دراسات أبائية

     
   
 

Patrology
علم الباترولوجي
"كتابات الآباء "

THE STROMATA, OR MISCELLANIES: REST OF BOOK VII

 

CHAP. XI.--DESCRIPTION OF THE GNOSTIC'S LIFE.

Respecting the universe, he conceives truly and grandly in virtue of his reception of divine teaching. Beginning, then, with admiration of the Creation, and affording of himself a proof of his capability for receiving knowledge, he becomes a ready pupil of the Lord. Directly on hearing of God and Providence, he believed in consequence of ethe admiration he entertained. Through the power of impulse thence derived he devotes his energies in every way to learning, doing all those things by means of which he shall be able to acquire the knowledge of what he desires. And desire blended with inquiry arises as faith advances. And this is to become worthy of speculation, of such a character, and such importance. So shall the Gnostic taste of the will of God. For it is not his ears, but his soul, that he yields up to the things signified by what is spoken. Accordingly, apprehending essences and things through the words, he brings his soul, as is fit, to what is essential; apprehending (e.g.) in the peculiar way in which they are spoken to the Gnostic, the commands, "Do not commit adultery, "Do not kill;" and not as they are understood by other people.[2] Training himself, then, in scientific speculation, he proceeds to exercise himself in larger generalizations and grander propositions; knowing right well that "He that teacheth man knowledge," according to the prophet, is the Lord, the Lord acting by man's mouth. So also He assumed flesh.
As is right, then, he never prefers the pleasant to the useful; not even if a beautiful woman were to entice him, when overtaken by circumstances, by wantonly urging him: since Joseph's master's wife was not able to seduce him from his stedfastness; but as she violently held his coat, divested himself of it,--becoming bare of sin, but clothed with seemliness of character. For if the eyes of the master--the Egyptian, I mean--saw not Joseph, yet those of the Almighty looked on. For we hear the voice, and see the bodily forms ; but God scrutinizes the thing itself, from which the speaking and the looking proceed.
Consequently, therefore, though disease, and accident, and what is most terrible of all, death, come upon the Gnostic, he remains inflexible in soul,--knowing that all such things are a necessity of creation, and that, also by the power of God, they become the medicine of salvation, benefiting by discipline those who are difficult to reform; allotted according to desert, by Providence, which is truly good.
Using the creatures, then, when the Word prescribes, and to the extent it prescribes, in the exercise of thankfulness to the Creator, he becomes master of the enjoyment of them.
He never cherishes resentment or harbours a grudge against any one, though deserving of hatred for his conduct. For he worships the Maker, and loves him, who shares life, pitying and praying for him on account of his ignorance. He indeed partakes of the affections of the body, to which, susceptible as it is of suffering by nature, he is bound. But in sensation he is not the primary subject of it.
Accordingly, then, in involuntary circumstances, by withdrawing himself from troubles to the things which really belong to him, he is not carried away with what is foreign to him. And it is only to things that are necessary for him that he accommodates himself, in so far as the soul is preserved unharmed. For it is not m supposition or seeming that he wishes to be faithful; but in knowledge and truth, that is, in sure deed and effectual word.[3] Wherefore he not only praises what is noble, but endeavours himself to be noble; changing by love from a good and faithful servant into a friend, through the perfection of habit, which he has acquired in purity from true instruction and great discipline.
Striving, then, to attain to the summit of knowledge (gnosis); decorous in character; composed in mien; possessing all those advantages which belong to the true Gnostic fixing his eye on fair models, on the many patriarchs who have lived rightly, and on very many prophets and angels reckoned without number, and above all, on the Lord, who taught and showed it to be possible for him to attain that highest life of all,--he therefore loves not all the good things of the world, which are within his grasp, that he may not remain on the ground, but the things hoped for, or rather already known, being hoped for so as to be apprehended.
So then he undergoes toils, and trials, and affections, not as those among the philosophers who are endowed with manliness, in the hope of present troubles ceasing, and of sharing again in what is pleasant; but knowledge has inspired him with the firmest persuasion of receiving the hopes of the future. Wherefore he contemns not alone the pains of this world, but all its pleasures.
They say, accordingly, that the blessed Peter, on seeing his wife led to death, rejoiced on account of her call and conveyance home, and called very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, "Remember thou the Lord." Such was the marriage of the blessed and their perfect disposition towards those dearest to them.[1]
Thus also the apostle says, "that he who marries should be as though he married not,"[2] and deem his marriage free of inordinate affection, and inseparable from love to the Lord; to which the true husband exhorted his wife to cling on her departure out of this life to the Lord.
Was not then faith in the hope after death conspicuous in the case of those who gave thanks to God even in the very extremities of their punishments? For firm, in my opinion, was the faith they possessed, which was followed by works of faith.
In all circumstances, then, is the soul of the Gnostic strong, in a condition of extreme health and strength, like the body of an athlete.
For he is prudent in human affairs, in judging what ought to be done by the just man; having obtained the principles from God from above, and having acquired, in order to the divine resemblance, moderation in bodily pains and pleasures. And he struggles against fears boldly, trusting in God. Certainly, then, the gnostic soul, adorned with perfect virtue, is the earthly image of the divine power; its development being the joint result of nature, of training, of reason, all together. This beauty of the soul becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit, when it acquires a disposition in the whole of life corresponding to the Gospel. Such an one consequently withstands all fear of everything terrible, not only of death, but also poverty and disease, and ignominy, and things akin to these; being unconquered by pleasure, and lord over irrational desires. For he well knows what is and what! is not to be done; being perfectly aware what things are really to be dreaded, and what not. Whence he bears intelligently what the Word intimates to him to be requisite and necessary; intelligently discriminating what is really safe (that is, good), from what appears so; and things to be dreaded from what seems so, such as death, disease, and poverty; which are rather so in opinion than in truth.
This is the really good man, who is without passions; having, through the habit or disposition of the soul endued with virtue, transcended the whole life of passion. He has everything dependent on himself for the attainment of the end. For those accidents which are called terrible are not formidable to the good man, because they are not evil. And those which are really to be dreaded are foreign to the gnostic Christian, being diametrically opposed to what is good, because evil; and it is impossible for contraries to meet in the same person at the same time. He, then, who faultlessly acts the drama of life which God has given him to play, knows both what is to be done and what is to be endured.
Is it not then from ignorance of what is and what is not to be dreaded that cowardice arises? Consequently the only man of courage is the Gnostic, who knows both present and future good things; along with these, knowing, as I have said, also the things which are in reality not to be dreaded. Because, knowing vice alone to be hateful, and destructive of what contributes to knowledge, protected by the armour of the Lord, he makes war against it.
For if anything is caused through folly, and the operation or rather co-operation of the devil, this thing is not straightway the devil or folly. For no action is wisdom. For wisdom is a habit. And no action is a habit. The action, then, that arises from ignorance, is not already ignorance, but an evil through ignorance, but not ignorance. For neither perturbations of mind nor sins are vices, though proceeding from vice.
No one, then, who is irrationally brave is a Gnostic ;[3] since one might call children brave, who, through ignorance of what is to be dreaded, undergo things that are frightful. So they touch fire even. And the wild beasts that rush close on the points of spears, having a brute courage, might be called valiant. And such people might perhaps call jugglers valiant, who tumble on swords with a certain dexterity, practising a mischievous art for sorry gain. But he who is truly brave, with the peril arising from the bad feeling of the multitude before his eyes, courageously awaits whatever comes. In this way he is distinguished from others that are called martyrs, inasmuch as some furnish occasions for themselves, and rush into the heart of dangers, I know not how (for it is right to use mild language); while they, in accordance with right reason, protect themselves; then, on God really calling them, promptly surrender themselves, and confirm the call, from being conscious of no precipitancy, and present the man to be proved in the exercise of true rational fortitude. Neither, then, enduring lesser dangers from fear of greater, like other people, nor dreading censure at the hands of their equals, and those of like sentiments, do they continue in the confession of their calling; but from love to God they willingly obey the call, with no other aim in view than pleasing God, and not for the sake of the reward of their toils.
For some suffer from love of glory, and others from fear of some other sharper punishment, and others for the sake of pleasures and delights after death, being children in faith; blessed indeed, but not yet become men in love to God, as the Gnostic is. For there are, as in the gymnastic contests, so also in the Church, crowns for men and for children. But love is to be chosen for itself, and for nothing else. Therefore in the Gnostic, along with knowledge, the perfection of fortitude is developed from the discipline of life, he having always studied to acquire mastery over the passions.
Accordingly, love makes its own athlete fearless and dauntless, and confident in the Lord, anointing and training him; as righteousness secures for him truthfulness in his whole life.[1] For it was a compendium of righteousness to say, "Let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay."[2]
And the same holds with self-control. For it is neither for love of honour, as the athletes for the sake of crowns and fame; nor on the other hand, for love of money, as some pretend to exercise self-control, pursuing what is good with terrible suffering. Nor is it from love of the body for the sake of health. Nor any more is any man who is temperate from rusticity, who has not tasted pleasures, truly a man of self-con-trol. Certainly those who have led a laborious life, on tasting pleasures, forthwith break down the inflexibility of temperance into pleasures. Such are they who are restrained by law and fear. For on finding a favourable opportunity they defraud the law, by giving what is good the slip. But self-control, desirable for its own sake, perfected through knowledge, abiding ever, makes the man lord and master of himself; so that the Gnostic is temperate and passionless, incapable of being dissolved by pleasures and pains, as they say adamant is by fire.
The cause of these, then, is love, of all science the most sacred and most sovereign.
For by the service of what is best and most exalted, which is characterized by unity, it renders the Gnostic at once friend and son, having in truth grown "a perfect man, up to the measure of full stature."[3]
Further, agreement in the same thing is consent. But what is the same is one. And friendship is consummated in likeness; the community lying in oneness. The Gnostic, consequently, in virtue of being a lover of the one true God, is the really perfect man and friend of God, and is placed in the rank of son. For these are names of nobility and knowledge, and perfection in the contemplation of God; which crowning step of advancement the gnostic soul receives, when it has become quite pure, reckoned worthy to behold everlastingly God Almighty, "face," it is said, "to face." For having become wholly spiritual, and having in the spiritual Church gone to what is of kindred nature, it abides in the rest of God.

