his mind too painfully confirms.  How he became a Christian he never tells us directly, but it is tolerably clear that he is reciting his own experience when he more than once speaks of the moral impression produced on beholders by Christian martyrs.  So in a famous passage of the Apologeticum [Tert. Apol. 50] addressed to the heathen:
            “We multiply every time that we are mown down by you:  the blood of Christians is seed . . . . That very obstinacy which you reproach us with is a teacher.  For who when he beholds it is not impelled to examine what are the inner contents of the matter?”  Again:   “Every one looking on such endurance, smitten as with a kind of scruple, is both enkindled to examine whence it proceeds, and, when he has discovered, himself also at once follows the truth.”  Within the last few years it has become possible to surmise with some probability what the martyrdoms were which thus changed the course of Tertullian’s life.  We now know that the year 180, the first year of the Emperor Commodus, was the year when seven men and five women from the African town of Scilla were martyred at Carthage. The Acts of their martyrdom are still extant. [See Lightfoot’s Apostolic Fathers (2nd Edition), Ignatius, i. 524 foll.]
            Seventeen years later there was again persecution.  Apparently the Christians, or some Christians, refused to take part in the public festivities, probably involving idolatrous usages, which greeted the final victory of the Emperor Septimius Severus over other claimants of the imperial authority; and accordingly the existing laws seem to have been put in force against Christians, though probably not by the Emperor himself.  At least three of Tertullian’s writings are memorials of this time; his great Apologeticum, a brilliant and elaborate defense of Christians from the charges of all kinds brought against them, abounding in interesting matter of many kinds, and for its own purpose effective; yet all written with an exuberant cleverness which is too often merely painful.  This book was addressed to the governors of provinces, another the Ad nationes to the heathen peoples generally, a third Ad martyres to the Christian prisoners in North Africa.  To this crisis also belong the Acts of Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas, which, if not written by Tertullian himself, as some think, at all events proceed from that set of North African Christians of which he was the leader, and show clear signs of a Montanistic feeling.  Of all the genuine Acts of Martyrdom that have been preserved to us these are the most interesting.
            Taking a second leap of fourteen or fifteen years more, we come to another apologetic book of Tertullian’s, addressed to the Proconsul Scapula.  Severus had died at York in February 211, and persecution broke out afresh quite early in his successor Caracalla’s reign.  Thus we have Tertullian coming forward as an apologist at two distinct and distant crises.
            But, if he was an energetic defender of the Church, he also became a hardly less energetic assailant of the Church.  Jerome writes of him, “Till middle life he was a presbyter of the Church [this by the way is the only evidence we have, though it is probably sufficient, that Tertullian was ever more than a layman], but, Jerome proceeds, “having afterwards fallen away to the doctrine of Montanus through the envy and contumelies of the clergy of the Roman Church, he refers to the new prophecy in many books.” Jerome then enumerates certain books, now lost, which he calls specially written against the Church. The statement is crude in form, and evidently colored by reminiscences of Jerome’s own quarrels with the Roman clergy of a century and a half later: but the substantial facts were probably to be found in those books now lost. There are sufficient echoes of them in the existing books.  Every one must be struck by the parallelism with the story of Hippolytus, all the more when it is remembered that he and Tertullian were contemporaries.  In more respects than one, they must have had strong mutual sympathies, though Hippolytus, as far as we know, kept clear of those special eccentricities which, as we shall shortly see, were the fundamental cause of Tertullian’s eventual separation from the great body of the Church.
            The story which we have just been reading carries us to what was doubtless the governing interest of Tertullian’s life, his relations to what is called Montanism.  This, you will remember, was an enthusiastic popular religious movement, originating in the uplands of Phrygia.  It was the erratic form taken by a great impulse towards reformation which went through various churches late in the second century, partly due to a survival from an earlier stage of Christianity, but still essentially a reaction and an innovation.  Briefly, its characteristics were these; first, a strong faith in the Holy Spirit as the promised Paraclete, present as a heavenly power in the Church of the day; secondly, specially a belief that the Holy Spirit was manifesting Himself supernaturally at that day through entranced prophets and prophetesses; and thirdly, an inculcation of a specially stern and exacting standard of Christian morality and discipline on the strength of certain teachings of these prophets. 
