دراسات أبائية

     
   
 

Patrology
علم الباترولوجي
"كتابات الآباء "

THE STROMATA, OR MISCELLANIES: BOOK VII (Chap. I to Chap. X)

 

CHAP. I.--THE GNOSTIC A TRUE WORSHIPPER OF GOD, AND UNJUSTLY CALUMNIATED BY UNBELIEVERS AS AN ATHEIST.

It is now time to show the Greeks that the Gnostic alone is truly pious; so that the philosophers, learning of what description the true Christian is, may condemn their own stupidity in rashly and inconsiderately persecuting the [Christian] name, and without reason calling those impious who know the true God. And clearer arguments must be employed, I reckon, with the philosophers, so that they may be able, from the exercise they have already had through their own training, to understand, although they have not yet shown themselves worthy to partake of the power of believing.
The prophetic sayings we shall not at present advert to, as we are to avail ourselves of the Scriptures subsequently at the proper places. But we shall point out summarily the points indicated by them, in our delineation of Christianity, so that by taking the Scriptures at once (especially as they do not yet comprehend their utterances), we may not interrupt the continuity of the discourse. But after pointing out the things indicated, proofs shall be shown in abundance to those who have believed.
But if the assertions made by us appear to certain of the multitude to be different from the Scriptures of the Lord, let it be known that it is from that source that they have breath and life; and taking their rise from them, they profess to adduce the sense only, not the words. For further treatment, not being seasonable, will rightly appear superfluous. Thus, not to look at what is urgent would be excessively indolent and defective; and "blessed, in truth, are they who, investigating the testimonies of the Lord, shall seek Him with their whole heart."[1] And the law and the prophets witness of the Lord.
It is, then, our purpose to prove that the Gnostic alone is holy and pious, and worships the true God in a manner worthy of Him; and that worship meet for God is followed by loving and being loved by God. He accordingly judges all excellence to be honourable according to its worth; and judges that among the objects perceived by our senses, we are to esteem rulers, and parents, and every one advanced in years; and among subjects of instruction, the most ancient philosophy and primeval prophecy; and among intellectual ideas, what is oldest in origin, the timeless and unoriginated First Principle, and Beginning of existences--the Son--from whom we are to learn the remoter Cause, the Father, of the universe, the most ancient and the most beneficent of all; not capable of expression by the voice, but to be reverenced with reverence, and silence, and holy wonder, and supremely venerated; declared by the Lord, as far as those who learned were capable of comprehending, and understood by those chosen by the Lord to acknowledge; "whose senses," says the apostle, "were exercised.''[2]
The service of God, then, in the case of the Gnostic, is his soul's continual study[3] and occupation, bestowed on the Deity in ceaseless love. For of the service bestowed on men, one kind is that whose aim is improvement, the other ministerial. The improvement of the body is the object of the medical art, of the soul of philosophy. Ministerial service is rendered to parents by children, to rulers by subjects.
Similarly, also, in the Church, the elders attend to the department which has improvement for its object; and the deacons to the ministerial. In both these ministries the angels[4] serve God, in the management of earthly affairs; and the Gnostic himself ministers to God, and exhibits to men the scheme of improvement, in the way in which he has been appointed to discipline men for their amendment. For he is alone pious that serves God rightly and unblameably in human affairs. For as that treatment of plants is best through which their fruits are produced and gathered in, through knowledge and skill in husbandry, affording men the benefit accruing from them; so the piety of the Gnostic, taking to itself the fruits of the men who by his means have believed, when not a few attain to knowledge and are saved by it, achieves by his skill the best harvest. And as Godliness (<greek>qeo</greek>-<greek>prepeia</greek>) is the habit which preserves what is becoming to God, the godly man is the only lover of God, and such will he be who knows what is becoming, both in respect of knowledge and of the life which must be lived by him, who is destined to be divine (<greek>qep</greek>), and is already being assimilated to God. So then he is in the first place a lover of God. For as he who honours his father is a lover of his father, so he who honours God is a lover of God.
Thus also it appears to me that there are three effects of gnostic power: the knowledge of things; second, the performance of whatever the Word suggests; and the third, the capability of delivering, in a way suitable to God, the secrets veiled in the truth.
He, then, who is persuaded that God is omnipotent, and has learned the divine mysteries from His only-begotten Son, how can he be an atheist (<greek>apeos</greek>)? For he is an atheist who thinks that God does not exist. And he is superstitious who dreads the demons; who deifies all things, both wood and stone; and reduces to bondage spirit, and man who possesses the life of reason.[1]

CHAP. II.--THE SON THE RULER AND SAVIOUR OF ALL.