CHAP. XII.--THE TRUE GNOSTIC IS BENEFICENT, CONTINENT, AND DESPISES WORLDLY THINGS.

Let these things, then, be so. And such being the attitude of the Gnostic towards the body and the soul--towards his neighbours, whether it be a domestic, or a lawful enemy, or whosoever--he is found equal and like. For he does not "despise his brother," who, according to the divine law, is of the same father and mother. Certainly he relieves the afflicted, helping him with consolations, encouragements, and the necessaries of life; giving to all that need, though not similarly, but justly, according to desert; furthermore, to him who persecutes and hates, even if he need it; caring little for those who say to him that be has given out of fear, if it is not out of fear that he does so, but to give help. For how much more are those, who towards their enemies are devoid of love of money, and are haters of evil, animated with love to those who belong to them?
Such an one from this proceeds to the accurate knowledge of whom he ought chiefly to give to, and how much, and when, and how.
And who could with any reason become the enemy of a man who gives no cause for enmity in any way? And is it not just as in the case of God? We say that God is the adversary of no one, and the enemy of no one (for He is the Creator of all, and nothing that exists. is what He wills it not to be; but we assert that the disobedient, and those who walk not according to His commandments, are enemies to Him, as being those who are hostile to His covenant). We shall find the very same to be the case with the Gnostic, for he can never in any way become an enemy to any one; but those may be regarded enemies to him who turn to the contrary path.
In particular, the habit of liberality[1] which prevails among us is called "righteousness;" but the power of discriminating according to desert, as to greater and less, with reference to those who am proper subjects of it, is a form of the very highest righteousness.
There are things practised in a vulgar style by some people, such as control over pleasures. For as, among the heathen, there are those who, from the impossibility of obtaining what one sees,[2] and from fear of men, and also for the sake of greater pleasures, abstain from the delights that are before them; so also, in the case of faith, some practise self-restraint, either out of regard to the promise or from fear of God. Well, such self-restraint is the basis of knowledge, and an approach to something better, and an effort after perfection. For "the fear of the Lord," it is said, "is the beginning of wisdom."[3] But the perfect man, out of love, "beareth all things, endureth all things,"[4] "as not pleasing man, but God."[5] Although praise follows him as a consequence, it is not for his own advantage, but for the imitation and benefit of those who praise him.
According to another view, it is not he who merely controls his passions that is called a continent man, but he who has also achieved the mastery over good things, and has acquired surely the great accomplishments of science, from which he produces as fruits the activities of virtue. Thus the Gnostic is never, on the occurrence of an emergency, dislodged from the habit peculiar to him. For the scientific possession of what is good is firm and unchangeable, being the knowledge of things divine and human. Knowledge, then, never becomes ignorance nor does good change into evil. Wherefore also he eats, and drinks, and marries, not as principal ends of existence, but as necessary. I name marriage even, if the Word prescribe, and as is suitable. For having become perfect, he[6] has the apostles for examples; and one is not really shown to be a man in the choice of single life; but he surpasses men, who, disciplined by marriage, procreation of children, and care for the house, without pleasure or pain, in his solicitude for the house has been inseparable from God's love, and withstood all temptation arising through children, and wife, and domestics, and possessions. But he that has no family is in a great degree free of temptation. Caring, then, for himself alone, he is surpassed by him who is inferior, as far as his own personal salvation is concerned, but who is superior in the conduct of life, preserving certainly, in his care for the truth, a minute image.
But we must as much as possible subject the soul to varied preparatory exercise, that it may become susceptible to the reception of knowledge. Do you not see how wax is softened and copper purified, in order to receive the stamp applied to it? Just as death is the separation of the soul from the body, so is knowledge as it were the rational death urging the spirit away, and separating it from the passions, and leading it on to the life of well-doing, that it may then say with confidence to God, "I live as Thou wishest." For he who makes it his purpose to please men cannot please God, since the multitude choose not what is profitable, but what is pleasant. But in pleasing God, one as a consequence gets the favour of the good among men. How, then, can what relates to meat, and drink, and amorous pleasure, be agreeable to such an one? since he views with suspicion even a word that produces pleasure, and a pleasant movement and act of the mind. "For no one can serve two masters, God and Mammon,"[7] it is said; meaning not simply money, but the resources arising from money bestowed on various pleasures. In reality, it is not possible for him who magnanimously and truly knows God, to serve antagonistic pleasures.
There is one alone, then, who from the beginning was free of concupiscence--the philanthropic Lord, who for us became man. And whosoever endeavour to be assimilated to the impress given by Him, strive, from exercise, to become free of concupiscence. For he who has exercised concupiscence and then restrained himself, is like a widow who becomes again a virgin by continence. Such is the reward of knowledge, rendered to the Saviour and Teacher, which He Himself asked for,--abstinence from what is evil, activity in doing good, by which salvation is acquired.
As, then, those who have learned the arts procure their living by what they have been taught, so also is the Gnostic saved, procuring life by what he knows. For he who has not formed the wish to extirpate the passion of the soul, kills himself. But, as seems, ignorance is the starvation of the soul, and knowledge its sustenance.
Such are the gnostic souls, which the Gospel likened to the consecrated virgins who wait for the Lord. For they are virgins, in respect of their abstaining from what is evil. And in respect of their waiting out of love for the Lord and kindling their light for the contemplation of things, they are wise souls, saying, "Lord, for long we have desired to receive Thee; we have lived according to what Thou hast enjoined, transgressing none of Thy commandments. Wherefore also we claim the promises. And we pray for what is beneficial, since it is not requisite to ask of Thee what is most excellent. And we shall take everything for good; even though the exercises that meet us, which Thine arrangement brings to us for the discipline of our stedfastness, appear to be evil."
The Gnostic, then, from his exceeding holiness, is better prepared to fail when he asks, than to get when he does not ask.
His whole life is prayer and converse with God.[1] And if he be pure from sins, he will by all means obtain what he wishes. For God says to the righteous man, "Ask, and I will give thee; think, and I will do." If beneficial, he will receive it at once; and if injurious, he will never ask it, and therefore he will not receive it. So it shall be as he wishes.
But if one say to us, that some sinners even obtain according to their requests, [we should say] that this rarely takes place, by reason of the righteous goodness of God. And it is granted to those who are capable of doing others good. Whence the gift is not made for the sake of him that asked it; but the divine dispensation, foreseeing that one would be saved by his means, renders the boon again righteous. And to those who are worthy, things which are really good are given, even without their asking.
Whenever, then, one is righteous, not from necessity or out of fear or hope, but from free choice, this is called the royal road, which the royal race travel. But the byways are slippery and precipitous. If, then, one take away fear and honour, I do not know if the illustrious among the philosophers, who use such freedom of speech, will any longer endure afflictions.
Now lusts and other sins are called "briars and thorns." Accordingly the Gnostic labours in the Lord's vineyard, planting, pruning, watering; being the divine husbandman of what is planted in faith. Those, then, who have not done evil, think it right to receive the wages of ease. But he who has done good out of free choice, demands the recompense as a good workman. He certainly shall receive double wages--both for what he has not done, and for what good he has done.
Such a Gnostic is tempted by no one except with God's permission, and that for the benefit of those who are with him; and he strengthens them for faith, encouraging them by manly endurance. And assuredly it was for this end, for the establishment and confirmation of the Churches, that the blessed apostles were brought into trial and to martyrdom.
The Gnostic, then, hearing a voice ringing in his ear, which says, "Whom I shall strike, do thou pity," beseeches that those who hate him may repent. For the punishment of malefactors, to be consummated in the highways, is for children to behold;[2] for there is no possibility of the Gnostic, who has from choice trained himself to be excellent and good, ever being instructed or delighted with such spectacles.[3] And so, having become incapable of being softened by pleasures, and never failing into sins, he is not corrected by the examples of other men's sufferings. And far from being pleased with earthly pleasures and spectacles is he who has shown a noble contempt for the prospects held out in this world, although they are divine.