            An increase in the numbers and prosperity of the Church having brought an increase of laxity, it was not unnatural that attempts should be made to stem it by a rigorous system of prohibitions.  To these three characteristics of Montanism may be added two others, fourthly, a tendency to set up prophets against bishops, the new episcopal organization being probably favorable to that large inclusiveness of Christian communion in which the Montanists saw only spiritual danger; and fifthly, an eager anticipation of the Lord’s Second Coming as near at hand, and a consequent indifference to ordinary human affairs.
            Now it was the rigorous moral legalism of Montanism that probably first attracted Tertullian.  With a man of vehement and ill-disciplined character, as he was, and always remained, conversion from heathenism might naturally be accompanied by a violent rebound: and traces of this are seen in what are apparently his earliest writings; and then after a time we find him drawn on from Montanist morality and discipline to belief in the Montanist prophets, and to the ecstatic type of inspiration which they represented, and to their peculiar form of devotion to the Paraclete.  But all this time he is simply a partisan within the Church, not in any way separated from it.  But there is a third stage in which he writes clearly as the member of a different body, claiming to be made up of ‘men of the Spirit,’ while he sneers at the members of the great Church (the worldly Church, he would say) as being only psychici, ‘men of the soul.’  In what manner he and his ‘men of the Spirit’ became finally detached from the Church; whether e.g. they seceded or (more probably) were expelled, we do not know.
            Personal squabbles, such as Jerome speaks of, may well have been mixed up with intolerances on either side, or on both. The time when this took place was probably some twenty years more or less from the beginning of the century.  Jerome tells us that Tertullian is said to have lived to an extreme old age.  This is all that we know.
            Besides Tertullian’s apologetic writings, nearly all of which have been already noticed, he was the author of a number of tracts of greater or less length addressed to Christians on various subjects belonging to morality or religion; e.g. theatrical representations, idolatry (i.e. as mixed up with various trades and public occupations), the soldier’s chaplet (the laurel crown which he held to be implicated in idolatry), flight in persecution, ‘Scorpiace’ (martyrdom), prayer, patience, baptism, repentance, two books to his wife (against second marriage of women), adornment of women, exhortation to chastity (against second marriage of men), monogamy, modesty (Pudicitia, chiefly on the question of admitting penitents), fasting, against the Psychici, veiling of virgins, and the cloak (i.e. the philosopher’s cloak, as now worn by Christians).  Besides these more or less practical writings, there are eight or nine more of a strictly doctrinal character, chiefly intended directly or indirectly for the confutation of Pseudo-Gnostics or other supposed heretics; but including a very important treatise against Praxeas in which the doctrine of the Trinity is defended against the Roman Sabellians against whom Hippolytus wrote.
            Three of the treatises bear the titles ‘On the Flesh of Christ,’ ‘On the Resurrection of the Flesh,’ ‘On the Soul.’  Much the longest is the treatise against Marcion in five books, probably founded on earlier Greek writings. In spite of its reckless scurrility of tone, it contains many passages both beautiful and true.  The most popular however of all these doctrinal works, and virtually a preface to them, is one entitled ‘On the Prescription of Heretics.’  The main drift of this most plausible and most mischievous book is this:  you try to argue with heretics and to convince them, and you do no good; you discuss Scripture with them and appeal to its authority, and again you do no good; the only way to overcome them is to shut them up sharply with what the Roman law calls Prescription, and tell them our belief is the belief of the Churches which trace back their origin to the Apostles, and therefore it must be the true belief. It was pardonable enough that Tertullian should not have in mind the living growth of belief which had been always going on in these very churches.  But it is another thing to find him making war on all free action of the mind and conscience in the things of faith, and assuming that there are no depths of Divine truth beyond the doctrines which men have been able to formulate for public acceptance.
            His complaint is not only against ‘heretics’ but also against ‘nostri’; he names no names, but what he says seems specially directed against Clement of Alexandria.  It grieves him much that an appeal is made to our Lord’s words “Seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you,” which he explains away by a series of ingenuities, beginning with the assertions that having been uttered early in our Lord’s ministry, while He was as yet imperfectly known, they ceased to be true afterwards, and that they were addressed to the Jews alone.