To know[2] God is, then, the first step of faith; then, through confidence in the teaching of the Saviour, to consider the doing of wrong in any way as not suitable to the knowledge of God.
So the best thing on earth is the most pious man; and the best thing in heaven, the nearer in place and purer, is an angel, the partaker of the eternal and blessed life. But the nature of the Son, which is nearest to Him who is alone the Almighty One, is the most perfect, and most holy, and most potent, and most princely, and most kingly, and most beneficent. This is the highest excellence, which orders all things in accordance with the Father's will, and holds the helm of the universe in the best way, with unwearied and tireless power, working all things in which it operates, keeping in view its hidden designs. For from His own point of view the Son of God is never displaced; not being divided, not severed, not passing from place to place; being always everywhere, and being contained nowhere; complete mind, the complete paternal light; all eyes, seeing all things, hearing all things, knowing all things, by His power scrutinizing the powers. To Him is placed in subjection all the host of angels and gods; He, the paternal Word, exhibiting[3] a the holy administration for Him who put [all] in subjection to Him.
Wherefore also all men are His; some through knowledge, and others not yet so; and some as friends, some as faithful servants, some as servants merely. This is the Teacher, who trains the Gnostic by mysteries, and the believer by good hopes, and the hard of heart by corrective discipline through sensible operation. Thence His providence is in private, in public, and everywhere.
And that He whom we call Saviour and Lord is the Son of God, the prophetic Scriptures explicitly prove. So the Lord of all, of Greeks and of Barbarians, persuades those who are willing. For He does not compel him[3] who (through choosing and fulfilling, from Him, what pertains to laying hold of it the hope) is able to receive salvation from Him.
It is He who also gave philosophy to the Greeks by means of the inferior angels. For by an ancient and divine order the angels are distributed among the nations.[5] But the glory of those who believe is "the Lord's portion." For either the Lord does not care for all men; and this is the case either because He is unable (which is not to be thought, for it would be a proof of weakness), or because He is unwilling, which is not the attribute of a good being. And He who for our sakes assumed flesh capable of suffering, is far from being luxuriously indolent. Or He does care for all, which is befitting for Him who has become Lord of all. For He is Saviour; not [the Saviour] of some, and of others not. But in proportion to the adaptation possessed by each, He has dispensed His beneficence both to Greeks and Barbarians, even to those of them that were predestinated, and in due time called, the faithful and elect. Nor can He who called all equally, and assigned special honours to those who have believed in a specially excellent way, ever envy any. Nor can He who is the Lord of all, and serves above all the will of the good and almighty Father, ever be hindered by another. But neither does envy touch the Lord, who without beginning was impassible; nor are the things of men such as to be envied by the Lord. But it is another, he whom passion hath touched, who envies. And it cannot be said that it is from ignorance that the Lord is not willing to save humanity, because He knows not how each one is to be cared for. For ignorance applies not to the God who, before the foundation of the world, was the counsellor of the Father. For He was the Wisdom "in which" the Sovereign God "delighted."[1] For the Son is the power of God, as being the Father's most ancient Word before the production of all things, and His Wisdom. He is then properly called the Teacher of the beings formed by Him. Nor does He ever abandon care for men, by being drawn aside from pleasure, who, having assumed flesh, which by nature is susceptible of suffering, trained it to the condition of impossibility.
And how is He Saviour and Lord, if not the Saviour and Lord of all? But He is the Saviour of those who have believed, because of their l wishing to know; and the Lord of those who have not believed, till, being enabled to confess him, they obtain the peculiar and appropriate boon which comes by Him.
Now the energy of the Lord has a reference to the Almighty; and the Son is, so to speak, an energy of the Father. Therefore, a hater of man, the Saviour can never be; who, for His exceeding love to human flesh, despising not its susceptibility to suffering, but investing Himself with it, came for the common salvation of men; for the faith of those who have chosen it, is common. Nay more, He will never neglect His own work, because man alone of all the other living creatures was in his creation endowed with a conception of God. Nor can there be any other better and more suitable government for men than that which is appointed by God.
It is then always proper for the one who is superior by nature to be over the inferior, and for him who is capable of managing aught well to have the management of it assigned to him. Now that which truly rules and presides is the Divine Word and His providence, which inspects all things, and despises the care of nothing belonging to it.
Those, then, who choose to belong to Him, are those who are perfected through faith. He, the Son, is, by the will of the Almighty Father, the cause of all good things, being the first efficient cause of motion--a power incapable of being apprehended by sensation. For what He was, was not seen by those who, through the weakness of the flesh, were incapable of taking in [the reality]. But, having assumed sensitive flesh, He came to show man what was possible through obedience to the commandments. Being, then, the Father's power, He easily prevails in what He wishes, leaving not even the minutest point of His administration unattended to. For otherwise the whole would not have been well executed by Him.
But, as I think, characteristic of the highest power is the accurate scrutiny of all the parts, reaching even to the minutest, terminating in the first Administrator of the universe, who by the will of the Father directs the salvation of all; some overlooking, who are set under others, who are set over them, till you come to the great High Priest. For on one original first Principle, which acts according to the [Father's] will, the first and the second and the third depend. Then at the highest extremity of the visible world is the blessed band of angels;[2] and down to ourselves there are ranged, some under others, those who, from One and by One, both are saved and save.
As, then, the minutest particle of steel is moved by the spirit of the Heraclean stone[3] when diffused[4] over many steel rings; so also, attracted by the Holy Spirit, the virtuous are added by affinity to the first abode, and the others in succession down to the last. But those who are bad from infirmity, having fallen from vicious insatiableness into a depraved state, neither controlling nor controlled, rush round and round, whirled about by the passions, and fall down to the ground.
For this was the law from the first, that virtue should be the object of voluntary choice. Wherefore also the commandments, according to the Law, and before the Law, not given to the upright (for the law is not appointed for a righteous man[5]) , ordained that he should receive eternal life and the blessed prize, who chose them.
But, on the other hand, they allowed him who had been delighted with vice to consort with the objects of his choice; and, on the other hand, that the soul, which is ever improving in the acquisition[6] of virtue and the increase of righteousness, should obtain a better place in the universe, as tending in each step of advancement towards the habit of impassibility, till "it come to a perfect man,"[7] to the excellence at once of knowledge and of inheritance.
These salutary revolutions, in accordance with the order of change, are distinguished both by times, and places, and honours, and cognitions, and heritages, and ministries, according to the particular order of each change, up to the transcendent and continual contemplation of the Lord in eternity.
Now that which is lovable leads, to the contemplation of itself, each one who, from love of knowledge, applies himself entirely to contemplation. Wherefore also the Lord, drawing the commandments, both the first which He gave, and the second, from one fountain, neither allowed those who were before the law to be without law, nor permitted those who were unacquainted with the principles of the Barbarian philosophy to be without restraint. For, having furnished the one with the commandments, and the other with philosophy, He shut up unbelief to the Advent. Whence[1] every one who believes not is without excuse. For by a different process of advancement, both Greek and Barbarian, He leads to the perfection which is by faith.[2]
And if any one of the Greeks, passing over the preliminary training of the Hellenic philosophy, proceeds directly to the true teaching, he distances others, though an unlettered man, by choosing[3] the compendious process of salvation by faith to perfection.
Everything, then, which did not hinder a man's choice from being free, He made and rendered auxiliary to virtue, in order that there might be revealed somehow or other, even to those capable of seeing but dimly, the one only almighty, good God--from eternity to eternity saving by His Son.
And, on the other hand, He is in no respect whatever the cause of evil. For all things are arranged with a view to the salvation of the universe by the Lord of the universe, both generally and particularly. It is then the function of the righteousness of salvation to improve everything as far as practicable. For even minor marten are arranged with a view to the salvation of that which is better, and for an abode suitable for people's character. Now everything that is virtuous changes for the better; having as the proper[4] cause of change the free choice of knowledge, which the soul has in its own power. But necessary corrections, through the goodness of the great overseeing Judge, both by the attendant angels, and by various acts of anticipative judgment, and by the perfect judgment, compel egregious sinners to repent.

CHAP. III.--THE GNOSTIC AIMS AT THE NEAREST LIKENESS POSSIBLE TO GOD AND HIS SON.