"Not every one," therefore, "that says Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of God; but he that doeth the will of God."[4] Such is the gnostic labourer, who has the mastery of worldly desires even while still in the flesh; and who, in regard to things future and still invisible, which he knows, has a sure persuasion, so that he regards them as more present than the things within reach. This able workman rejoices in what he knows, but is cramped on account of his being involved in the necessities of life; not yet deemed worthy of the active participation in what he knows. So he uses this life as if it belonged to another,--so far, that is, as is necessary.
He knows also the enigmas of the fasting of those days[5]--I mean the Fourth and the Preparation. For the one has its name from Hermes, and the other from Aphrodite. He fasts in his life, in respect of covetousness and voluptuousness, from which all the vices grow. For we have already often above shown the three varieties of fornication, according to the apostle--love of pleasure, love of money, idolatry. He fasts, then, according to the Law, abstaining from bad deeds, and, according to the perfection of the Gospel, from evil thoughts. Temptations are applied to him, not for his purification, but, as we have said, for the good of his neighbours, if, making trial of toils and pains, he has despised and passed them by.
The same holds of pleasure. For it is the highest achievement for one who has had trial of it, afterwards to abstain. For what great thing is it, if a man restrains himself in what he knows not? He, in fulfilment of the precept, according to the Gospel, keeps the Lord's day,[1] when he abandons an evil disposition, and assumes that of the Gnostic, glorifying the Lord's resurrection in himself. Further, also, when he has received the comprehension of scientific speculation, he deems that he sees the Lord, directing his eyes towards things invisible, although he seems to look on what he, does not wish to look on; chastising the faculty of vision, when he perceives himself pleasurably affected by the application of his eyes; since he wishes to see and hear that alone which concerns him.
In the act of contemplating the souls of the brethren, he beholds the beauty of the flesh also, with the soul itself, which has become habituated to look solely upon that which is good, without carnal pleasure. And they are really brethren; inasmuch as, by reason of their elect creation, and their oneness of character, and the nature of their deeds, they do, and think, and speak the same holy and good works, in accordance with the sentiments with which the Lord wished them as elect to be inspired.
For faith shows itself in their making choice of the same things; and knowledge, in learning and thinking the same things; and hope, in desiring[2] the same things.
And if, through the necessity of life, he spend a small portion of time about his sustenance, he thinks himself defrauded, being diverted by business.[3] Thus not even in dreams does he look on aught that is unsuitable to an elect man. For thoroughly[4] a stranger and sojourner in the whole of life is every such one, who, inhabiting the city, despises the things in the city which are admired by others, and lives in the city as in a desert, so that the place may not compel him, but his mode of life show him to be just.
This Gnostic, to speak compendiously, makes up for the absence of the apostles, by the rectitude of his life, the accuracy of his knowledge, by benefiting his relations, by "removing the mountains" of his neighbours, and putting away the irregularities of their soul. Although each of us is his[5] own vineyard and labourer.
He, too, while doing the most excellent things, wishes to elude the notice of men, persuading the Lord along with himself that he is living in accordance with the[6] commandments, preferring these things from believing them to exist. "For where any one's mind is, there also is his treasure."[7]
He impoverishes himself, in order that he may never overlook a brother who has been brought into affliction, through the perfection that is in love, especially if he know that he will bear want himself easier than his brother. He considers, accordingly, the other's pain his own grief; and if, by contributing from his own indigence in order to do good, he suffer any hardship, he does not fret at this, but augments his beneficence still more. For he possesses in its sincerity the faith which is exercised in reference to the affairs of life, and praises the Gospel in practice and contemplation. And, in truth, he wins his praise "not from men, but from God,"[8] by the performance of what the Lord has taught.
He, attracted by his own hope, tastes not the good things that are in the world, entertaining a noble contempt for all things here; pitying those that are chastised after death, who through punishment unwillingly make confession; having a clear conscience with reference to his departure, and being always ready, as "a stranger and pilgrim," with regard to the inheritances here; mindful only of those that are his own, and regarding all things here as not his own; not only admiring the Lord's commandments, but, so to speak, being by knowledge itself partaker of the divine will; a truly chosen intimate of the Lord and His commands in virtue of being righteous; and princely and kingly as being a Gnostic; despising all the gold on earth and under the earth, and dominion from shore to shore of ocean, so that he may cling to the sole service of the Lord. Wherefore also, in eating, and drinking, and marrying (if the Word enjoin), and even in seeing dreams,[9] he does and thinks what is holy.
So is he always pure for prayer. He also prays in the society of angels, as being already of angelic rank, and he is never out of their holy keeping; and though he pray alone, he has the choir of the saints[10] standing with him.
He recognises a twofold [element in faith], both the activity of him who believes, and the excellence of that which is believed according to its worth; since also righteousness is twofold, that which is out of love, and that from fear. Accordingly it is said, "The fear of the Lord is pure, remaining for ever and ever."[1] For those that from fear turn to faith and righteousness, remain for ever. Now fear works abstinence from what is evil; but love exhorts to the doing of good, by building up to the point of spontaneousness; that one may hear from the Lord, "I call you no longer servants, but friends," and may now with confidence apply himself to prayer.
And the form of his prayer is thanksgiving for the past, for the present, and for the future as already through faith present. This is preceded by the reception of knowledge. And he asks to live the allotted life in the flesh as a Gnostic, as free from the flesh, and to attain to the best things, and flee from the worse. He asks, too, relief in those things in which we have sinned, and conversion to the acknowledgment of them.[2]
He follows, on his departure, Him who calls, as quickly, so to speak, as He who goes before calls, hasting by reason of a good conscience to give thanks; and having got there with Christ shows himself worthy, through his purity, to possess, by a process of blending, the power of God communicated by Christ. For he does not wish to be warm by participation in heat, or luminous by participation in flame, but to be wholly light.
He knows accurately the declaration, "Unless ye hate father and mother, and besides your own life, and unless ye bear the sign [of the cross] ."[3] For he hates the inordinate affection: of the flesh, which possess the powerful spell of pleasure; and entertains a noble contempt for all that belongs to the creation and nutriment of the flesh. He also withstands the corporeal[4] soul, putting a bridle-bit on the restive irrational spirit: "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit."[5] And "to bear the sign of [the cross]" is to bear about death, by taking farewell of all things while still alive; since there is not equal love in "having sown the flesh,"[6] and in having formed the soul for knowledge.
He having acquired the habit of doing good, exercises beneficence well, quicker than speaking; praying that he may get a share in the sins of his brethren, in order to confession and conversion on the part of his kindred; and eager to give a share to those dearest to him of his own good things. And so these are to him, friends. Promoting, then, the growth of the seeds deposited in him, according to the husbandry enjoined by the Lord, he continues free of sin, and becomes continent, and lives in spirit with those who are like him, among the choirs of the saints, though still detained on earth.
He, all day and night, speaking and doing the Lord's commands, rejoices exceedingly, not only on rising in the morning and at noon, but also when walking about, when asleep, when dressing and undressing;[7] and he teaches his son, if he has a son. He is inseparable from the commandment and from hope, and is ever giving thanks to God, like the living creatures figuratively spoken of by Esaias, and submissive in every trial, he says, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away."[8] For such also was Job; who after the spoiling of his effects, along with the health of his body, resigned all through love to the Lord. For "he was," it is said, "just, holy, and kept apart from all wickedness."[9] Now the word "holy" points out all duties toward God, and the entire course of life. Knowing which, he was a Gnostic. For we must neither cling too much to such things, even if they are good, seeing they are human, nor on the other hand detest them, if they are bad; but we must be above both [good and bad], trampling the latter under foot, and passing on the former to those who need them. But the Gnostic is cautious in accommodation, lest he be not perceived, or lest the accommodation become disposition.