            This is a sufficient illustration of Tertullian’s characteristic defects. To understand him rightly we must remember that under the Roman lawyer was probably hidden the man of Carthaginian i.e. the Phoenician blood. As in the case of Tatian, his utter want of sympathy with Greek and Roman greatness is probably due to the inborn sense of alien race.  To the same source may perhaps be also traced his violence, his passion for bitter antagonisms. But it is a relief to read the touching words in which, writing on Patience, he bewails his own want of it. 
            “It will be a kind of solace to dispute about that which it is not given me to enjoy, like sick men, who, since they are removed from health, do not know how to cease speaking about its advantages. So I, poor wretch (miserrimus ego), always sick with the heats of impatience, must needs sigh after and call after and discourse about that health of patience which I fail to possess. . . . .  Patience is so set at the head of the things of God, that no one can observe any precept, or perform any work well pleasing to the Lord, if he be a stranger to patience.”
            Apart from the infectiousness of his intolerance, Tertullian did serious injury to the Church of his own age and of later ages by beginning the process of casting the language of theology in the molds supplied by the law courts.  In the Bible legal images take their place among a variety of other images, but that is quite another thing from the supremacy which legal conceptions of spiritual things acquired through the reckless use of legal phraseology.  But, when the worst is said, Tertullian remains one of the greatest of the Fathers, always needing to be read with the utmost caution, but almost always amply worth reading; not the less perhaps because it needs some labor to extract the meaning from his closely condensed and epigrammatic sentences.  He is a man of true genius; and not that only but also a man of warm and passionate Christian feeling; and moreover one who, despite the obstacles created by his own theories, had a keen eye for many not obvious aspects of truth, which presented themselves to him for the most part in sudden flashes, and so by their frequent contradictions reflect the moods of a fiery soul, itself always full of contradictions.

            As a sample of his more quiet controversial vein, in which he is something much better than controversial, we may take a few words of his on the creation of man, in refutation of Marcion’s theory that the God of creation and of the Law was only a just God, not a good God. [See Tertullian adv. Marc. ii. 4.]   The exaggerations here and there do not spoil the general drift:
            “Meanwhile the world consisted of all good things, thereby sufficiently showing beforehand how much good was in store for him for whom this whole [sum of things] was being prepared.  Lastly, who could be worthy to inhabit the works of God but His own image and likeness?  That also was wrought by Goodness. . . .  Goodness spoke [the words].  Goodness fashioned man out of slime into such a substance of flesh built up into so many qualities out of one matter, Goodness breathed [into him] making him a soul that was living, not dead. Goodness set him to enjoy and reign over all things, and moreover to give them names. Goodness yet further bestowed fresh enjoyment on man, that, although a possessor of the whole world, he should dwell in a specially pleasant region by being shifted into Paradise, already out of a world into a Church. The same goodness provided also a help for him, that nothing good might be wanting; for it is not good, God said, that man be alone: He knew that man would profit by the sex of Mary and thenceforward of the Church. [In this curious limitation the Montanist speaks.]    “But even the Law which thou blamest, which thou twistest into themes of controversy, it was Goodness that enacted it for the sake of man, that he might cleave to God, for fear he should seem not so much free as abandoned, on a level with his minions the other living creatures who had been cast loose by (from?) God and were free through His scorn of them; but that man alone might have the boast of having been alone worthy to receive a Law from God, and that, being a reasonable living creature with a capacity for understanding and knowledge, he might be held in likewise by that very liberty which belongs to reason, being subject to Him who had subjected to him all things.  And in like manner it was Goodness that wrote on this law the counsel of observing it, ‘In the day that ye eat thereof, ye shall surely die,’ for it graciously showed the issue of transgression, for fear ignorance of the danger should help towards neglect of obedience. . . .  I call on thee therefore to recognize thus far the goodness of our God as shown by works that were good, by blessings that were good, by acts of indulgence, by acts of Providence, by laws and forewarnings that were good and gracious.”