Now I pass over other things in silence, glorifying the Lord. But I affirm that gnostic souls, that surpass in the grandeur of contemplation the mode of life of each of the holy ranks, among whom the blessed abodes of the gods are allotted by distribution, reckoned holy among the holy, transferred entire from among the entire, reaching places better than the better places, embracing the divine vision not in mirrors or by means of mirrors, but in the transcendently clear and absolutely pure insatiable vision which is the privilege of intensely loving souls, holding festival through endless ages, remain honoured with the indentity of all excellence. Such is the vision attainable by "the pure in heart."[5] This is the function of the Gnostic, who has been perfected, to have convene with God through the great High Priest, being made like the Lord, up to the measure of his capacity, in the whole service of God, which tends to the salvation of men, through care of the beneficence which has us for its object; and on the other side through worship, through teaching and through beneficence in deeds. The Gnostic even forms and creates himself; and besides also, he, like to God, adorns those who hear him; assimilating as far as possible the moderation which, arising from practice, tends to impossibility, to Him who by nature possesses impossibility; and especially having uninterrupted converse and fellowship with the Lord. Mildness, I think, and philanthropy, and eminent piety, are the rules of gnostic assimilation. I affirm that these virtues "are a sacrifice acceptable in the sight of God; "[6] heart with Scripture alleging that"[7] right knowledge is the holocaust of God; each man who is admitted to holiness being illuminated in order to indissoluble union.
For "to bring themselves into captivity," and to slay themselves, putting to death "the old man, who is through lusts corrupt," and raising the new man from death, "from the old conversation," by abandoning the passions, and becoming free of sin, both the Gospel and the apostle enjoin.[8]
It was this, consequently, which the Law intimated, by ordering the sinner to be cut off, and translated from death to life, to the impossibility that is the result of faith; which the teachers of the Law, not comprehending, inasmuch as they regarded the law as contentions, they have given a handle to those who attempt idly to calumniate the Law. And for this reason we rightly do not sacrifice to God, who, needing nothing, supplies all men with all things; but we glorify Him who gave Himself in sacrifice for us, we also sacrificing ourselves; from that which needs nothing to that which needs nothing, and to that which is impassible from that which is impassible. For in our salvation alone God delights. We do not therefore, and with reason too, offer sacrifice to Him who is not overcome by pleasures, inasmuch as the fumes of the smoke stop far beneath, and do not even reach the thickest clouds; but those they reach are far from them. The Deity neither is, then, in want of aught, nor loves pleasure, or gain, or money, being full, and supplying all things to everything that has received being and has wants. And neither by sacrifices nor offerings, nor on the other hand by glory and honour, is the Deity won over; nor is He influenced by any such things; but He appears only to excellent and good men, who will never betray justice for threatened fear, nor by the promise of considerable gifts.
But those who have not seen the self-determination of the human soul, and its incapability of being treated as a slave in what respects the choice of life, being disgusted at what is done through rude injustice, do not think that there is a God. On a par with these in opinion, are they who, falling into licentiousness in pleasures, and grievous pains, and unlooked-for accidents, and bidding defiance to events, say that there is no God, or that, though existing, He does not oversee all things. And others there are, who are persuaded that those they reckon gods are capable of being prevailed upon by sacrifices and gifts, favouring, so to speak, their prof-ligacies; and will not believe that He is the only true God, who exists in the invariablehess of righteous goodness.
The Gnostic, then, is pious, who cares first for himself, then for his neighbours, that they may become very good. For the son gratifies a good father, by showing himself good and like his father; and in like manner the subject, the governor. For believing and obeying are in our own power.
But should any one suppose the cause of evils to be the weakness of matter, and the involuntary impulses of ignorance, and (in his stupidity) irrational necessities; he who has become a Gnostic has through instruction superiority over these, as if they were wild beasts; and in imitation of the divine plan, he does good to such as are willing, as far as he can. And if ever placed in authority, like Moses, he will rule for the salvation of the governed; and will tame wildness and faithlessness, by recording honour for the most excellent, and punishment for the wicked, in accordance with reason for the sake of discipline.
For pre-eminently a divine image, resembling God, is the soul of a righteous man; in which, through obedience to the commands, as in a consecrated spot, is enclosed and enshrined the Leader of mortals and of immortals, King and Parent of what is good, who is truly law, and right, and eternal Word, being the one Saviour individually to each, and in common to all.
He is the true Only-begotten, the express image of the glory of the universal King and Almighty Father, who impresses on the Gnostic the seal of the perfect contemplation, according to His own image; so that there is now a third divine image, made as far as possible like the Second Cause, the Essential Life, through which we live the true life; the Gnostic, as we regard him, being described as moving amid things sure and wholly immutable.
Ruling, then, over himself and what belongs to him, and possessing a sure grasp, of divine science, he makes a genuine approach to the truth. For the knowledge and apprehension of intellectual objects must necessarily be called certain scientific knowledge, whose function in reference to divine things is to consider what is the First Cause, and what that "by whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made; "[1] and what things, on the other hand, are as pervasive, and what is comprehensive; what conjoined, what disjoined; and what is the position which each one of them holds, and what power and what service each contributes. And again. among human things, what man himself is, and what he has naturally or preternaturally; and how, again, it becomes him to do or to suffer; and what are his virtues and what his vices; and about things good, bad, and indifferent; also about fortitude, and prudence, and self-restraint, and the virtue which is in all respects complete, namely, righteousness.
Further, he employs prudence and righteousness in the acquisition of wisdom, and fortitude, not only in the endurance of circumstances, but also in restraining[2] pleasure and desire, grief and anger; and, in general, to withstand[3] everything which either by any force or fraud entices us. For it is not necessary to endure vices and virtues, but it is to be persuaded to bear things that inspire fear.
Accordingly, pain is found beneficial in the healing art, and in discipline, and in punishment; and by it men's manners are corrected to their advantage. Forms of fortitude are endurance, magnanimity, high spirit, liberality, and grandeur. And for this reason he neither meets with the blame or the bad opinion of the multitude; nor is he subjected to opinions or flatteries. But in the indurance of toils and at the same time[1] in the discharge of any duty, and in his manly superiority to all circumstances, he appears truly a man (<greek>anhr</greek>) among the rest of human beings. And, on the other hand, maintaining prudence, he exercises moderation in the calmness of his soul; receptive of what is commanded, as of what belongs to him, entertaining aversion to what is base, as alien to him; become decorous and supramundane,[2] he does everything with decorum and in order, and transgresses in no respect, and in nothing. Rich he is in the highest degree in desiring nothing, as having few wants; and being in the midst of abundance of all good through the knowledge of the good. For it is the first effect of his righteousness, to love to spend his time and associate with those of his own race both in earth and heaven. So also he is liberal of what he possesses. And being a lover of men, he is a hater of the wicked, entertaining a perfect aversion to all villany. He must consequently learn to be faithful both to himself and his neighbours, and obedient to the commandments. For he is the true servant of God who spontaneously subjects himself to His commands. And he who already, not through the commandments, but through knowledge itself, is pure in heart, is the friend of God. For neither are we born by nature possessing virtue, nor after we are born does it grow naturally, as certain parts of the body; since then it would neither be voluntary nor praiseworthy. Nor is virtue, like speech, perfected by the practice that results from everyday occurrences (for this is very much the way in which vice originates). For it is not by any art, either those of acquisition, or those which relate to the care of the body, that knowledge is attained. No more is it from the curriculum of instruction. For that is satisfied if it can only prepare and sharpen the soul. For the laws of the state are perchance able to restrain bad actions; but persuasive words, which but touch the surface, cannot produce a scientific permanence of the truth.
Now the Greek philosophy, as it were, purges the soul, and prepares it beforehand for the reception of faith, on which the Truth builds up the edifice of knowledge.
This is the true athlete--he who in the great stadium, the fair world, is crowned for the true victory over all the passions. For He who prescribes the contest is the Almighty God, and He who awards the prize is the only-begotten: Son of God. Angels and gods are spectators; and the contest, embracing all the varied exercises, is "not against flesh and blood,"[3] but against the spiritual powers of inordinate passions that work through the flesh. He who obtains the mastery in these struggles, and overthrows the tempter, menacing, as it were, with certain contests, wins immortality. For the sentence of God in most righteous judgment is infallible. The spectators[4] are summoned to the contest, and the athletes contend in the stadium; the one, who has obeyed the directions of the trainer, wins the day. For to all, all rewards proposed by God are equal; and He Himself is unimpeachable. And he who has power receives mercy, and he that has exercised will is mighty.
So also we have received mind, that we may know what we do. And the maxim "Know thyself" means here to know for what we are born. And we are born to obey the commandments, if we choose to be willing to be saved. Such is the Nemesis,s through which there is no escaping from God. Man's duty, then, is obedience to God, who has proclaimed salvation manifold by the commandments. And confession is thanksgiving. For the beneficent first begins to do good. And he who on fitting considerations readily receives and keeps the commandments, is faithful (<greek>pistos</greek>); and he who by love requites benefits as far as he is able, is already a friend. One recompense on the part of men is of paramount importance--the doing of what is pleasing to God. As being His own production, and a result akin to Himself, the Teacher and Saviour receives acts of assistance and of improvement on the part of men as a personal favour and honour; as also He regards the injuries inflicted on those who believe on Him as ingratitude and dishonour to Himself. For what other dishonour can touch God ? Wherefore it is impossible to render a recompense at all equivalent to the boon received from the Lord.
And as those who maltreat property insult the owners, and those who maltreat soldiers insult the commander, so also the ill-usage of His consecrated ones is contempt for the Lord.
For, just as the sun not only illumines heaven and the whole world, shining over land and sea, but also through windows and small chinks sends his beams into the innermost recesses of houses, so the Word diffused everywhere casts His eye-glance on the minutest circumstances of the actions of life.

CHAP. IV.--THE HEATHENS MADE GODS LIKE THEMSELVES, WHENCE SPRINGS ALL SUPERSTITION.

Now, as the Greeks represent the gods as possessing human forms, so also do they as possessing human passions. And as each of them depict their forms similar to themselves, as Xenophanes says, "Ethiopians as black and apes, the Thracians ruddy and tawny;" so also they assimilate their souls to those who form them: the Barbarians, for instance, who make them savage and wild; and the Greeks, who make them more civilized, yet subject to passion.
Wherefore it stands to reason, that the ideas entertained of God by wicked men must be bad, and those by good men most excellent. And therefore he who is in soul truly kingly and gnostic, being likewise pious and free from superstition, is persuaded that He who alone is God is honourable, venerable, august, beneficent, the doer of good, the author of all good things, but not the cause of evil. And respecting the Hellenic superstition we have, as I think, shown enough in the book entitled by us The Exhortation, availing ourselves abundantly of the history bearing on the point. There is no need, then, again to make a long story of what has already been clearly stated. But in as far as necessity requires to be pointed out on coming to the topic, suffice it to adduce a few out of many considerations in proof of the impiety of those who make the Divinity resemble the worst men. For either those Gods of theirs are injured by men, and are shown to be inferior to men on being injured by us; or, if not so, how is it that they are incensed at those by whom they are not injured, like a testy old wife roused to wrath?
As they say that Artemis was enraged at the Aetolians on account of OEneus.[1] For how, being a goddess, did she not consider that he had neglected to sacrifice, not through contempt, but out of inadvertence, or under the idea that he had sacrificed?
And Latona,[2] arguing her case with Athene, on account of the latter being incensed at her for having brought forth in the temple, says:--

"Man-slaying spoils
Torn from the dead you love to see. And these
To you are not unclean. But you regard
My parturition here a horrid thing,
Though other creatures in the temple do
No harm by bringing forth their young."

It is natural, then, that having a superstitious dread of those irascible [gods], they imagine that all events are signs and causes of evils. If a mouse bore through an altar built of clay, and for want of something else gnaw through an oil flask; if a cock that is being fattened crow in the evening, they determine this to be a sign of something.
Of such a one Menander gives a comic description in The Supersitios Man :--

"A. Good luck be mine, ye honoured gods!
Tying my ,right shoe's string,
I broke it."