CHAP. XIII.--DESCRIPTION OF THE GNOSTIC CONTINUED.

He never remembers those who have sinned against him, but forgives them. Wherefore also he righteously prays, saying, "Forgive us; for we also forgive."[10] For this also is one of the things which God wishes, to covet nothing, to hate no one. For all men are the work of one will. And is it not the Saviour, who wishes the Gnostic to be perfect as" the heavenly Father,"[11] that is, Himself, who says, "Come, ye children, hear from me the fear of the Lord?"[12] He wishes him no longer to stand in need of help by angels, but to receive it from Himself, having become worthy, and to have protection from Himself by obedience.
Such an one demands from the Lord, and does not merely ask. And in the case of his brethren in want, the Gnostic will not ask himself for abundance of wealth to bestow, but will pray that the supply of what they need may be furnished to them. For so the Gnostic gives his prayer to those who are in need, and by his prayer they are supplied, without his knowledge, and without vanity.
Penury and disease, and such trials, are often sent for admonition, for the correction of the past, and for care for the future. Such an one prays for relief from them, in virtue of possessing the prerogative of knowledge, not out of vainglory; but from the very fact of his being a Gnostic, he works beneficence, having become the instrument of the goodness of God.
They say in the traditions[1] that Matthew the apostle constantly said, that "if the neighbour of an elect man sin, the elect man has sinned. For had he conducted himself as the Word prescribes, his neighbour also would have been filled with such reverence for the life he led as not to sin."
What, then, shall we say of the Gnostic himself? "Know ye not," says the apostle, "that ye are the temple of God?"[2] The Gnostic is consequently divine, and already holy, God-bearing, and God-borne. Now the Scripture, showing that sinning is foreign to him, sells those who have fallen away to strangers, saying, "Look not on a strange woman, to lust,"[3] plainly pronounces sin foreign and contrary to the nature of the temple of God. Now the temple is great, as the Church, and it is small, as the man who preserves the seed of Abraham. He, therefore, who has God resting in him will not desire aught else. At once leaving all hindrances, and despising all matter which distracts him, he cleaves the heaven by knowledge. And passing through the spiritual Essences, and all rule and authority, he touches the highest thrones, hasting to that alone for the sake of which alone he knew.
Mixing, then, "the serpent with the dove,"[4] he lives at once perfectly and with a good conscience, mingling faith with hope, in order to the expectation of the future. For he is conscious of the boon he has received, having become worthy of obtaining it; and is translated from slavery to adoption, as the consequence of knowledge; knowing God, or rather known of Him, for the end, he puts forth energies corresponding to the worth of grace. For works follow knowledge, as the shadow the body.
Rightly, then, he is not disturbed by anything which happens; nor does he suspect those things, which, through divine arrangement, take place for good. Nor is he ashamed to die, having a good conscience, and being fit to be seen by the Powers. Cleansed, so to speak, from all the stains of the soul, he knows right well that it will be better with him after his departure.
Whence he never prefers pleasure and profit to the divine arrangement, since he trains himself by the commands, that in all things he may be well pleasing to the Lord, and praiseworthy in the sight of the world, since all things depend on the one Sovereign God. The Son of God, it is said, came to His own, and His own received Him not. Wherefore also in the use of the things of the world he not only gives thanks and praises the creation, but also, while using them as is right, is praised; since the end he has in view terminates in contemplation by gnostic activity in accordance with the commandments.
Thence now, by knowledge collecting materials to be the food of contemplation, having embraced nobly the magnitude of knowledge, he advances to the holy recompense of translation hence. For he has heard the Psalm which says: "Encircle Zion, and encompass it, tell upon its towers."[5] For it intimates, I think, those who have sublimely embraced the Word, so as to become lofty towers, and to stand firmly in faith and knowledge.
Let these statements concerning the Gnostic, containing the germs of the matter in as brief terms as possible, be made to the Greeks. But let it be known that if the [mere] believer do rightly one or a second of these things, yet he will not do so in all nor with the highest knowledge, like the Gnostic.

CHAP. XIV.--DESCRIPTION OF THE GNOSTIC FURNISHED BY AN EXPOSITION OF 1 COR. VI. 1, ETC.

Now, of what I may call the passionlessness which we attribute to the Gnostic (in which the perfection of the believer, "advancing by love, comes to a perfect man, to the measure of full stature,"[6] by being assimilated to God, and by becoming truly angelic), many other testimonies from the Scripture, occur to me to adduce. But I think it better, on account of the length of the discourse, that such an honour should be devolved on those who wish to take pains, and leave it to them to elaborate the dogmas by the selection of Scriptures.
One passage, accordingly, I shall in the briefest terms advert to, so as not to leave the topic unexplained.
For in the first Epistle to the Corinthians the divine apostle says: "Dare any of you, having a matter against the other, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?"[7] and so on.
The section being very long, we shall exhibit the meaning of the apostle's utterance by employing such of the apostolic expressions as are most pertinent, and in the briefest language, and in a sort of cursory way, interpreting the discourse in which he describes the perfection of the Gnostic. For he does not merely instance the Gnostic as characterized by suffering wrong rather than do wrong; but he teaches that he is not mindful of injuries, and does not allow him even to pray against the man who has done him wrong. For he knows that the Lord expressly enjoined "to pray for enemies."[1]
To say, then, that the man who has been injured goes to law before the unrighteous, is nothing else than to say that he shows a wish to retaliate, and a desire to injure the second in return, which is also to do wrong likewise himself.
And his saying, that he wishes "some to go to law before the saints," points out those who ask by prayer that those who have done wrong should suffer retaliation for their injustice, and intimates that the second are better than the former; but they are not yet obedient,[2] if they do not, having become entirely free of resentment, pray even for their enemies.
It is well, then, for them to receive right dispositions from repentance, which results in faith. For if the truth seems to get enemies who entertain bad feeling, yet it is not hostile to any one. "For God makes His sun to shine on the just and on the unjust,"[3] and sent the Lord Himself to the just and the unjust. And he that earnestly strives to be assimilated to God, in the exercise Of great absence of resentment, forgives seventy times seven times, as it were all his life through, and in all his course in this world (that being indicated by the enumeration of sevens) shows clemency to each and any one; if any during the whole time of his life in the flesh do the Gnostic wrong. For he not only deems it right that the good man should resign his property alone to others, being of the number of those who have done him wrong; but also wishes that the righteous man should ask of those judges forgiveness for the offences of those who have done him wrong. And with reason, if indeed it is only in that which is external and concerns the body, though it go to the extent of death even, that those who attempt to wrong him take advantage of him; none of which truly belong to the Gnostic.
And how shall one "judge" the apostate "angels," who has become himself an apostate from that forgetfulness of injuries, which is according to the Gospel? "Why do ye not rather suffer wrong?" he says; "why are ye not rather defrauded? Yea, ye do wrong and defraud,"[4] manifestly by praying against those who transgress in ignorance, and deprive of the philanthropy and goodness of God, as far as in you lies, those against whom you pray, "and these your brethren,"--not meaning those in the faith only, but also the proselytes. For whether he who now is hostile shall afterwards believe, we know not as yet. From which the conclusion follows clearly, if all are not yet brethren to us, they ought to be regarded in that light. And now it is only the man of knowledge who recognises all men to be the work of one God, and invested with one image in one nature, although some may be more turbid than others; and in the creatures he recognises the operation, by which again he adores the will of God.
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?"[5] He acts unrighteously who retaliates, whether by deed or word, or by the conception of a wish, which, after the training of the Law, the Gospel rejects.
"And such were some of you"--such manifestly as those still are whom you do not forgive; "but ye are washed,"[6] not simply as the rest, but with knowledge; ye have cast off the passions of the soul, in order to become assimilated, as far as possible, to the goodness of God's providence by long-suffering, and by forgiveness "towards the just and the unjust," casting on them the gleam of benignity in word and deeds, as the sun.
The Gnostic will achieve this either by greatness of mind, or by imitation of what is better. And that is a third cause. "Forgive, and it shall be forgiven you;" the commandment, as it were, compelling to salvation through superabundance of goodness.
"But ye are sanctified." For he who has come to this state is in a condition to be holy, falling into none of the passions in any way, but as it were already disembodied and already grown holy without[7] this earth.
"Wherefore," he says, "ye are justified in the name of the Lord." Ye are made, so to speak, by Him to be righteous as He is, and are blended as far as possible with the Holy Spirit. For "are not all things lawful to me? yet I will not be brought under the power of any,"[8] so as to do, or think, or speak aught contrary to the Gospel. "Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats, which God shall destroy,"[9]--that is, such as think and live as if they were made for eating, and do not eat that they may live as a consequence, and apply to knowledge as the primary end. And does he not say that these are, as it were, the fleshy parts of the holy body? As a body, the Church of the Lord, the spiritual and holy choir, is symbolized.[1] Whence those, who are merely called, but do not live in accordance with the word, are the fleshy parts. "Now" this spiritual "body," the holy Church, "is not for fornication." Nor are those things which belong to heathen life to be adopted by apostasy from the Gospel. For he who conducts himself heathenishly in the Church, whether in deed, or word, or even in thought, commits fornication with reference to the Church and his own body. He who in this way "is joined to the harlot," that is, to conduct contrary to the Covenant becomes another "body," not holy, "and one flesh," and has a heathenish life and another hope. "But he that is joined to the Lord in spirit" becomes a spiritual body by a different kind of conjunction.
Such an one is wholly a son, an holy man, passionless, gnostic, perfect, formed by the teaching of the Lord; in order that in deed, in word, and in spirit itself, being brought close to the Lord, he may receive the mansion that is due to him who has reached manhood thus.
Let the specimen suffice to those who have ears. For it is not required to unfold the mystery, but only to indicate what is sufficient for those who are partakers in knowledge to bring it to mind; who also will comprehend how it was said by the Lord, "Be ye perfect as your father, perfectly,"[2] by forgiving sins, and forgetting injuries, and living in the habit of passionlessness. For as we call a physician perfect, and a philosopher perfect, so also, in my view, do we call a Gnostic perfect. But not one of those points, although of the greatest importance, is assumed in order to the likeness of God. For we do not say, as the Stoics do most impiously, that virtue in man and God is the same. Ought we not then to be perfect, as the Father wills? For it is utterly impossible for any one to become perfect as God is. Now the Father wishes us to be perfect by living blamelessly, according to the obedience of the Gospel.
If, then, the statement being elliptical, we understand what is wanting, in order to complete the section for those who are incapable of understanding what is left out, we shall both know the will of God, and shall walk at once piously and magnanimously, as befits the dignity of the commandment.

