Rufinus, Presbyter of Aquileia; His Preface to Clement’s Book of Recognitions.
To Bishop Gaudentius.
To thee, indeed, O Gaudentius, thou choice glory of our doctors, belongs such vigour of mind, yea, such grace of the Spirit, that whatever you say even in the course of your daily preaching, whatever you deliver in the church, ought to be preserved in books, and handed down to posterity for their instruction. But we, whom slenderness of wit renders less ready, and now old age renders slow and inactive, though after many delays, yet at length present to you the work which once the virgin Sylvia of venerable memory enjoined upon us, that we should render Clement into our language, and you afterwards by hereditary right demanded of us; and thus we contribute to the use and profit of our people, no small spoil, as I think, taken from the libraries of the Greeks, so that we may feed with foreign nourishment those whom we cannot with our own. For foreign things usually seem both more pleasant, and sometimes also more profitable. In short, almost everything is foreign that brings healing to our bodies, that opposes diseases, and neutralizes poisons. For Judæa sends us Lacrymabalsami, Crete Comadictamni, Arabia her flower of spices, India reaps her crop of spikenard; which, although they reach us in a somewhat more broken condition than when they leave their native fields, yet retain entire the sweetness of their odour and their healing virtue. Receive therefore, my soul,1 Clement returning to you; receive him now in a Roman dress. And wonder not if haply the florid countenance of eloquence appear less in him than usual. It matters not, provided the sense tastes the same. Therefore we transport foreign merchandise into our country with much labour. And I know not with how grateful countenances my countrymen welcome me, bringing to them the rich spoils of Greece, and unlocking hidden treasures of wisdom with the key of our language. But may God grant your prayers, that no unlucky eye nor any livid aspect may meet us, lest, by an extreme kind of prodigy, while those from whom he is taken do not envy, yet those upon whom he is bestowed should repine. Truly it is right to point out the plan of our translation to you, who have read these works also in Greek, lest haply in some parts you may think the order of translation not kept. I suppose you are aware that there are two editions in Greek of this work of Clement, - the Ἀναγνώσεις, that is, Recognitions; and that there are two collections of books, differing in some points, but in many containing the same narrative. In short, the last part of this work, in which is the relation concerning the transformation of Simon, is contained in one of the collections, but is not at all in the other.2 There are also in both collections some dissertations concerning the Unbegotten God and the Begotten, and on some other subjects, which, to say nothing more, are beyond our comprehension.3 These, therefore, as being beyond our powers, I have chosen to reserve for others, rather than to produce in an imperfect state. But in the rest, we have given our endeavour, so far as we could, not to vary either from the sentiments or even from the language and modes of expression; and this, although it renders the style of the narrative less ornate, yet it makes it more faithful. The epistle in which the same Clement, writing to James the Lord’s brother, informs him of the death of Peter, and that he had left him his successor in his chair and teaching, and in which also the whole subject of church order is treated, I have not prefixed to this work, both because it is of later date, and because I have already translated and published it.4 But I do 76 not think it out of place to explain here what in that letter will perhaps seem to some to be inconsistent. For some ask, Since Linus and Cletus were bishops in the city of Rome before this Clement, how could Clement himself, writing to James, say that the chair of teaching was handed over to him by Peter?5 Now of this we have heard this explanation, that Linus and Cletus were indeed bishops in the city of Rome before Clement, but during the lifetime of Peter: that is, that they undertook the care of the episcopate, and that he fulfilled the office of apostleship; as is found also to have been the case at Cæsarea, where, when he himself was present, he yet had Zacchæus, ordained by himself, as bishop. And in this way both statements will appear to be true, both that these bishops are reckoned before Clement, and yet that Clement received the teacher’s seat on the death of Peter. But now let us see how Clement, writing to James the Lord’s brother, begins his narrative. 77
1 Var. readings: “magnanimous one,” “my lord,” “my friend.”
2 [The reference is probably to the transformation of the father of Clement into the appearance of Simon Magus. This is narrated in both the Recognitions (book x. 53, etc.) and in the Homilies (xx. 12, etc.), though the latter book closes without any statement of the restoration. It would seem unlikely, then, that Rufinus refers to the Homilies as the “other” collection. The recovery of the closing portion of that work has given us its account of the transformation. - R.]
3 How far Rufinus has omitted portions which occurred in Greek cannot be known. It is quite probable that the apparent heresy of some passages, rather than their incomprehensibility, led him to omit them. This may be urged in favour of the priority of the Homilies, but is not conclusive. - R.]
4 [There is no good reason for doubting that Rufinus refers to the extant epistle prefixed to the Homilies, and forming, with “the Epistle of Peter to James,” which precedes it, a preface and fictitious authentication of that collection. - R.]