"B. Most likely, silly fool,
For it was rotten, and you, niggard, you
Would not buy new ones."[3]

It was a clever remark of Antiphon, who (when one regarded it as an ill omen that the sow had eaten her pigs), on seeing her emaciated through the niggardliness of the person that kept her, said, Congratulate yourself on the omen that, being so hungry, she did not eat your own children.
"And what wonder is it," says Bion, "if the mouse, finding nothing to eat, gnaws the bag?" For it were wonderful if (as Arcesilaus argued in fun) "the bag had eaten the mouse."
Diogenes accordingly remarked well to one who wondered at finding a serpent coiled round a pestle: "Don't wonder; for it would have been more surprising if you had seen the pestle coiled round the serpent, and the serpent straight."
For the irrational creatures must run, and scamper, and fight, and breed, and die; and these things being natural to them, can never be unnatural to us.

"And many birds beneath the sunbeams walk."

And the comic poet Philemon treats such points in comedy:--

"When I see one who watches who has sneezed,
Or who has spoke; or looking, who goes on,
I straightway in the market sell him off.
Each one of us walks, talks, and sneezes too,
For his own self, not for the citizens:
According to their nature things turn out."

Then by the practice of temperance men seek health: and by cramming themselves, and wallowing in potations at feasts, they attract diseases.
There are many, too, that dread inscriptions set up. Very cleverly Diogenes, on finding in the house of a bad man the inscription, "Hercules, for victory famed, dwells here; let nothing bad enter," remarked, "And how shall the master of the house go in ?"
The same people, who worship every stick and greasy stone, as the saying is, dreads tufts of tawny wool, and lumps of salt, and torches, and squills, and sulphur, bewitched by sorcerers, in certain impure rites of expiation. But God, the true God, recognises as holy only the character of the righteous man,--as unholy, wrong and wickedness.
You may see the eggs,[4] taken from those who have been purified, hatched if subjected to the necessary warmth. But this could not take place if they had had transferred to them the sins of the man that had undergone purification. Accordingly the comic poet Diphilus facetiously writes, in comedy, of sorcerers, in the following words:--

"Purifying Proetus' daughters, and their father
Proetus Abantades, and fifth, an old wife to boot,
So many people's persons with one torch, one squill,
With sulphur and asphalt of the loud-sounding sea,
From the placid-flowing, deep-flowing ocean.
But blest air through the clouds send Anticyra
That I may make this bug into a drone."

For well Menander remarks:[1]--

"Had you, O Phidias, any real ill,
You needs must seek for it a real cure;
Now 'tis not so. And for the unreal ill
I've found an unreal cure Believe that it
Will do thee good. Let women in a ring
Wipe thee, and from three fountains water bring.
Add salt and lentils; sprinkle then thyself.
Each one is pure, who s conscious of no sin."

For instance, the tragedy says:--

Menelaus. "What disease, Orestes, is destroying thee?"
Orestes. "Conscience. For horrid deeds I know I've done."[2]

For in reality there is no other purity but abstinence from sins. Excellently then Epicharmus says:--

"If a pure mind thou hast,
In thy whole body thou art pure."

Now also we say that it is requisite to purify the soul from corrupt and bad doctrines by right reason; and so thereafter to the recollection of the principal heads of doctrine. Since also before the communication of the mysteries they think it right to apply certain purifications to those who are to be initiated; so it is requisite for men to abandon impious opinion, and thus turn to the true tradition.

CHAP. V.--THE HOLY SOUL A MORE EXCELLENT TEMPLE THAN ANY EDIFICE BUILT BY MAN.

For is it not the case that rightly and truly we do not circumscribe in any place that which cannot be circumscribed; nor do we shut up in temples made with hands that which contains all things ? What work of builders, and stonecutters, and mechanical art can be holy? Superior to these are not they who think that the air, and the enclosing space, or rather the whole world and the universe, are meet for the excellency of God ?
It were indeed ridiculous, as the philosophers themselves say, for man, the plaything[3] of God, to make God, and for God to be the plaything[4] of art; since what is made is similar and the same to that of which it is made, as that which is made of ivory is ivory, and that which is made of gold golden. Now the images and temples constructed by mechanics are made of inert matter; so that they too are inert, and material, and profane; and if you perfect the art, they partake of mechanical coarseness. Works of art cannot then be sacred and divine.
And what can be localized, there being nothing that is not localized ? Since all things are in a place. And that which is localized having been formerly not localized, is localized by something. If, then, God is localized by men, He was once not localized, and did not exist at all. For the non-existent is what is not localized; since whatever does not exist is not localized. And what exists cannot be localized by what does not exist; nor by another entity. For it is also an entity. It follows that it must be by itself. And how shall anything generate itself ? Or how shall that which exists place itself as to being? Whether, being formerly not localized, has it localized itself ? But it was not in existence; since what exists not is not localized. And its localization being supposed, how can it afterwards make itself what it previously was?
But how can He, to whom the things that are belong, need anything? But were God possessed of a human form, He would need, equally with man, food, and shelter, and house, and the attendant incidents. Those who are like in form and affections will require similar sustenance. And if sacred (<greek>tp</greek> <greek>ier?n</greek>) has a twofold application, designating both God Himself and the structure raised to His honour,[5] how shall we not with propriety call the Church holy, through knowledge, made for the honour of God, sacred (<greek>ieron</greek>) to God, of great value, and not constructed by mechanical art, nor embellished by the hand of an impostor, but by the will of God fashioned into a temple ? For it is not now the place, but the assemblage of the elect,[6] that I call the Church. This temple is better for the reception of the greatness of the dignity of God. For the living creature which is of high value, is made sacred by that which is worth all, or rather which has no equivalent, in virtue of the exceeding sanctity of the latter. Now this is the Gnostic, who is of great value, who is honoured by God, in whom God is enshrined, that is, the knowledge respecting God is consecrated. Here, too, we shall find the divine likeness and the holy image in the righteous soul, when it is blessed in being purified and performing blessed deeds. Here also we shall find that which is localized, and that which is being localized,--the former in the case of those who are already Gnostics, and the latter in the case of those capable of becoming so, although not yet worthy of receiving the knowledge of God. For every being destined to believe is already faithful in the sight of God, and set up for His honour, an image, endowed with virtue, dedicated to God.

CHAP. VI.--PRAYERS AND PRAISE FROM A PURE MIND, CEASELESSLY OFFERED, FAR BETTER THAN SACRIFICES.

As, then, God is not circumscribed by place, neither is ever represented by the form of a living creature; so neither has He similar passions, nor has He wants like the creatures, so as to desire sacrifice, from hunger, by way of food. Those creatures which are affected by passion are all mortal. And it is useless to bring food to one who is not nourished.
And that comic poet Pherecrates, in The Fugitives, facetiously represents the gods themselves as finding fault with men on the score of their sacred rites:--

"When to the gods you sacrifice,
Selecting what our portion is,
'Tis shame to tell, do ye not take,
And both the thighs, clean to the groins,
The loins quite bare, the backbone, too,
Clean scrape as with a file,
Them swallow, and the remnant give
To us as if to dogs? And then,
As if of one another 'shamed,
With heaps of salted barley hide."[1]

And Eubulus, also a comic poet, thus writes respecting sacrifices:--

"But to the gods the tail alone
And thigh, as if to paederasts you sacrifice."

And introducing Dionysus in Semele, he represents him disputing:--

"First if they offer aught to me, there are
Who offer blood, the bladder, not the heart
Or caul. For I no flesh do ever eat
That's sweeter than the thigh."[2]

And Menander writes:--

"The end of the loin,
The bile, the bones uneatable, they set
Before the gods; the rest themselves consume."

For is not the savour of the holocausts avoided by the beasts? And if in reality the savour is the guerdon of the gods of the Greeks, should they not first deify the cooks, who are dignified with equal happiness, and worship the chimney itself, which is closer still to the much-prized savour?
And Hesiod says that Zeus, cheated in a division of flesh by Prometheus, received the white bones of an ox, concealed with cunning art, in shining fat:--

"Whence to the immortal gods the tribes of men
The victim's white bones on the altars burn."