            Jerome tells us that once in North Italy he had met an old man who told him how when he was quite young he had in like manner seen at Rome a man of great age, formerly a notary of Cyprian’s, and had heard from him how Cyprian was accustomed to pass no day without reading something of Tertullian’s, and how he used often to say to him, “Give me the Teacher,” meaning
Tertullian.  This curious little reminiscence links together the two greatest men in the North African Church before Augustine.  Strictly speaking Cyprian was not a theologian, while he was a great ecclesiastical ruler. His writings show hardly any appropriation of the deeper elements in Tertullian’s thoughts, those in which he claims affinity to Greek theology, perhaps partly due to borrowing from it.  But the Roman legalism, which was so potent an ingredient in Tertullian’s ways of thinking and speaking, acquired still greater force in its guidance of a man of simpler and more direct mind like Cyprian, accustomed through life to derive his thoughts of social order from the provincial administration of the Roman Empire, and when he had become a Christian bishop, writing almost always under the impulse of grave practical responsibilities. The depth and purity of his own religious feeling makes itself felt almost everywhere in his writings; yet the conceptions of the Church and its institutions which he sets forth, and which thenceforward dominated Latin Christianity, were indeed most natural under their circumstances of time and place, but not less truly involved injurious limitations and perversions of the full teaching of the Apostles.
            We have the great good fortune of possessing a large amount of Cyprian’s correspondence during the last ten years or so of his life, and also a memoir of him by his deacon Pontius.  We have also from his pen about a dozen tracts on religious or disciplinary subjects. He bears well the testing of his inner self which these materials render possible. There is nothing petty and nothing ungoverned about him.  He is always pursuing high ends according to the best of his lights with entire self devotion and seldom failing in patience and gentleness.  He lived habitually in accordance with what he wrote in his early tract to his friend Donatus:  [See Cypr. ad Donat. 4. 5.]
            “To God belongs whatever power we have.  From that source we draw our life, from that source we draw our strength, from that source is taken and embraced the energy by which, while still placed here, we discern beforehand the signs of the things to come.  Let only there be fear to guard innocence, that the Lord, who by the visitation of the heavenly mercy has graciously shone into our minds, may be held fast through righteous conduct as the guest of a mind that delights Him, lest the security thus received breed heedlessness and the old enemy steal in anew.” . . . “The Spirit,” he proceeds, “streams forth incessantly, overflows abundantly: let only our breast be athirst and open, as is [the measure] of faith to receive that we bring to it, such is [the measure] of inflowing grace that we drink in.”
            Cyprian was apparently converted to the Gospel in middle life.  He was what we should call a country gentleman, and at the same time a man of good Latin education.  Not long after he became a Christian he sold his estates, wholly or in part, to give the proceeds to the poor; though ultimately they were restored to him by the liberality of friends. Very early after his baptism he was admitted to the presbyterate, and shortly afterwards, while still accounted a neophyte, he was elected Bishop of Carthage.
            He was evidently popular with the laity, with whom the election seems to have chiefly rested.  His social position by itself could hardly have won for him such a mark of confidence; doubtless he was already before his conversion known as a man of virtuous life and high public spirit.  It was no light task that was laid on him by his election.  Persecution had slumbered for about a generation, and as a consequence various abuses had sprung up in the Church, the bishops and clergy not excepted.  But after a year and a half came the persecution of Decius, the same persecution in which, as we saw last week, Alexander, Bishop of Jerusalem, perished in prison.  Its fires were not without a purifying effect on the Christian community, but it shortly gave rise to a difficult question of discipline which much exercised Cyprian, the treatment of those who had “lapsed” or fallen away under terror of death or torments.  On the one hand there was a strong party of mere laxity at Carthage, on the other a strong party of unswerving and indiscriminating severity at Rome; and the controversy was complicated by purely personal elements, Cyprian’s election not having been by any means universally acceptable.  Of course it would be impossible to give now a narrative of the complicated transactions at Carthage and at Rome. It must suffice to say that Cyprian took an intermediate and carefully discriminative course, and that his policy was at last substantially adopted, though presently he was constrained by the force of circumstances, and especially a lesser persecution under Gallus, to accept a more indulgent set of rules than at first.
            Presently North Africa was invaded by a terrible pestilence from the East which lasted on for long years afterwards.  Cyprian instantly stood forward to organize his Christian flock for measures of help and relief, pecuniary and personal, insisting strongly on the duty of helping heathens as well as Christians in the spirit of true Sonship, following the example of Him who sends His rain and sunshine on all alike.
            Presently a fresh controversy arose when Stephen became Bishop of Rome. The former controversy had left behind it an unhappy schism, the followers of Novatian having split off from the Church at large in the name of stricter discipline.  The question now was whether persons having received Novatianist baptism, and subsequently joining the Church, needed to be baptized over again, or only to be received with laying on of hands. On this point Cyprian threw all his strength into the stricter theory, which had been falling into disuse in the West, and induced a large synod of North African Bishops to support it unanimously; while Stephen upheld the view that ultimately became fixed in the West, condemning such a repetition of baptism, only unfortunately he upheld it with much violence and intolerance.