CHAP. XV.--THE OBJECTION TO JOIN THE CHURCH ON ACCOUNT OF THE DIVERSITY OF HERESIES ANSWERED.

Since it comes next to reply to the objections alleged against us by Greeks and Jews; and since, in some of the questions previously discussed, the sects also who adhere to other teaching give, their help, it will be well first to clear away the obstacles before us, and then, prepared thus for the solution of the difficulties, to advance to the succeeding Miscellany.
First, then, they make this objection to us, saying, that they ought not to believe on account of the discord of the sects. For the truth is warped when some teach one set of dogmas, others another.
To whom we say, that among you who are Jews, and among the most famous of the philosophers among the Greeks, very many sects have sprung up. And yet you do not say that one ought to hesitate to philosophize or Judaize, because of the want of agreement of the sects among you between themselves. And then, that heresies should be sown among the truth, as "tares among the wheat," was foretold by the Lord; and what was predicted to take place could not but happen.[3] And the cause of this is, that everything that is fair is followed by a foul blot. If one, then, violate his engagements, and go aside from the confession which he makes before us, are we not to stick to the truth because he has belied his profession? But as the good man must not prove false or fail to ratify what he has promised, although others violate their engagements; so also are we bound in no way to transgress the canon of the Church.[4] And especially do we keep our profession in the most important points, while they traverse it.
Those, then, are to be believed, who hold firmly to the truth. And we may broadly make use of this reply, and say to them, that physicians holding opposite opinions according to their own schools, yet equally in point of fact treat patients. Does one, then, who is ill in body and needing treatment, not have recourse to a physician, on account of the different schools in medicine? No more, then, may he who in soul is sick and full of idols, make a pretext of the heresies, in reference to the recovery of health and conversion to God.
Further, it is said that it is on account of "those that are approved that heresies exist."[5] [The apostle] calls "approved," either those who in reaching faith apply to the teaching of the Lord with some discrimination (as those are called skilful[6] money-changers, who distinguish the spurious coin from the genuine by the false stamp), or those who have already become approved both in life and knowledge.
For this reason, then, we require greater attention and consideration in order to investigate how precisely we ought to live, and what is the true piety. For it is plain that, from the very reason that truth is difficult and arduous of attainment, questions arise from which spring the heresies, savouring of self-love and vanity, of those who have not learned or apprehended truly, but only caught up a mere conceit of knowledge. With the greater care, therefore, are we to examine the real truth, which alone has for its object the true God. And the toil is followed by sweet discovery and reminiscence.
On account of the heresies, therefore, the toil of discovery must be undertaken; but we must not at all abandon [the truth]. For, on fruit being set before us, some real and ripe, and some made of wax, as like the real as possible, we are not to abstain from both on account of the resemblance. But by the exercise of the apprehension of contemplation, and by reasoning of the most decisive character, we must distinguish the true from the seeming.
And as, while there is one royal highway, there are many others, some leading to a precipice, some to a rushing river or to a deep sea, no one will shrink from travelling by reason of the diversity, but will make use of the safe, and royal, and frequented way; so, though some say this, some that, concerning the truth, we must not abandon it; but must seek out the most accurate knowledge respecting it. Since also among garden-grown vegetables weeds also spring up, are the husbandmen, then, to desist from gardening?
Having then from nature abundant means for examining the statements made, we ought to discover the sequence of the truth. Wherefore also we are rightly condemned, if we do not assent to what we ought to obey, and do not distinguish what is hostile, and unseemly, and unnatural, and false, from what is true, consistent, and seemly, and according to nature. And these means must be employed in order to attain to the knowledge of the real truth.
This pretext is then, in the case of the Greeks, futile; for those who are willing may find the truth. But in the case of those who adduce unreasonable excuses, their condemnation is unanswerable. For whether do they deny or admit that there is such a thing as demonstration? I am of opinion that all will make the admission, except those who take away the senses. There being demonstration, then, it is necessary to condescend to questions, and to ascertain by way of demonstration by the Scriptures themselves how the heresies failed, and how in the truth alone and in the ancient Church is both the exactest knowledge, and the truly best set of I principles (<greek>airesis</greek>) .[1]
Now, of those who diverge from the truth, some attempt to deceive themselves alone, and some also their neighbours. Those, then, who are called (<greek>doxosoFoi</greek>) wise in their own opinions, who think that they have found the truth, but have no true demonstration, deceive themselves in thinking that they have reached a resting-place. And of whom there is no inconsiderable multitude, who avoid investigations for fear of refutations, and shun instructions for fear of condemnation. But those who deceive those who seek access to them are very astute; who, aware that they know nothing, yet darken the truth with plausible arguments.
But, in my opinion, the nature of plausible arguments is of one character, and that of true arguments of another. And we know that it is necessary that the appellation of the heresies should be expressed in contradistinction to the truth; from which the Sophists, drawing certain things for the destruction of men, and burying them in human arts invented by themselves, glory rather in being at the head of a School than presiding over the Church?