But they will by no means say that the Deity, enfeebled through the desire that springs from want, is nourished. Accordingly, they will represent Him as nourished without desire like a plant, and like beasts that burrow. They say that these grow innoxiously, nourished either by the density in the air, or from the exhalations proceeding from their own body. Though if the Deity, though needing nothing, is according to them nourished, what necessity has He for food, wanting nothing? But if, by nature needing nothing, He delights to be honoured, it is not without reason that we honour God in prayer; and thus the best and holiest sacrifice with righteousness we bring, presenting it as an offering to the most righteous Word, by whom we receive knowledge, giving glory by Him for what[3] we have learned.
The altar, then, that is with us here, the terrestrial one, is the congregation of those who devote themselves to prayers, having as it were one common voice and one mind.
Now, if nourishing substances taken in by the nostrils are diviner than those taken in by the mouth, yet they infer respiration. What, then, do they say of God? Whether does He exhale like the tribe of oaks?[4] Or does He only inhale, like the aquatic animals, by the dilatation of their gills? Or does He breathe all round, like the insects, by the compression of the section by means of their wings? But no one, if he is in his senses, will liken God to any of these.
And the creatures that breathe by the expansion of the lung towards the thorax draw in the air. Then if they assign to God viscera, and arteries, and veins, and nerves, and parts, they will make Him in nothing different from man.
Now breathing together (<greek>sumpnoia</greek>) is properly said of the Church. For the sacrifice of the Church is the word breathing as incense[6] from holy souls, the sacrifice and the whole mind being at the same time unveiled to God. Now the very ancient altar in Delos they celebrated as holy; which alone, being undefiled by slaughter and death, they say Pythagoras approached. And will they not believe us when we say that the righteous soul is the truly sacred altar, and that incense arising from it is holy prayer? But I believe sacrifices were invented by men to be a pretext for eating flesh.[7] But without such idolatry he who wished might have partaken of flesh.
For the sacrifices of the Law express figuratively the piety which we practise, as the turtle-dove and the pigeon offered for sins point out that the cleansing of the irrational part of the soul is acceptable to God. But if any one of the righteous does not burden his soul by the eating of flesh, he has the advantage of a rational reason, not as Pythagoras and his followers dream of the transmigration of the soul.
Now Xenocrates, treating by himself of "the food derived from animals," and Polemon in his work On Life according, to Nature, seem clearly to say that animal food is unwholesome, inasmuch as it has already been elaborated and assimilated to the souls of the irrational creatures.
So also, in particular, the Jews abstain from swine's flesh on the ground of this animal being unclean; since more than the other animals it roots up, and destroys the productions of the ground. But if they say that the animals were assigned to men--and we agree with them--yet it was not entirely for food. Nor was it all animals, but such as do not work. Wherefore the comic poet Plato says not badly in the drama of The Feasts:--

"For of the quadrupeds we should not slay
In future aught but swine. For these have flesh
Most toothsome; and about the pig is nought
For us, excepting bristles, mud, and noise."

Whence AEsop said not badly, that "swine squeaked out very loudly, because, when they were dragged, they knew that they were good for nothing but for sacrifice."
Wherefore also Cleanthes says, "that they have soul[1] instead of salt," that their flesh may not putrefy. Some, then, eat them as useless, others as destructive of fruits. And others do not eat them, because the animal has a strong sensual propensity.
So, then, the law sacrifices not the goat, except in the sole case of the banishment of sins;[2] since pleasure is the metropolis of vice. It is to the point also that it is said that the eating of goat's flesh contributes to epilepsy. And they say that the greatest increase is produced by swine's flesh. Wherefore it is beneficial to those who exercise the body; but to those who devote themselves to the development of the soul it is not so, on account of the hebetude that results from the eating of flesh. Perchance also some Gnostic will abstain from the eating of flesh for the sake of training, and in order that the flesh may not grow wanton in amorousness. "For wine," says Androcydes, "and gluttonous feeds of flesh make the body strong, but the soul more sluggish." Accordingly such food, in order to clear understanding, is to be rejected.
Wherefore also the Egyptians, in the purifications practised among them, do not allow the priests to feed on flesh; but they use chickens, as lightest; and they do not touch fish, on account of certain fables, but especially on account of such food making the flesh flabby. But now terrestrial animals and birds breathe the same air as our vital spirits, being possessed of a vital principle cognate with the air. But it is said that fishes do not breathe this air, but that which was mixed with the water at the instant of its first creation, as well as with the rest of the elements, which is also a sign of the permanence of matter.[3]
Wherefore we ought to offer to God sacrifices not costly, but such as He loves. And that compounded incense which is mentioned in the Law, is that which consists of many tongues and voices in prayer,[4] or rather of different nations and natures, prepared by the gift vouchsafed in the dispensation for "the unity of the faith," and brought together in praises, with a pure mind, and just and right conduct, from holy works and righteous prayer. For in the elegant language of poetry,--

"Who is so great a fool, and among men
So very easy of belief, as thinks
The gods, with fraud of fleshless bones and bile
All burnt, not fit for hungry dogs to eat,
Delighted are, and take this as their prize,
And favour show to those who treat them thus,"

though they happen to be tyrants and robbers?
But we say that the fire sanctifies s not flesh, but sinful souls; meaning not the all-devouring vulgar fire[6] but that of wisdom, which pervades the soul passing through the fire.

CHAP. VII.--WHAT SORT OF PRAYER THE GNOSTIC EMPLOYS, AND HOW IT iS HEARD BY GOD.