            Stephen died in August 257.  In the same month a fresh persecution began under Valerian, and Cyprian was at once banished, though treated with remarkable respect and forbearance by the heathen authorities; and in his banishment he devoted himself to plans for help of other sufferers.  But in about a year the persecution assumed a more terrible form.  Xystus, Bishop of Rome, was beheaded as he sat preaching in his episcopal chair in one of the Roman cemeteries, and Cyprian returned to Carthage to await his now inevitable doom. The trial took place.  The sentence was read: “It is decreed that Thascius Cyprianus be executed by the sword.”  The record then proceeds, “Cyprian the Bishop said, ‘Thanks be to God.’”

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Hort's Lecture on Hippolytus and Clement of Alexandria

Fenton John Anthony Hort
            In 1890, Fenton John Anthony Hort (half of the Westcott-Hort duo) delivered a series of six lectures on ante-Nicene fathers.  They were published in 1895, a few years after his death.  What follows here, with slight adjustments, is the fourth lecture in the series.


            In Justin the Samaritan, who taught and who died a martyr’s death at Rome, we have had before us the most characteristic of the Greek apologists of the second century, a man who went about clad only in the traditional philosopher’s cloak, and who pleaded the cause of the Christians against the assaults of magistrates and populace on the ground that their faith and conduct should commend itself to philosophers and lovers of right reason.
            In Irenaeus, the disciple of Polycarp at Smyrna, who became bishop of Lyons and took an active part in promoting the peace of the Church when endangered by the intolerance of Victor, Bishop of Rome, we have had the first great theologian, in the strict sense of the word, whose writings are to any great extent preserved to us.  His great refutation of the leading doctrines of the teachers called Gnostics, is a still imperfectly worked mine of great thoughts on God's dealings with mankind through the ages, founded on the idea of the Word before and after the Incarnation.
            A few words are due to a disciple of Irenaeus, who forty years ago would have been commonly reckoned an obscure and unimportant Father, viz. Hippolytus.  Shortly after that date there was published from a manuscript then lately brought to Paris an elaborate Greek account and refutation of early heresies, chiefly ‘Gnostic,’ which it was soon recognized could not well have any other author than Hippolytus.  There is no real doubt about the matter, though, for quite intelligible reasons, a few still hold otherwise.  The author writes as a bishop, and Hippolytus is sometimes called Bishop of Rome, sometimes bishop of Portus, the commercial port of Rome.
            What he really was, is still an open question.  The most commonly received view is that which was suggested by Döllinger, that for at least a certain time Callistus and Hippolytus were respectively recognized by different parties in the Roman Church as each the only true and lawful Bishop of Rome, though eventually Callistus alone was officially acknowledged as having been bishop.  The treatise itself is one of much value for the extracts which it gives from Gnostical writings.  But of more general interest is the narrative of some of the inner history of the Roman Church under two successive bishops.  After every allowance has been made for the partisanship of the writer, the picture is not an agreeable one. But this lies outside our proper subject.  Of the part taken by Hippolytus it is enough to say that he regarded Callistus and
the dominant authorities of the Roman Church as dangerously lax in their admission of penitents to communion, and he likewise accused them of favoring a doctrine not far from Sabellianism, while he himself, from the manner in which he expounded the doctrine of the Word, a doctrine which evidently had little meaning for them, was accused by them of setting up two Gods to be worshipped. 
            The end of the story seems to be supplied by a curious early Roman record which states that “Pontianus the bishop” (the second after Callistus) and “Hippolytus the presbyter were banished to Sardinia, to the island of deadly climate.”  Perhaps, as has been suggested, the Roman magistrates took this way of enforcing peace in the Christian community, by getting rid of the two leaders together.  From another record forming part of the same document we learn that the Roman Church in the middle of the fourth century kept on the same day the festival of Hippolytus in one cemetery and of Pontianus in another, both evidently as martyrs.  Apparently they had both perished in the mines of Sardinia, and their bodies had been received back in peace together.  According to a somewhat confused tradition Hippolytus before his death had advised his followers to return to the communion of the Roman Church authorities.