CHAP. XVI.--SCRIPTURE THE CRITERION BY WHICH TRUTH AND HERESY ARE DISTINGUISHED.[3]

But those who are ready to toil in the most excellent pursuits, will not desist from the search after truth, till they get the demonstration from the Scriptures themselves.
There are certain criteria common to men, as the senses; and others that belong to those who have employed their wills and energies in what is true,--the methods which are pursued by the mind and reason, to distinguish between true and false propositions.
Now, it is a very great thing to abandon opinion, by taking one's stand between accurate knowledge and the rash wisdom of opinion, and to know that he who hopes for everlasting rest knows also that the entrance to it is toilsome "and strait." And let him who has once received the Gospel, even in the very hour in which he has come to the knowledge of salvation, "not turn back, like Lot's wife," as is said; and let him not go back either to his former life, which adheres to the things of sense, or to heresies. For they form the character, not knowing the true God. "For he that loveth father or mother more than Me," the Father and Teacher of the truth, who regenerates and creates anew, and nourishes the elect soul, "is not worthy of Me"--He means, to be a son of God and a disciple of God, and at the same time also to be a friend, and of kindred nature. "For no man who looks back, and puts his hand to the plough, is fit for the kingdom of God."[1]
But, as appears, many even down to our own time regard Mary, on account of the birth of her child, as having been in the puerperal state, although she was not. For some say that, after she brought forth, she was found, when examined, to be a virgin.[2]
Now such to us are the Scriptures of the Lord, which gave birth to the truth and continue virgin, in the concealment of the mysteries of the truth. "And she brought forth, and yet brought not forth,"[3] Says the Scripture; as having conceived of herself, and not from conjunction. Wherefore the Scriptures have conceived to Gnostics; but the heresies, not having learned them, dismissed them as not having conceived.
Now all men, having the same judgment, some, following the Word speaking, frame for themselves proofs; while others, giving themselves up to pleasures, wrest Scripture, in accordance with their lusts.[4] And the lover of truth, as I think, needs force of soul. For those who make the greatest attempts must fail in things of the highest importance; unless, receiving from the truth itself the rule of the truth, they cleave to the truth. But such people, in consequence of falling away from the right path, err in most individual points; as you might expect from not having the faculty for judging of what is true and false, strictly trained to select what is essential. For if they had, they would have obeyed the Scriptures.[5]
As, then, if a man should, similarly to those drugged by Circe, become a beast; so he, who has spurned the ecclesiastical tradition, and darted off to the opinions of heretical men, has ceased to be a man of God and to remain faithful to the Lord. But he who has returned from this deception, on hearing the Scriptures, and turned his life to the truth, is, as it were, from being a man made a god.
For we have, as the source of teaching, the Lord, both by the prophets, the Gospel, and the blessed apostles, "in divers manners and at sundry times,"[6] leading from the beginning of knowledge to the end. But if one should suppose that another origin[7] was required, then no longer truly could an origin be preserved.
He, then, who of himself believes the Scripture and voice of the Lord, which by the Lord acts to the benefiting of men, is rightly [regarded] faithful. Certainly we use it as a criterion in the discovery of things.[8] What is subjected to criticism is not believed till it is so subjected; so that what needs criticism cannot be a first principle. Therefore, as is reasonable, grasping by faith the indemonstrable first principle, and receiving in abundance, from the first principle itself, demonstrations in reference to the first principle, we are by the voice of the Lord trained up to the knowledge of the truth.
For we may not give our adhesion to men on a bare statement by them, who might equally state the opposite. But if it is not enough merely to state the opinion, but if what is stated must be confirmed, we do not wait for the testimony of men, but we establish the matter that is in question by the voice of the Lord, which is the surest of all demonstrations, or rather is the only demonstration; in which knowledge those who have merely tasted the Scriptures are believers; while those who, having advanced further, and become correct expounders of the truth, are Gnostics. Since also, in what pertains to life, craftsmen are superior to ordinary people, and model what is beyond common notions; so, consequently, we also, giving a complete exhibition of the Scriptures from the Scriptures themselves, from faith persuade by demonstration.[9]
And if those also who follow heresies venture to avail themselves of the prophetic Scriptures; in the first place they will not make use of all the Scriptures, and then they will not quote them entire, nor as the body and texture of prophecy prescribe. But, selecting ambiguous expressions, they wrest them to their own opinions, gathering a few expressions here and there; not looking to the sense, but making use of the mere words. For in almost all the quotations they make, you will find that they attend to the names alone, while they alter the meanings; neither knowing, as they affirm, nor using the quotations they adduce, according to their true nature.
But the truth is not found by changing the meanings (for so people subvert all true teaching), but in the consideration of what perfectly belongs to and becomes the Sovereign God, and in establishing each one of the points demonstrated in the Scriptures again from similar Scriptures. Neither, then, do they want to turn to the truth, being ashamed to abandon the claims of self-love; nor are they able to manage their opinions, by doing violence to the Scriptures. But having first promulgated false dogmas to men; plainly fighting against almost the whole Scriptures, and constantly confuted by us who contradict them; for the rest, even now partly they hold out against admitting the prophetic Scriptures, and partly disparage us as of a different nature, and incapable of understanding what is peculiar to them. And sometimes even they deny their own dogmas, when these are confuted, being ashamed openly to own what in private they glory in teaching. For this may be seen in all the heresies, when you examine the iniquities of their dogmas. For when they are overturned by our clearly showing that they are opposed to the Scriptures,[1] one of two things may be seen to have been done by those who defend the dogma. For they either despise the consistency of their own dogmas, or despise the prophecy itself, or rather their own hope. And they invariably prefer what seems to them to be more evident to what has been spoken by the Lord through the prophets and by the Gospel, and, besides, attested and confirmed by the apostles.
Seeing, therefore, the danger that they are in (not in respect of one dogma, but in reference to the maintenance of the heresies) of not discovering the truth; for while reading the books we have ready at hand, they despise them as useless, but in their eagerness to surpass common faith, they have diverged from the truth. For, in consequence of not learning the mysteries of ecclesiastical knowledge, and not having capacity for the grandeur of the truth, too indolent to descend to the bottom of things, reading superficially, they have dismissed the Scriptures.[2] Elated, then, by vain opinion, they are incessantly wrangling, and plainly care more to seem than to be philosophers. Not laying as foundations the necessary first principles of things;
and influenced by human opinions, then making the end to suit them, by compulsion; on account of being confuted, they spar with those who are engaged in the prosecution of the true philosophy, and undergo everything, and, as they say, ply every oar, even going the length of impiety, by disbelieving the Scriptures,[2] rather than be removed from the honours of the heresy and the boasted first seat in their churches; on account of which also they eagerly embrace that convivial couch of honour in the Agape, falsely so called.
The knowledge of the truth among us from what is already believed, produces faith in what is not yet believed; which [faith] is, so to speak, the essence of demonstration. But, as appears, no heresy has at all ears to hear what is useful, but opened only to what leads to pleasure. Since also, if one of them would only obey the truth, he would be healed.
Now the cure of self-conceit (as of every ailment) is threefold: the ascertaining of the cause, and the mode of its removal; and thirdly, the training of the soul, and the accustoming it to assume a right attitude to the judgments come to. For, just like a disordered eye, so also the soul that has been darkened by unnatural dogmas cannot perceive distinctly the light of truth, but even overlooks what is before it.
They say, then, that in muddy water eels are caught by being blinded. And just as knavish boys bar out the teacher, so do these shut out the prophecies from their Church, regarding them with suspicion by reason of rebuke and admonition. In fact, they stitch together a multitude of lies and figments, that they may appear acting in accordance with reason in not admitting the Scriptures. So, then, they are not pious, inasmuch as they are not pleased with the divine commands, that is, with the Holy Spirit. And as those almonds are called empty in which the contents are worthless, not those in which there is nothing; so also we call those heretics empty, who are destitute of the counsels of God and the traditions of Christ; bitter, in truth, like the wild almond, their dogmas originating with themselves, with the exception of such truths as they could not, by reason of their evidence, discard and conceal.