Now we are commanded to reverence and to honour the same one, being persuaded that He is Word, Saviour, and Leader, and by Him, the Father, not on special days, as some others, but doing this continually in our whole life, and in every way. Certainly the elect race justified by the precept says, "Seven times a day have I praised Thee."[7] Whence not in a specified place,[8] or selected temple, or at certain festivals and on appointed days, but during his whole life, the Gnostic in every place, even if he be alone by himself, and wherever he has any of those who have exercised the like faith, honours God, that is, acknowledges his gratitude for the knowledge of the way to live.
And if the presence of a good man, through the respect and reverence which he inspires, always improves him with whom he associates, with much more reason does not he who always holds uninterrupted converse with God by knowledge, life, and thanksgiving, grow at every step superior to himself in all respects--in conduct, in words, in disposition? Such an one is persuaded that God is ever beside him, and does not suppose that He is confined in certain limited places; so that under the idea that at times he is without Him, he may indulge in excesses night and day.
Holding festival, then, in our whole life, persuaded that God is altogether on every side present, we cultivate our fields, praising; we sail the sea, hymning; in all the rest of our conversation we conduct ourselves according to rule.[1] The Gnostic, then, is very closely allied to God, being at once grave and cheerful in all things,--grave on account of the bent of his soul towards the Divinity, and cheerful on account of his consideration of the blessings of humanity which God hath given us.
Now the excellence of knowledge is evidently presented by the prophet when he says, "Benignity, and instruction, and knowledge teach me,"[2] magnifying the supremacy of perfection by a climax.
He is, then, the truly kingly man; he is the sacred high priest of God. And this is even now observed among the most sagacious of the Barbarians, in advancing the sacerdotal caste to the royal power. He, therefore, never surrenders himself to the rabble that rules supreme over the theatres, and gives no admittance even in a dream to the things which are spoken, done, and seen for the sake of alluring pleasures; neither, therefore, to the pleasures of sight, nor the various pleasures which are found in other enjoyments, as costly incense and odours, which bewitch the nostrils, or preparations of meats, and indulgences in different wines, which ensnare the palate, or fragrant bouquets of many flowers, which through the senses effeminate the soul. But always tracing up to God the grave enjoyment of all things, he offers the first-fruits of food, and drink, and unguents to the Giver of all, acknowledging his thanks in the gift and in the use of them by the Word given to him. He rarely goes to convivial banquets of all and sundry, unless the announcement to him of the friendly and harmonious character of the entertainment induce him to go. For he is convinced that God knows and perceives all things--not the words only, but also the thought; since even our sense of hearing, which acts through the passages of the body, has the apprehension [be longing to it] not through corporeal power, but through a psychical perception, and the intelligence which distinguishes significant sounds. God is not, then, possessed of human form, so as to hear; nor needs He senses, as the Stoics have decided, "especially hearing and sight; for He could never otherwise apprehend." But the susceptibility of the air, and the intensely keen perception of the angels,[3] and the power which reaches the soul's consciousness, by ineffable power and without sensible hearing, know all things at the moment of thought. And should any one say that the voice does not reach God, but is rolled downwards in the air, yet the thoughts of the saints cleave not the air only, but the whole world. And the divine power, with the speed of light, sees through the whole soul. Well! Do not also volitions speak to God, uttering their voice? And are they not conveyed by conscience? And what voice shall He wait for, who, according to His purpose, knows the elect already, even before his birth, knows what is to be as already existent? Does not the light of power shine down to the very bottom of the whole soul; "the lamp of knowledge," as the Scripture says, searching "the recesses"? God is all ear and all eye, if we may be permitted to use these expressions.
In general, then, an unworthy opinion of God preserves no piety, either in hymns, or discourses, or writings, or dogmas, but diverts to grovelling and unseemly ideas and notions. Whence the commendation of the multitude differs nothing from censure, in consequence of their ignorance of the truth. The objects, then, of desires and aspirations, and, in a word, of the mind's impulses, are the subjects of prayers. Wherefore, no man desires a draught, but to drink what is drinkable; and no man desires an inheritance, but to inherit. And in like manner no man desires knowledge, but to know; or a right government, but to take part in the government. The subjects of our prayers, then, are the subjects of our requests, and the subjects of requests are the objects of desires. Prayer, then, and desire, follow in order, with the view of possessing the blessings and advantages offered.
The Gnostic, then, who is such by possession, makes his prayer and request for the truly good things which appertain to the soul, and prays, he himself also contributing his efforts to attain to the habit of goodness, so as no longer to have the things that are good as certain lessons belonging to him, but to be good.
Wherefore also it is most incumbent on such to pray, knowing as they do the Divinity rightly, and having the moral excellence suitable to him; who know what things are really good, and what are to be asked, and when and how in each individual case. It is the extremest stupidity to ask of them who are no gods, as if they were gods; or to ask those things which are not beneficial, begging evils for themselves under the appearance of good things.
Whence, as is right, there being only one good God, that some good things be given from Him alone, and that some remain, we and the angels pray. But not similarly. For it is not the same thing to pray that the gift remain, and to endeavour to obtain it for the first time.
The averting of evils is a species of prayer; but such prayer is never to be used for the injury of men, except that the Gnostic, in devoting attention to righteousness, may make use of this petition in the case of those who are past feeling.
Prayer is, then, to speak more boldly, converse with God. Though whispering, consequently, and not opening the lips, we speak in silence, yet we cry inwardly.[1] For God hears continually all the inward converse. So also we raise the head and lift the hands to heaven, and set the feet in motion[2] at the closing utterance of the prayer, following the eagerness of the spirit directed towards the intellectual essence; and endeavouring to abstract the body from the earth, along with the discourse, raising the soul aloft, winged with longing for better things, we compel it to advance to the region of holiness, magnanimously despising the chain of the flesh. For we know right well, that the Gnostic willingly passes over the whole world, as the Jews certainly did over Egypt, showing clearly, above all, that he will be as near as possible to God.
Now, if some assign definite hours for prayer--as, for example, the third, and sixth, and ninth--yet the Gnostic prays throughout his whole life, endeavouring by prayer to have fellowship with God.[3] And, briefly, having reached to this, he leaves behind him all that is of no service, as having now received the perfection of the man that acts by love. But the distribution of the hours into a threefold division, honoured with as many prayers, those are acquainted with, who know the blessed triad of the holy abodes.[4]
Having got to this point, I recollect the doctrines about there being no necessity to pray, introduced by certain of the heterodox, that is, the followers of the heresy of Prodicus. That they may not then be inflated with conceit about this godless wisdom of theirs, as if it were strange, let them learn that it was embraced before by the philosophers called Cyrenaics.[5] Nevertheless, the unholy knowledge (gnosis) of those falsely called [Gnostics] shall meet with confutation at a fitting time; so that the assault on them, by no means brief, may not, by being introduced into the commentary, break the discourse in hand, in which we are showing that the only really holy and pious man is he who is truly a Gnostic according to the rule of the Church, to whom alone the petition made in accordance with the will of God is granted,[6] on asking and on thinking. For as God can do all that He wishes, so the Gnostic receives all that he asks. For, universally, God knows those who are and those who are not worthy of good things; whence He gives to each what is suitable. Wherefore to those that are unworthy, though they ask often, He will not give; but He will give to those who are worthy.
Nor is petition superfluous, though good things are given without claim.
Now thanksgiving and request for the conversion of our neighbours is the function of the Gnostic; as also the Lord prayed, giving thanks for the accomplishment of His ministry, praying that as many as possible might attain to knowledge; that in the saved, by salvation, through knowledge, God might be glorified, and He who is alone good and alone Saviour might be acknowledged through the Son from age to age. But also faith, that one will receive, is a species of prayer gnostically laid up in store.
But if any occasion of converse with God becomes prayer, no opportunity of access to God ought to be omitted. Without doubt, the holiness of the Gnostic, in union with [God's] blessed Providence, exhibits in voluntary confession the perfect beneficence of God. For the holiness of the Gnostic, and the reciprocal benevolence of the friend of God, are a kind of corresponding movement of providence. For neither is God involuntarily good, as the fire is warming; but in Him the imparting of good things is voluntary, even if He receive the request previously. Nor shall he who is saved be saved against his will, for he is not inanimate; but he will above all voluntarily and of free choice speed to salvation. Wherefore also man received the commandments in order that he might be self-impelled, to whatever he wished of things to be chosen and to be avoided. Wherefore God does not do good by necessity, but from His free choice benefits those who spontaneously turn. For the Providence which extends to us from God is not ministerial, as that service which proceeds from inferiors to superiors. But in pity for our weakness, the continual dispensations of Providence work, as the care of shepherds towards the sheep, and of a king towards his subjects; we ourselves also conducting ourselves obediently towards our superiors, who take the management of us, as appointed, in accordance with the commission from God with which they are invested.
Consequently those who render the most free and kingly service, which is the result of a pious mind and of knowledge, are servants and attendants of the Divinity. Each place, then, and time, in which we entertain the idea of God, is in reality sacred.
When, then, the man who chooses what is right, and is at the same time of thankful heart, makes his request in prayer, he contributes to the obtaining of it, gladly taking hold in prayer of the thing desired. For when the Giver of good things perceives the susceptibility on our part, all good things follow at once the conception of them. Certainly in prayer the character is sifted, how it stands with respect to duty.
But if voice and expression are given us, for the sake of understanding, how can God not hear the soul itself, and the mind, since assuredly soul hears soul, and mind, mind? Whence God does not walt for loquacious tongues, as interpreters among men, but knows absolutely the thoughts of all; and what the voice intimates to us, that our thought, which even before the creation He knew would come into our mind, speaks to God. Prayer, then, may be uttered without the voice, by concentrating the whole spiritual nature within on expression by the mind, in un-distracted turning towards God.
And since the dawn is an image of the day of birth, and from that point the light which has shone forth at first from the darkness increases, there has also dawned on those involved in darkness a day of the knowledge of truth. In correspondence with the manner of the sun's rising, prayers are made looking towards the sunrise in the east. Whence also the most ancient temples looked towards the west, that people might be taught to turn to the east when facing the images.[1] "Let my prayer be directed before Thee as incense, the uplifting of my hands as the evening sacrifice,"[2] say the Psalms.
In the case of wicked men, therefore, prayer is most injurious, not to others alone, but to themselves also. If, then, they should ask and receive what they call pieces of good fortune, these injure them after they receive them, being ignorant how to use them. For they pray to possess what they have not, and they ask things which seem, but are not, good things.[3] But the Gnostic will ask the permanence of the things he possesses, adaptation for what is to take place, and the eternity of those things which he shall receive. And the things which are really good, the things which concern the soul, he prays that they may belong to him, and remain with him. And so he desires not anything that is absent, being content with what is present. For he is not deficient in the good things which are proper to him; being already sufficient for himself, through divine grace and knowledge. But having become sufficient in himself, he stands in no want of other things. But knowing the sovereign will, and possessing as soon as he prays, being brought into close contact with the almighty power, and earnestly desiring to be spiritual, through boundless love, he is united to the Spirit.
Thus he, being magnanimous, possessing, through knowledge, what is the most precious of all, the best of all, being quick in applying himself to contemplation, retains in his soul the permanent energy of the objects of his contemplation, that is the perspicacious keenness of knowledge. And this power he strives to his utmost to acquire, by obtaining command of all the influences which war against the mind; and by applying himself without intermission to speculation, by exercising himself in the training of abstinence from pleasures, and of fight conduct in what he does; and besides, furnished with great experience both in study and in life, he has freedom of speech, not the power of a babbling tongue, but a power which employs plain language, and which neither for favour nor fear conceals aught of the things which may be worthily said at the fitting time, in which it is highly necessary to say them. He, then, having received the things respecting God from the mystic choir of the truth itself, employs language which urges the magnitude of virtue in accordance with its worth; and shows its results with an inspired elevation of prayer, being associated gnostically, as far as possible, with intellectual and spiritual objects.
Whence he is always mild and meek, accessible, affable, long-suffering, grateful, endued with a good conscience. Such a man is rigid, not alone so as not to be corrupted, but so as not to be tempted. For he never exposes his soul to submission, or capture at the hands of Pleasure and Pain. If the Word, who is Judge, call; he, having grown inflexible, and not indulging a whir the passions, walks unswervingly where justice advises him to go; being very well persuaded that all things are managed consummately well, and that progress to what is better goes on in the case of souls that have chosen virtue, till they come to the Good itself, to the Father's vestibule, so to speak, close to the great High Priest. Such is our Gnostic, faithful, persuaded that the affairs of the universe are managed in the best way. Particularly, he is well pleased with all that happens. In accordance with reason, then, he asks for none of those things in life required for necessary use; being persuaded that God, who knows all things, supplies the good with whatever is for their benefit, even though they do not ask.
For my view is, that as all things are supplied to the man of art according to the rules of art, and to the Gentile in a Gentile way, so also to the Gnostic all things are supplied gnostically. And the man who turns from among the Gentiles will ask for faith, while he that ascends to knowledge will ask for the perfection of love. And the Gnostic, who has reached the summit, will pray that contemplation may grow and abide, as the common man will for continual good health.
Nay, he will pray that he may never fall from virtue; giving his most strenuous co-operation in order that he may become infallible. For he knows that some of the angels, through carelessness, were hurled to the earth, not having yet quite reached that state of oneness, by extricating themselves from the propensity to that of duality.
But him, who from this has trained himself to the summit of knowledge and the elevated height of the perfect man, all things relating to time and place help on, now that he has made it his choice to live infallibly, and subjects himself to training in order to the attainment of the stability of knowledge on each side. But in the case of those in whom there is still a heavy corner, leaning downwards, even that part which has been elevated by faith is dragged down. In him, then, who by gnostic training has acquired virtue which cannot be lost, habit becomes nature. And just as weight in a stone, so the knowledge of such an one is incapable of being lost. Not without, but through the exercise of will, and by the force of reason, and knowledge, and Providence, is it brought to become incapable of being lost. Through care it becomes incapable of being lost. He will employ caution so as to avoid sinning, and consideration to prevent the loss of virtue.
Now knowledge appears to produce consideration, by teaching to perceive the things that are capable of contributing to the permanence of virtue. The highest thing is, then, the knowledge of God; wherefore also by it virtue is so preserved as to be incapable of being lost. And he who knows God is holy and pious. The Gnostic has consequently been demonstrated by us to be the only pious man.
He rejoices in good things present, and is glad on account of those promised, as if they were already present. For they do not elude his notice, as if they were still absent, because he knows by anticipation what sort they are. Being then persuaded by knowledge how each future thing shall be, he possesses it. For want and defect are measured with reference to what appertains to one. If, then, he possesses wisdom, and wisdom is a divine thing, he who partakes of what has no want will himself have no want. For the imparting of wisdom does not take place by activity and receptivity moving and stopping each other, or by aught being abstracted or becoming defective. Activity is therefore shown to be undiminished in the act of communication. So, then, our Gnostic possesses all good things, as far as possible; but not likewise in number; since otherwise he would be incapable of changing his place through the due inspired stages of advancement and acts of administration.
Him God helps, by honouring him with closer oversight. For were not all things made for the sake of good men, for their possession and advantage, or rather salvation? He will not then deprive, of the things which exist for the sake of virtue, those for whose sake they were created. For, evidently in honour of their excellent nature and their holy choice, he inspires those who have made choice of a good life with strength for the rest of their salvation; exhorting some, and helping others, who of themselves have become worthy. For all good is capable of being produced in the Gnostic; if indeed it is his aim to know and do everything intelligently. And as the physician ministers health to those who co-operate with him in order to health, so also God ministers eternal salvation to those who co-operate for the attainment of knowledge and good conduct; and since what the commandments enjoin are in our own power, along with the performance of them, the promise is accomplished.
And what follows seems to me to be excellently said by the Greeks. An athlete of no mean reputation among those of old, having for a long time subjected his body to thorough training in order to the attainment of manly strength, on going up to the Olympic games, cast his eye on the statue of the Pisaean Zeus, and said: "O Zeus, if all the requisite preparations for the contest have been made by me, come, give me the victory, as is right." For so, in the case of the Gnostic, who has unblameably and with a good conscience fulfilled all that depends on him, in the direction of learning, and training, and well-doing, and pleasing God, the whole contributes to carry salvation on to perfection. From us, then, are demanded the things which are in our own power, and of the things which pertain to us, both present and absent, the choice, and desire, and possession, and use, and permanence.
Wherefore also he who holds converse with God must have his soul immaculate and stainlessly pure, it being essential to have made himself perfectly good.
But also it becomes him to make all his prayers gently with the good. For it is a dangerous thing to take part in others' sins. Accordingly the Gnostic will pray along with those who have more recently believed, for those things in respect of which it is their duty to act together. And his whole life is a holy festival.[1] His sacrifices are prayers, and praises, and readings in the Scriptures before meals, and psalms and hymns during meals and before bed, and prayers also again during night. By these he unites himself to the divine choir, from continual recollection, engaged in contemplation which has everlasting remembrance.
And what? Does he not also know the other kind of sacrifice, which consists in the giving both of doctrines and of money to those who need? Assuredly. But he does not use wordy prayer by his mouth; having learned to ask of the Lord what is requisite. In every place, therefore, but not ostensibly and visibly to the multitude, he will pray. But while engaged in walking, in conversation, while in silence, while engaged in reading and in works according to reason, he in every mood prays.[2] If he but form the thought in the secret chamber of his soul, and call on the Father "with unspoken groanings,"[3] He is near, and is at his side, while yet speaking. Inasmuch as there are but three ends of all action, he does everything for its excellence and utility ; but doing aught for the sake of pleasure,[4] he leaves to those who pursue the common life.