            In the fourth and later centuries the strangest and most contradictory legends of his martyrdom became current.  By a singular good fortune a contemporary memorial of him has been preserved, such as we possess for no other early Father whatever.  Above three centuries ago a large part of an ancient sitting statue was dug up near Rome, and in due time recognized by the very interesting inscriptions on the base to have been no other than Hippolytus, though his name does not appear, and to have been erected shortly after his death.  In the great hall of the
Christian Museum at St. John Lateran, as you walk up between two lines of early Christian sarcophagi of the highest interest for their carving, you are faced by this great statue of Hippolytus looking down upon you from the platform at the end.
Ancient statue of Hippolytus
            Hippolytus was one of the three most learned Greek Fathers of his time, mostly the early part of the third century.  Of one of them Julius Africanus, of whom only fragments remain, I propose to say no more.  To Origen we shall come presently.  Hippolytus’ writings chiefly fall under two heads, doctrinal treatises of a controversial kind, and books connected with the study of Scripture, either actual commentaries or essays at constructing some sort of Scripture chronology.  His defense of the Gospel and Apocalypse of St. John against certain contemporary gainsayers might be reckoned under either head.  He was especially interested in the books of Daniel and Revelation, and in some of the questions which they suggest.  To him they were by no means questions of idle curiosity; for in the new hostility of the Roman state, as shown in the persecution of Septimius Severus, he supposed that he saw a fulfillment of apocalyptic prophecy.  All that remains of him however, with the exception of the great treatise on heresies, itself far from complete, makes up only a small volume. This is the more remarkable as the fame of his writings spread far and wide through the East, though the story of his life was unknown outside Rome or else forgotten.
            Hippolytus, following Irenaeus, has conducted us well into the third century.  We must now go back half a generation or so to make acquaintance with a different region and a different way of apprehending Christianity and its relation to the world, though no doubt to a certain extent anticipated by Justin Martyr.  Alexandria at the mouth of the Nile had long been a special home of Greek learning and philosophy, a place where the culture of Egypt, Asia, and Europe met together. But of still greater moment was the nature of the Judaism which had arisen in the midst of the vast Jewish population of the city, a Judaism almost wholly detached from the legal influences which dominated the Judaism of Palestine, and aiming especially at the comparison and harmonizing of the Old Testament, and specially the Pentateuch, with the better forms of Greek philosophy.  Of this Graecized Judaism we have invaluable examples in Philo’s writings. We know almost nothing of Alexandrian Christianity in its earlier days, but evidently it took its shape in no small degree from the type of Judaism which was already current in the place.
            In the middle part of the second century we hear of a Christian Catechetical school at Alexandria, probably for the instruction of the highly educated converts who joined the Church. The second name preserved to us from the list of its heads or chief instructors is that of the Sicilian Pantaenus, best remembered now as having gone on a missionary journey to India. Among his pupils was Clement of Alexandria, the Father who next claims our attention, and who often speaks of him, chiefly only under the title ‘the elder,’ with enthusiastic affection.  Clement himself is said to have been an Athenian and probably was so.  Profoundly Christian as he is, there is no Father who shows anything like the same familiarity with the ancient classical literature of Greece, especially the poetical literature.  
            It is not clear whether he was of Christian or of heathen parents, but we know from himself that he traveled in early life, and came under the influence of at least six different Christian teachers in different lands, whom he calls “blessed and truly memorable men.”  In Greece he met the first, an Ionian, i.e. probably from Western Asia Minor: two others in Magna Graecia, the Greek-speaking South part of Italy, one from Middle Syria and another from Egypt. Whether he went to Rome, as one would expect, does not appear: at all events he refers to no teacher met there.  From Italy he crossed to the East, and there he learned from an Assyrian, supposed to be Justin’s scholar Tatian, and from another, in Palestine, one of Jewish birth.  The last, he says, in order, but virtually the first, he found lurking in Egypt, and there he rested.  He had found Pantaenus.  There is reason to suppose that after a time he became a colleague of Pantaenus in the Catechetical school, and at all events when Pantaenus died he succeeded him, probably somewhere about the year 200.