As, then, in war the soldier must not leave the post which the commander has assigned him, so neither must we desert the post assigned by the Word, whom we have received as the guide of knowledge and of life. But the most have not even inquired, if there is one that we ought to follow, and who this is, and how lie is to be followed. For as is the Word, such also must the believer's life be, so as to be able to follow God, who brings all things to end from the beginning by the right course.
But when one has transgressed against the Word, and thereby against God; if it is through becoming powerless in consequence of some impression being suddenly made, he ought to see to have the impressions of reasons at hand. And if it is that he has become "common," as the Scripture[3] says, in consequence of being overcome . the habits which formerly had sway by over him, the habits must be entirely put a stop to, and the soul trained to oppose them. And if it appears that conflicting dogmas draw some away, these must be taken out of the way, and recourse is to be had to those who reconcile dogmas, and subdue by the charm of the Scriptures such of the untutored as are timid, by explaining the truth by the connection of the Testaments.'
But, as appears, we incline to ideas founded on opinion, though they be contrary, rather than to the truth. For it is austere and grave. Now, since there are three states of the soul--ignorance, opinion, knowledge--those who are in ignorance are the Gentiles, those in knowledge, the true Church, and those in opinion, the Heretics. Nothing, then, can be more clearly seen than those, who know, making affirmations about what they know, and the others respecting what they hold on the strength of opinion, as far as respects affirmation without proof.
They accordingly despise and laugh at one another. And it happens that the same thought is held in the highest estimation by some, and by others condemned for insanity. And, indeed, we have learned that voluptuousness, which is to be attributed to the Gentiles, is one thing; and wrangling, which is preferred among the heretical sects, is another; and joy, which is to be appropriated to the Church, another; and delight, which is to be assigned to the true Gnostic, another. And as, if one devote himself to Ischomachus, he will make him a farmer; and to Lampis, a mariner; and to Charidemus, a military commander; and to Simon, an equestrian; and to Perdices, a trader; and to Crobytus, a cook; and to Archelaus, a dancer; and to Homer, a poet; and to Pyrrho, a wrangler; and to Demosthenes, an orator; and to Chrysippus, a dialectician; and to Aristotle, a naturalist; and to Plato, a philosopher: so he who listens to the Lord, and follows the prophecy given by Him, will be formed perfectly in the likeness of the teacher--made a god going about in flesh.[2]
Accordingly, those fall from this eminence who follow not God whither He leads. And He leads us in the inspired Scriptures.
Though men's actions are ten thousand in number, the sources of all sin are but two, ignorance and inability. And both depend on ourselves; inasmuch as we will not learn, nor, on the other hand, restrain lust. And of these, the one is that, in consequence of which people do not judge well, and the other that, in consequence of which they cannot comply with right judgments. For neither will one who is deluded in his mind be able to act rightly, though perfectly able to do what he knows; nor, though capable of judging what is requisite, will he keep himself free of blame, if destitute of power in action. Consequently, then, there are assigned two kinds of correction applicable to both kinds of sin: for the one, knowledge and clear demonstration from the testimony of the Scriptures; and for the other, the training according to the Word, which is regulated by the discipline of faith and fear. And both develop into perfect love. For the end of the Gnostic here is, in my judgment, two-fold,--partly scientific contemplation, partly action.
Would, then, that these heretics would learn and be set right by these notes, and turn to the sovereign God! But if, like the deaf serpents, they listen not to the song called new, though very old, may they be chastised by God, and undergo paternal admonitions previous to the Judgment, till they become ashamed and repent, but not rush through headlong unbelief, and precipitate themselves into judgment.
For there are partial corrections, which are called chastisements, which many of us who have been in transgression incur, by falling away from the Lord's people. But as children are chastised by their teacher, or their father, so are we by Providence. But God does not punish, for punishment is retaliation for evil. He chastises, however, for good to those who are chastised, collectively and individually.
I have adduced these things from a wish to avert those, who are eager to learn, from the liability to fall into heresies, and out of a desire to stop them from superficial ignorance, or stupidity, or bad disposition, or whatever it should be called. And in the attempt to persuade and lead to the truth those who are not entirely incurable, I have made use of these words. For there are some who cannot bear at all to listen to those who exhort them to turn to the truth; and they attempt to trifle, pouring out blasphemies against the truth, claiming for themselves the knowledge of the greatest things in the universe, without having learned, or inquired, or laboured, or discovered the consecutive train of ideas,--whom one should pity rather than hate for such perversity.
But if one is curable, able to bear (like fire or steel) the outspokenness of the truth, which cuts away and burns their false opinions. let him lend the ears of the soul. And this will be the case, unless, through the propensity to sloth, they push truth away, or through the desire of fame, endeavour to invent novelties. For those are slothful who, having it in their power to provide themselves with proper proofs for the divine Scriptures from the Scriptures themselves, select only what contributes to their own pleasures. And those have a craving for glory who voluntarily evade, by arguments of a diverse sort, the things delivered by the blessed apostles and teachers, which are wedded to inspired words; opposing the divine tradition by human teachings, in order to establish the heresy.[1] For, in truth, what remained to be said--in ecclesiastical knowledge I mean--by such men, Marcion, for example, or Prodicus, and such like, who did not walk in the right way? For they could not have surpassed their predecessors in wisdom, so as to discover anything in addition to what had been uttered by them; for they would have been satisfied had they been able to learn the things laid down before.
Our Gnostic then alone, having grown old in the Scriptures, and maintaining apostolic and ecclesiastic orthodoxy in doctrines, lives most correctly in accordance with the Gospel, and discovers the proofs, for which he may have made search (sent forth as he is by the Lord), from the law and the prophets. For the life of the Gnostic, in my view, is nothing but deeds and words corresponding to the tradition of the Lord. But "all have not knowledge. For I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren," says the apostle, "that all were under the cloud, and partook of spiritual meat and drink;"[2] clearly affirming that all who heard the word did not take in the magnitude of knowledge in deed and word. Wherefore also he added: "But with all of them He was not well pleased." Who is this? He who said, "Why do you call Me Lord, and do not the will of My Father?"[3] That is the Saviour's teaching, which to us is spiritual food, and drink that knows no thirsty the water of gnostic life. Further it is said, knowledge is said "to puff up." To whom we say: Perchance seeming knowledge is said to puff up, if one[4] suppose the expression means "to be swollen up." But if, as is rather the case, the expression of the apostle means, "to entertain great and true sentiments," the difficulty is solved. Following, then, the Scriptures, let us establish what has been said: "Wisdom," says Solomon, "has inflated her children." For the Lord did not work conceit by the particulars of His teaching; but He produces trust in the truth and expansion of mind, in the knowledge that is communicated by the Scriptures, and contempt for the things which drag into sin, which is the meaning of the expression "inflated." It teaches the magnificence of the wisdom implanted in her children by instruction. Now the apostle says, "I will know not the speech of those that are puffed up, but the power;"[5] if ye understand the Scriptures magnanimously (which means truly; for nothing is greater than truth). For in that lies the power of the children of wisdom who are puffed up. He says, as it were, I shall know if ye rightly entertain great thoughts respecting knowledge. "For God," according to David, "is known in Judea," that is, those that are Israelites according to knowledge. For Judea is interpreted "Confession." It is, then, rightly said by the apostle, "This Thou, shall not commit adultery, Thou shall not steal, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is comprehended in this word, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."[6]
For we must never, as do those who follow the heresies, adulterate the truth, or steal the canon of the Church, by gratifying our own lusts and vanity, by defrauding our neighbours; whom above all it is our duty, in the exercise of love to them, to teach to adhere to the truth. It is accordingly expressly said, "Declare among the heathen His statutes," that they may not be judged, but that those who have previously given ear may be converted. But those who speak treacherously with their tongues have the penalties that are on record?