CHAP. VIII.--THE GNOSTIC SO ADDICTED TO TRUTH AS NOT TO NEED TO USE AN OATH.

The man of proved character in such piety is far from being apt to lie and to swear. For an oath is a decisive affirmation, with the taking of the divine name. For how can he, that is once faithful, show himself unfaithful, so as to require an oath; and so that his life may not be a sure and decisive oath? He lives, and walks, and shows the trustworthiness of his affirmation in an unwavering and sure life and speech. And if the wrong lies in the judgment of one who does and says [something], and not in the suffering of one who has been wronged,[5] he will neither lie nor commit perjury so as to wrong the Deity, knowing that it by nature is incapable of being harmed. Nor yet will he lie or commit any transgression, for the sake of the neighbour whom he has learned to love, though he be not on terms of intimacy. Much more, consequently, will he not lie or perjure himself on his own account, since he never with his will can be found doing wrong to himself.
But he does not even swear, preferring to make averment, in affirmation by "yea," and in denial by "nay." For it is an oath to swear, or to produce[6] anything from the mind in the way of confirmation in the shape of an oath. It suffices, then, with him, to add to an affirmation or denial the expression" I say truly," for confirmation to those who do not perceive the certainty of his answer. For he ought, I think, to maintain a life calculated to inspire confidence towards those without, so that an oath may not even be asked; and towards himself and those with whom he associates? good feeling, which is voluntary righteousness.
The Gnostic swears truly, but is not apt to swear, having rarely recourse to an oath, just as we have said. And his speaking truth on oath arises from his accord with the truth. This speaking truth on oath, then, is found to be the result of correctness in duties. Where, then, is the necessity for an oath to him who lives in accordance with the extreme of truth?[8] He, then, that does not even swear will be far from perjuring himself. And he who does not transgress in what is ratified by compacts, will never swear; since the ratification of the violation and of the fulfilment is by actions; as certainly lying and perjury in affirming and swearing are contrary to duty. But he who lives justly, transgressing in none of his duties, when the judgment of truth is scrutinized, swears truth by his acts. Accordingly, testimony by the tongue is in his case superfluous.
Therefore, persuaded always that God is everywhere, and fearing not to speak the truth, and knowing that it is unworthy of him to lie, he is satisfied with the divine consciousness and his own alone[9] And so he lies not, nor does aught contrary to his compacts. And so he swears not even when asked for his oath ; nor does he ever deny, so as to speak falsehood, though he should die by tortures.

CHAP. IX.--THOSE WHO TEACH OTHERS, OUGHT TO EXCEL IN VIRTUES.