            He was now or soon after a presbyter of the Church.  But two or three years later through a change in the policy of the Emperor Septimius Severus a persecution broke out, which fell with much severity on Alexandria, and the teachers of the Catechetical school, evidently including Clement, took refuge elsewhere. A few years after this we have a glimpse of him through a scrap of a letter of his pupil Alexander, fortunately preserved by Eusebius.  Alexander was at this time apparently bishop of a Cappadocian church; certainly he was in prison for conscience sake; and he wrote a congratulatory letter out of his prison on their recent choice of a new bishop, sending it by Clement whom he calls “the blessed presbyter, a man virtuous and well tried”: who by the Providence of God was then with him and had stablished and increased the Church.  
            Clement cannot have lived much longer.  In another letter to Origen, written before 216, Alexander again speaks affectionately of Clement as of Pantaenus, both as now departed.  These testimonies are of value as showing that Clement’s withdrawal from the approaching persecution was due to no selfish cowardice, but to such rightful avoidance of useless sacrifice of life as had been commanded by our Lord Himself when He bade the Apostles, “When they persecute you in one city, flee ye into another.”  For Alexander knew what martyrdom meant.  He was made Bishop of Jerusalem under very peculiar circumstances, partly in consequence of what were regarded as Divine monitions, partly on account of what he had bravely endured in the persecution.  It was the same to the end of his life.  In the year 250 he was brought before the magistrates in the Decian persecution, and thrown into prison, and there he died.

            Clement’s chief writings form a connected series. First comes the Hortatory Address to the Greeks; the purpose is to show that the Christian faith accomplishes what the heathen religions and philosophies vainly sought. It is too florid in style, and overloaded with superfluous illustrations. But it is inspired by the purest Christian fervor, and, apart from details, its general drift is at once lofty and true.  Next comes the Paidagogos, or Tutor.  The Tutor is not, as we might have guessed, the book itself; nor is he a man. It is none other than Christ the Word of the Father, the Tutor of mankind, educating them always in love and for their benefit, sometimes by gifts, sometimes by chastisements. The purpose of the book is the guidance of the youthful convert from heathenism in habits belonging to Christian morality.  The heads of this morality are not vague generalities, but practical and concrete enough; e.g. meat and drink, sumptuous furniture, behavior at feasts, laughter, bad language, social behavior, use of perfumes and garlands, sleep, marriage duties, dress and ornaments, use of cosmetics, use of baths, exercises. Alexandria seventeen centuries ago was clearly not so very different a place from towns better known to us.  The permanent interest of these discussions is very great.  Often as we may have to dissent from this or that remark, the wisdom and large-mindedness with which the Paedagogus is written are above all praise.  On the one hand there is an all-pervading sense that the Gospel is meant to be at once a molding and a restraining power in all the pettiest details as in the greatest affairs of life; on the other hand there is no morbid jealousy of the rightful use of God's good gifts, and no addiction to restrictions not commanded by morality, or not required for self-discipline.
            The third treatise of the series is commonly known by the name Stromateis (Stromata, common in modern books, is incorrect).  A stromateus was a long bag of striped canvas, in which bedclothes (stromata) were kept rolled up. Various writers had used this name for books of the nature of miscellanies. By Clement it is in strictness used only of the seven different books of the great treatise, Stromateus 1, 2 etc. His descriptive title, if less quaint, is more really interesting, “Gnostic jottings” (or “notes”) “according to the true philosophy.”
            The Alexandrian convert from heathenism needed instruction not only in the outward behavior proper to the Christian life but also in the deeper grounds of the Christian morality and religion.  In the schools of ordinary Greek philosophy he would learn the value and the dignity of wisdom and knowledge; and now he had to be taught that, whatever might be said to the contrary by unwise Christians, these things had a yet higher place under the Gospel: for the Christ whom it proclaimed was not only the Savior of mankind in the simplest and most obvious sense, but also One in whom lay hid the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
            Clement was not made timorous by the association of the word gnosis, ‘knowledge,’ with the sects called heretical of those whom we now call Gnostics.  Nay, it rather urged him to claim for the Church a word and an idea which could not be spared.  If St. Paul had spoken of a Christian Gnosis falsely so called, he had thereby implied that there was a right Christian Gnosis, a Gnosis truly so called; and this is what Clement set himself to defend and in part to provide.