CHAP. XVII.--THE TRADITION OF THE CHURCH PRIOR TO THAT OF THE HERESIES.

Those, then, that adhere to impious words, and dictate them to others, inasmuch as they do not make a right but a perverse use of the divine words, neither themselves enter into the kingdom of heaven, nor permit those whom they have deluded to attain the truth. But not having the key of entrance, but a false (and as the common phrase expresses it), a counterfeit key (<greek>antikleis</greek>), by which they do not enter in as we enter in, through the tradition of the Lord, by drawing aside the curtain; but bursting through the side-door, and digging clandestinely through the wall of the Church, and stepping over the truth, they constitute themselves the Mystagogues[8] of the soul of the impious.
For that the human assemblies which they held were posterior to the Catholic Church[9] requires not many words to show.
For the teaching of our Lord at His advent, beginning with Augustus and Tiberius, was completed in the middle of the times of Tiberius.[10]
And that of the apostles, embracing the ministry of Paul, ends with Nero. It was later, in the times of Adrian the king, that those who invented the heresies arose; and they extended to the age of Antoninus the eider, as, for instance, Basilides, though he claims (as they boast) for his master, Glaucias, the interpreter of Peter.
Likewise they allege that Valentinus was a hearer of Theudas.[1] And he was the pupil of Paul. For Marcion, who arose in the same age with them, lived as an old man with the younger[2] [heretics]. And after him Simon heard for a little the preaching of Peter.
Such being the case, it is evident, from the high antiquity and perfect truth of the Church, that these later heresies, and those yet subsequent to them in time, were new inventions falsified [from the truth].
From what has been said, then, it is my opinion that the true Church, that which is really ancient, is one, and that in it those who according to God's purpose are just, are enrolled.[3] For from the very reason that God is one, and the Lord one, that which is in the highest degree honourable is lauded in consequence of its singleness, being an imitation of the one first principle. In the nature of the One, then, is associated in a joint heritage the one Church, which they strive to cut asunder into many sects.
Therefore in substance and idea, in origin, in pre-eminence, we say that the ancient and Catholic[4] Church is alone, collecting as it does into the unity of the one faith--which results from the peculiar Testaments, or rather the one Testament in different times by the will of the one God, through one Lord--those already ordained, whom God predestinated, knowing before the foundation of the world that they would be righteous.
But the pre-eminence of the Church, as the principle of union, is, in its oneness, in this surpassing all things else, and having nothing like or equal to itself. But of this afterwards.
Of the heresies, some receive their appellation from a [person's] name, as that which is called after Valentinus, and that after Marcion, and that after Basilides, although they boast of adducing the opinion of Matthew [without truth]; for as the teaching, so also the tradition of the apostles was one. Some take their designation from a place, as the Peratici; some from a nation, as the [heresy] of the Phrygians; some from an action, as that of the Encratites; and some from peculiar dogmas, as that of the Docetae, and that of the Harmatites; and some from suppositions, and from individuals they have honoured, as those called Cainists, and the Ophians; and some from nefarious practices and enormities, as those of the Simonians called Entychites.

CHAP. XVIII--THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN CLEAN AND UNCLEAN ANIMALS IN THE LAW SYMBOLICAL OF THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE CHURCH, AND JEWS, AND HERETICS.

After showing a little peep-hole to those who love to contemplate the Church from the law of sacrifices respecting clean and unclean animals (inasmuch as thus the common Jews and the heretics are distinguished mystically from the divine Church), let us bring the discourse to a close.
For such of the sacrifices as part the hoof, and ruminate, the Scripture represents as clean and acceptable to God; since the just obtain access to the Father and to the Son by faith. For this is the stability of those who part the hoof, those who study the oracles of God night and day, and ruminate them in the soul's receptacle for instructions; which gnostic exercise the Law expresses under the figure of the rumination of the clean animal. But such as have neither the one nor the other of those qualities it separates as unclean.
Now those that ruminate, but do not part the hoof, indicate the majority of the Jews, who have indeed the oracles of God, but have not faith, and the step which, resting on the truth, conveys to the Father by the Son. Whence also this kind of cattle are apt to slip, not having a division in the foot, and not resting on the twofold support of faith. For "no man," it is said, "knoweth the Father, but he to whom the Son shall reveal Him."[5]
And again, those also are likewise unclean that part the hoof, but do not ruminate.[6] For these point out the heretics, who indeed go upon the name of the Father and the Son, but are incapable of triturating and grinding down the clear declaration of the oracles, and who, besides, perform the works of righteousness coarsely and not with precision, if they perform them at all. To such the Lord says, "Why will ye call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"[1]
And those that neither part the hoof nor chew the cud are entirely unclean.
"But ye Megareans," says Theognis," are neither third
nor fourth, Nor twelfth, neither in reckoning nor in number," "but as chaff which the wind drives away from the face of the earth,"[2] and as a drop from a vessel."[3]
These points, then, having been formerly thoroughly treated, and the department of ethics having been sketched summarily in a fragmentary way, as we promised; and having here and there interspersed the dogmas which are the germs[4] of true knowledge, so that the discovery of the sacred traditions may not be easy to any one of the uninitiated, let us proceed to what we promised.
Now the Miscellanies are not like parts laid out, planted in regular order for the delight of the eye, but rather like an umbrageous and shaggy hill, planted with laurel, and ivy, and apples, and olives, and figs; the planting being purposely a mixture of fruit-bearing and fruitless trees, since the composition aims at concealment, on account of those that have the daring to pilfer and steal the ripe fruits; from which, however, the husbandmen, transplanting shoots and plants, will adorn a beautiful park and a delightful grove.
The Miscellanies, then, study neither arrangement nor diction; since there are even cases in which the Greeks on purpose wish that ornate diction should be absent, and imperceptibly cast in the seed of dogmas, not according to the truth, rendering such as may read laborious and quick at discovery. For many and various are the baits for the various kinds of fishes.
And now, after this seventh Miscellany of ours, we shall give the account of what follows in order from another commencement.[5]

ELUCIDATIONS

I. (Deception, cap. ix. p. 538.)

More and more, the casuistry exposed by Pascal in the Provincial Letters[1] becomes an important subject for the investigation of Americans. Nobody who has any pretensions to scholarship can afford to be ignorant of these letters; for they belong to literature, and not merely to theology. But they belong in a sense to the past; not that "the Society of Jesus "has ceased to maintain all that Pascal has exposed, and to practise even worse, but that the Latin churches have, since the days of Pascal, been formally subjected to a system of casuistry, in some respects superficially reformed, but in all other respects radically bad, and corrosive to society. In Pascal's day this casuistry could only be charged upon individuals, and upon societies and communities: the Roman Church everywhere adopted it, but was not formally committed to it. But in the system of Liguori this corrupt morality has been made authoritative and dogmatic; so that in all the Latin churches it becomes the base of the confessional. For moral purposes, it is the Bible of the millions who resort to their confessors and "directors." These remarks, however, are here introduced merely with reference to the morals of Clement with regard to truth.[2]
I have briefly indicated, in the footnotes, the points which are to be noted in forming an opinion of our author's conceptions of this vital principle. They seem to me conformed to the Gospel; to the teachings of Him who allows no hair-splittings, but says, "Let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay." But, as the text stood in the Edinburgh translation, it did injustice to Clement in one passage, which I have modified. It reads, "He (the Gnostic) both thinks and speaks the truth, unless, at any time, medicinally, as a physician for the safety of the sick, he may lie, or tell an untruth." To this, Clement adds significantly, "according to the Sophists." That is to say, our author tolerates the Christian who has not got beyond the Sophists with respect to benevolent deceptions. As killing is not always murder, so some, even among stem moralists, have maintained that deception by word of mouth is not always lying. This is the extent to which Clement tolerates sophistry, and he goes on to demand the practice of truth in Gospel terms. Now, thank God, the English word "lie" is always infamous; and there is nothing like it, in this respect, in other languages. The Sophists themselves did not so understand the Greek word (<greek>yeudos</greek>), when they apply it to the benevolent deception of a physician, or to the untruths used benevolently with the insane. Nothing infamous attaches to the French word mensonge when used for what are deemed "innocent deceptions." With this whole system of sophistry I have no patience at all; but, in justice to the Sophists, let us not make them worse than they were. They did not understand that such deceptions were lies. Hence, for "lie," I have used the word deceive, correcting a needless rendering of the text, and one to which Clement should not be made to extend even a contemptuous toleration.
In this respect, the holy Jeremy Taylor and Dr. Johnson go further than Clement, and seem to allow that benevolent deceptions may be innocent. Sanderson sustains a sterner morality, and is more generally accepted. Liguori's system is verbally as strong as the Gospel itself: lying is a mortal sin, and never justifiable. But, when he comes to the definition of a lie, it is made so feeble, that the worst liar that ever lived need never resort to it. He may practise all manner of subterfuge, and even perjury, without telling a lie. As, e.g., if he points up his sleeve, while he swears that he did not see the criminal there, he tells no lie: it is the business of the judge and jury to watch his fingers, etc.

II. (True Gnostic, cap. x. p. 540, note 1.)

This unfortunate word Gnostic hides the force of Clement's teaching, throughout this work. Here he virtually expounds it, and we see that it refers even more to the heart than to the head. It carries with it the conduct of life by knowledge; i.e., by "the true Light which lighteneth every man that cometh into the world." (See p. 607, footnote.)

III. (The Scriptures, cap. xvi. p. 550, note 3.)

The Primitive Fathers never dream of anything as dogma which cannot be proved by the Scriptures, save only that the apostolic traditions, clearly proved to be such, must be referred to in proving what is Holy Scripture. It is not possible to graft on this principle the slightest argument for any tradition not indisputably apostolic, so far as the de fide is concerned. Quod semper is the touchstone, in their conceptions, of all orthodoxy. No matter who may teach this or that, now or in any post-apostolic age, their test is Holy Scripture, and the inquiry, Was it always so taught and understood?

 

 
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