The gnostic dignity is augmented and increased by him who has undertaken the first place in the teaching of others, and received the dispensation by word and deed of the greatest good on earth, by which he mediates contact and fellowship with the Divinity. And as those who worship terrestrial things pray to them as if they heard, confirming compacts before them; so, in men who are living images, the true majesty of the Word is received by the trustworthy teacher; and the beneficence exerted towards them is carried up to the Lord, after whose image he who is a true man by instruction creates and harmonizes, renewing to salvation the man who receives instruction. For as the Greeks called steel Ares, and wine Dionysus on account of a certain relation; so the Gnostic considering the benefit of his neighbours as his own salvation, may be called a living image of the Lord, not as respects the peculiarity of form, but the symbol of power and similarity of preaching.
Whatever, therefore, he has in his mind, he bears on his tongue, to those who are worthy to hear, speaking as well as living from assent and inclination. For he both thinks and speaks the truth; unless at any time, medicinally, as a physician for the safety of the sick, he may deceive or tell an untruth, according to the Sophists.[1]
To illustrate: the noble apostle circumcised Timothy, though loudly declaring and writing that circumcision made with hands profits nothing.[2] But that he might not, by dragging all at once away from the law to the circumcision of the heart through faith those of the Hebrews who were reluctant listeners, compel them to break away from the synagogue, he, "accommodating himself to the Jews, became a Jew that he might gain all."[3] He, then, who submits to accommodate himself merely for the benefit of his neighbours, for the salvation of those for whose sake he accommodates himself, not partaking in any dissimulation through the peril impending over the just from those who envy them, such an one by no means acts with compulsion.[4] But for the benefit of his neighbours alone, he will do things which would not have been done by him primarily, if he did not do them on their account. Such an one gives himself for the Church, for the disciples whom he has begotten in faith; for an example to those who are capable of receiving the supreme economy of the philanthropic and God-loving Instructor, for confirmation of the truth of his words, for the exercise of love to the Lord. Such an one is unenslaved by fear, true in word, enduring in labour, never willing to lie by uttered word, and in it always securing sinlessness; since falsehood, being spoken with a certain deceit, is not an inert word, but operates to mischief.
On every hand, then, the Gnostic alone testifies to the truth in deed and word. For he always does rightly in all things, both in word and action, and in thought itself.
Such, then, to speak cursorily, is the piety of the Christian. If, then, he does these things according to duty and right reason, he does them piously and justly. And if such be the case, the Gnostic alone is really both pious, and just, and God-fearing.
The Christian is not impious. For this was the point incumbent on us to demonstrate to the philosophers; so that he will never in any way do aught bad or base (which is unjust). Consequently, therefore, he is not impious; but he alone fears God, holily and dutifully worshipping the true God, the universal Ruler, and King, and Sovereign, with the true piety.

CHAP. X.--STEPS TO PERFECTION.

For knowledge (gnosis), to speak generally, a perfecting of man as man, is consummated by acquaintance with divine things, in character, life, and word, accordant and conformable to itself and to the divine Word. For by it faith is perfected, inasmuch as it is solely by it that the believer becomes perfect. Faith is an internal good, and without searching for God, confesses His existence, and glorifies Him as existent. Whence by starting from this faith, and being developed by it, through the grace of God, the knowledge respecting Him is to be acquired as far as possible.
Now we assert that knowledge (gnosis) differs from the wisdom (<greek>sofia</greek>), which is the result of teaching. For as far as anything is knowledge, so far is it certainly wisdom; but in as far as aught is wisdom, it is not certainly knowledge. For the term wisdom appears only in the knowledge of the uttered word.
But it is not doubting in reference to God, but believing, that is the foundation of knowledge. But Christ is both the foundation and the superstructure, by whom are both the beginning and the ends. And the extreme points, the beginning and the end--I mean faith and love--are not taught. But knowledge, conveyed from communication through the grace of God as a deposit, is entrusted to those who show themselves worthy of it; and from it the worth of love beams forth from light to light. For it is said, "To him that hath shall be given:"[1] to faith, knowledge; and to knowledge, love; and to love, the inheritance.
And this takes place, whenever one hangs on the Lord by faith, by knowledge, by love, and ascends along with Him to where the God and guard of our faith and love is. Whence at last (on account of the necessity for very great preparation and previous training in order both to hear what is said, and for the composure of life, and for advancing intelligently to a point beyond the righteousness of the law) it is that knowledge is committed to those fit and selected for it. It leads us to the endless and perfect end, teaching us beforehand the future life that we shall lead, according to God, and with gods; after we are freed from all punishment and penalty which we undergo, in consequence of our sins, for salutary discipline. After which redemption the reward and the honours are assigned to those who have become perfect; when they have got done with purification, and ceased from all service, though it be holy service, and among saints. Then become pure in heart, and near to the Lord, there awaits them restoration to everlasting contemplation; and they are called by the appellation of gods, being destined to sit on thrones with the other gods that have been first put in their places by the Saviour.
Knowledge is therefore quick in purifying, and fit for that acceptable transformation to the better. Whence also with ease it removes [the soul] to what is akin to the soul, divine and holy, and by its own light conveys man through the mystic stages of advancement; till it restores the pure in heart to the crowning place of rest; teaching to gaze on God, face to face, with knowledge and comprehension. For in this consists the perfection of the gnostic soul, in its being with the Lord, where it is in immediate subjection to Him, after rising above all purification and service.
Faith is then, so to speak, a comprehensive knowledge of the essentials;[2] and knowledge is the strong and sure demonstration of what is received by faith, built upon faith by the Lord's teaching, conveying [the soul] on to infallibility, science, and comprehension. And, in my view, the first saving change is that from heathenism to faith, as I said before; and the second, that from faith to knowledge. And the latter terminating in love, thereafter gives the loving to the loved, that which knows to that which is known. And, perchance, such an one has already attained the condition of "being equal to the angels."[3] Accordingly, after the highest excellence in the flesh, changing always duly to the better, he urges his flight to the ancestral hall, through the holy septenniad [of heavenly abodes] to the Lord's own mansion; to be a light, steady, and continuing eternally, entirely and in every part immutable.
The first mode of the Lord's operation mentioned by us is an exhibition of the recompense resulting from piety. Of the very great number of testimonies that there are, I shall adduce one, thus summarily expressed by the prophet David: "Who shall ascend to the hill of the Lord, or who shall stand in His holy place? He who is guiltless in his hands, and pure in his heart; who hath not lifted up his soul to vanity, or sworn deceitfully to his neighbour. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and mercy from God his Saviour. This is the generation of them that seek the Lord, that seek the face of the God of Jacob."[4] The prophet has, in my opinion, concisely indicated the Gnostic. David, as appears, has cursorily demonstrated the Saviour to be God, by calling Him "the face of the God of Jacob," who preached and aught concerning the Spirit. Wherefore also the apostle designates as "the express image (<greek>karakthra</greek>) of the glory of the Father "[5] the Son, who taught the truth respecting God, and expressed the fact that the Almighty is the one and only God and Father, "whom no man knoweth but the Son, and he to whom the Son shall reveal Him."[6] That God is one is intimated by those "who seek the face of the God of Jacob;" whom being the only God, our Saviour and God characterizes as the Good Father. And "the generation of those that seek Him" is the elect race, devoted to inquiry after knowledge. Wherefore also the apostle says, "I shall profit you nothing, unless I speak to you, either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophecy, or by doctrine."[7]
Although even by those who are not Gnostics some things are done rightly, yet not according to reason; as in the case of fortitude. For some who are naturally high-spirited, and have afterwards without reason fostered this disposition, rush to many things, and act like brave men, so as sometimes to succeed in achieving the same things; just as endurance is easy for mechanics. But it is not from the same cause, or with the same object; not were they to give their whole body. "For they have not love," according to the apostle.[8]
All the action, then, of a man possessed of knowledge is right action; and that done by a man not possessed of knowledge is: wrong action, though he observe a plan; since it is not from reflection that he acts bravely, nor does he direct his action in those things which proceed from virtue to virtue, to any useful purpose.
The same holds also with the other virtues. So too the analogy is preserved in religion. Our Gnostic, then, not only is such in reference to holiness; but corresponding to the piety of knowledge are the commands respecting the rest of the conduct of life. For it is our purpose at present to describe the life of the Gnostic,[1] not to present the system of dogmas, which we shall afterwards explain at the fitting time, preserving the order of topics.

 

 
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