            It is a leading idea of Clement that the Divinely ordained preparation for the Gospel ran in two parallel lines, that of the Jewish Law and Prophets and that of Greek philosophy.  His exposition of it is somewhat damaged by his following an old but quite unfounded commonplace of Jewish apologetics, much repeated by the Fathers, that the Greek philosophers borrowed largely from the Old Testament.  But the idea itself enabled him to look out both on the past history of mankind and on the mixed world around him with a hopeful and helpful faith.  The treatise is a very discursive one.  The leading heads are such as these:  faith, Christian fear, love, repentance, endurance, martyrdom, the true doctrine of marriage, teaching by signs and allegories, the attribution of human feelings to God in Scripture.  There is much comparison of Christian teaching on these themes with that of Greek philosophers and also of leading Pseudo-Gnostics, usually in a candid and discriminating manner.  But it is no merely theoretical knowledge that is here celebrated.
            The true Gnostic, according to Clement, is “he who imitates God in so far as is possible [for man] omitting nothing pertaining to such growth in the Divine likeness as comes within his reach, practicing self-restraint, enduring, living justly, reigning over his passions, imparting of what he possesses, doing good by word and deed to the best of his power. He, it is said, is greatest in the kingdom of heaven who shall do and teach in imitation of God by showing free grace like His, for the bounties of God are for the common benefit.”  [From Clem. Alex. Strom. ii. p. 480 Potter.]
            The fourth treatise of the series, written after Clement left Alexandria, was called Hypotyposeis, ‘Outlines.’  The greater part of it unhappily is lost, though a fair number of difficult but peculiarly interesting fragments of it have been preserved.  Its subject was apparently fundamental doctrine, while it also contained expository notes on various books of the Bible, including St Paul’s Epistles and four out of the Catholic Epistles.  What remains enables us to see that this first great attempt to bring the Gospel into close relation with the whole range of human thought and experience en other lines than those of the Pseudo-Gnostics contained, as was natural, various theological crudities which could not ultimately be accepted, while it must also have been rich in matter of permanent value.
            In addition to the great series of four, Clement wrote several minor treatises now almost wholly lost, except a tract on the question What Rich Man Can Be Saved? It contains the well-known beautiful story of St. John and the young man who became a bandit.
            We must now bid farewell to Clement of Alexandria.  He was not, as far as we know, one of those whose writings have exercised a wide or a powerful influence over subsequent theology. Large portions of his field of thought remained for long ages unworked, or even remain unworked still.  But what he at once humbly and bravely attempted under great disadvantages at the beginning of the third century will have to be attempted afresh with the added experience and knowledge of seventeen Christian centuries more, if the Christian faith is to hold its ground among men; and when the attempt is made, not a few of his thoughts and words will probably shine out with new force, full of light for dealing with new problems.
            A comparatively simple passage from the Stromateis [From Clem. Alex. Strom, vii. p. 864 P.] on faith, knowledge, love, will sufficiently illustrate his way of writing.
            “Knowledge (i.e. Christian knowledge. Gnosis) is so to speak a perfecting of a man as a man, accomplished through acquaintance with Divine things, in demeanor and life and word, harmonious and concordant with itself and with the Divine Word. For by it faith is perfected, this being the only way in which the man who has faith becomes perfect.  Now faith is a kind of inward good, and even without seeking God, it confesses that He is and glorifies Him as being. Hence a man must start from this faith, and when he has made increase in it must by the Grace of God receive as far as he can the knowledge (Gnosis) concerning Him. . . . Not to doubt about God but to believe is the foundation of Gnosis, while Christ is both at once the foundation and the structure built upon it, even as through Him is both the beginning of things and their [several] ends. And the things that stand first and last, I mean faith and love, do not come by teaching, but Gnosis transmitted by tradition according to the Grace of God is entrusted as a deposit to those who show themselves worthy of the teaching; and from Gnosis the dignity of love shines forth, out of light into light.  For it is said ‘To him that hath shall more be added’; to faith shall be added Gnosis, and to Gnosis love, and to love the inheritance”;  i.e. (I suppose) the fullness of Divine Sonship.”
            I will only add half-a-dozen pregnant lines from another Stromateus [Clem. Alex. Strom. v. p. 633 P.] expounding by a memorable image the true relation between man and God in prayer. “As,” he says, “men attached at sea to an anchor by a tight cable, when they pull at the anchor, draw not the anchor to themselves but themselves to the anchor, even so they who in the Gnostic life draw God to them (i.e. so it seems to them) have unawares been bringing themselves towards God.”