5 [The language of Rufinus confirms that of Irenæus, Eusebius, and Jerome, as to the episcopal succession at Rome (assuming that Cletus and Anacletus, named by Irenæus, is identical with Cletus). For other variations, see Church Histories and Encyclopædias (under ClemensRomanus). The current opinion at Rome in the beginning of the fifth century is evident from this passage. Comp. Ante-NiceneFathers, vol. 1. pp. 1, 2. - R.]
Chap. I. - Clement’s Early History; Doubts.
I Clement, who was born in the city of Rome,1 was from my earliest age a lover of chastity; while the bent of my mind held me bound as with chains of anxiety and sorrow. For a thought that was in me - whence originating, I cannot tell - constantly led me to think of my condition of mortality, and to discuss such questions as these: Whether there be for me any life after death, or whether I am to be wholly annihilated: whether I did not exist before I was born, and whether there shall be no remembrance of this life after death, and so the boundlessness of time shall consign all things to oblivion and silence; so that not only we shall cease to be, but there shall be no remembrance that we have ever been. This also I revolved in my mind: when the world was made, or what was before it was made, or whether it has existed from eternity. For it seemed certain, that if it had been made, it must be doomed to dissolution; and if it be dissolved, what is to be afterwards? - unless, perhaps, all things shall be buried in oblivion and silence, or something shall be, which the mind of man cannot now conceive.
Chap. II. - His Distress.
While I was continually revolving in my mind these and such like questions, suggested I know not how, I was pining away wonderfully through excess of grief; and, what was worse, if at any time I thought to cast aside such cares, as being of little use, the waves of anxiety rose all the higher upon me. For I had in me that most excellent companion, who would not suffer me to rest - the desire of immortality: for, as the subsequent issue showed, and the grace of Almighty God directed, this bent of mind led me to the quest of truth, and the acknowledgment of the true light; and hence it came to pass, that ere long I pitied those whom formerly in my ignorance I believed to be happy.
Chap. III. - His Dissatisfaction with the Schools of the Philosophers.
Having therefore such a bent of mind from my earliest years, the desire of learning something led me to frequent the schools of the philosophers. There I saw that nought else was done, save that doctrines were asserted and controverted without end, contests were waged, and the arts of syllogisms and the subtleties of conclusions were discussed. If at any time the doctrine of the immortality of the soul prevailed, I was thankful; if at any time it was impugned, I went away sorrowful. Still, neither doctrine had the power of truth over my heart. This only I understood, that opinions and definitions of things were accounted true or false, not in accordance with their nature and the truth of the arguments, but in proportion to the talents of those who supported them. And I was all the more tortured in the bottom of my heart, because I was neither able to lay hold of any of those things which were spoken as firmly established, nor was I able to lay aside the desire of inquiry; but the more I endeavoured to neglect and despise them, so much the more eagerly, as I have said, did a desire of this sort, creeping in upon me secretly as with a kind of pleasure, take possession of my heart and mind.
Chap. IV. - His Increasing Disquiet.
Being therefore straitened in the discovery of things, I said to myself, Why do we labour in vain, since the end of things is manifest? For if after death I shall be no more, my present torture is useless; but if there is to be for me a life after death, let us keep for that life the excitements that belong to it, lest perhaps some sadder things befall me than those which I now suffer, unless I shall have lived piously and soberly; and, according to the opinions of some of the philosophers, I be consigned to the stream of dark-rolling Phlegethon, or to Tartarus, like Sisyphus and Tityus, and to eternal punishment in the infernal regions, like Ixion and Tantalus. And again I would answer to myself: But these 78 things are fables; or if it be so, since the matter is in doubt, it is better to live piously. But again I would ponder with myself, How should I restrain myself from the lust of sin, while uncertain as to the reward of righteousness? - and all the more when I have no certainty what righteousness is, or what is pleasing to God; and when I cannot ascertain whether the soul be immortal, and be such that it has anything to hope for; nor do I know what the future is certainly to be. Yet still I cannot rest from thoughts of this sort.
Chap. V. - His Design to Test the Immortality of the Soul.
What, then, shall I do? This shall I do. I shall proceed to Egypt, and there I shall cultivate the friendship of the hierophants or prophets, who preside at the shrines. Then I shall win over a magician by money, and entreat him, by what they call the necromantic art, to bring me a soul from the infernal regions, as if I were desirous of consulting it about some business. But this shall be my consultation, whether the soul be immortal. Now, the proof that the soul is immortal will be put past doubt, not from what it says, or from what I hear, but from what I see: for seeing it with my eyes, I shall ever after hold the surest conviction of its immortality; and no fallacy of words or uncertainty of hearing shall ever be able to disturb the persuasion produced by sight. However, I related this project to a certain philosopher with whom I was intimate, who counselled me not to venture upon it; “for,” said he, “if the soul should not obey the call of the magician, you henceforth will live more hopelessly, as thinking that there is nothing after death, and also as having tried things unlawful. If, however, yon seem to see anything, what religion or what piety can arise to you from things unlawful and implores? For they say that transactions of this sort are hateful to the Divinity, and that God sets Himself in opposition to those who trouble souls after their release from the body.” When I heard this, I was indeed staggered in my purpose; yet I could not in any way either lay aside my longing, or cast off the distressing thought.
Chap. VI. - Hears of Christ.
Not to make a long story of it, whilst I was tossed upon these billows of my thought, a certain report, which took its rise in the regions of the East in the reign of Tiberius Cæsar, gradually reached us; and gaining strength as it passed through every place, like some good message sent from God, it was filling the whole world, and suffered not the divine will to be concealed in silence. For it was spread over all places, announcing that there was a certain person in Judæa, who, beginning in the spring-time,2 was preaching the kingdom of God to the Jews, and saying that those should receive it who should observe the ordinances of His commandments and His doctrine. And that His speech might be believed to be worthy of credit, and full of the Divinity, He was said to perform many mighty works, and wonderful signs and prodigies by His mere word; so that, as one having power from God, He made the deaf to hear, and the blind to see, and the lame to stand erect, and expelled every infirmity and all demons from men; yea, that He even raised dead persons who were brought to Him; that He cured letters also, looking at them from a distance; and that there was absolutely nothing which seemed impossible to Him. These and such like things were confirmed in process of time, not now by frequent rumours, but by the plain statements of persons coming from those quarters; and day by day the truth of the matter was further disclosed.
Chap. VII. - Arrival of Barnabas at Rome.
At length meetings began to be held in various places in the city, and this subject to be discussed in conversation, and to be a matter of wonder who this might be who had appeared, and what message He had brought from God to men; until, about the same year, a certain man, standing in a most crowded place in the city, made proclamation to the people, saying: “Hear me, O ye citizens of Rome. The Son of God is now in the regions of Judæa, promising eternal life to ever), one who will hear Him, but upon condition that he shall regulate his actions according to the will of Him by whom He hath been sent, even of God the Father. Wherefore turn ye from evil things to good, from things temporal to things eternal. Acknowledge that there is one God, ruler of heaven and earth, in whose righteous sight ye unrighteous inhabit His world. But if ye be converted, and act according to His will, then, coming to the world to come, and being made immortal, ye shall enjoy His unspeakable blessings and rewards.”3 Now, the man who spoke these things to the people was from the regions of the East, by nation a Hebrew, by name Barnabas, who said that he himself was one of His disciples, and that he was sent for this end, that he should declare these things to those who would hear them.4 When I heard these things, I began, with the rest of the 79 multitude, to follow him, and to hear what he had to say. Truly I perceived that there was nothing of dialectic artifice in the man, but that he expounded with simplicity, and without any craft of speech, such things as he had heard from the Son of God, or had seen. For he did not confirm his assertions by the force of arguments, but produced, from the people who stood round about him, many witnesses of the sayings and marvels which he related.
Chap. VIII. - His Preaching.
Now, inasmuch as the people began to assent willingly to the things which were sincerely spoken, and to embrace his simple discourse, those who thought themselves learned or philosophic began to laugh at the man, and to flout him, and to throw out for him the grappling-hooks of syllogisms, like strong arms. But he, unterrified, regarding their subtleties as mere ravings, did not even judge them worthy of an answer, but boldly pursued the subject which he had set before him. At length, some one having proposed this question to him as he was speaking, Why a gnat has been so formed, that though it is a small creature, and has six feet, yet it has got wings in addition; whereas an elephant, though it is an immense animal, and has no wings, yet has only four feet; he, paying no attention to the question, went on with his discourse, which had been interrupted by the unseasonable challenge, only adding this admonition at every interruption: “We have it in charge to declare to you the words and the wondrous works of Him who hath sent us, and to confirm the truth of what we speak, not by artfully devised arguments, but by witnesses produced from amongst yourselves. For I recognise many standing in the midst of you whom I remember to have heard along with us the things which we have heard, and to have seen what we have seen. But be it in your option to receive or to spurn the tidings which we bring to you. For we cannot keep back what we know to be for your advantage, because, if we be silent, woe is to us; but to you, if you receive not what we speak, destruction. I could indeed very easily answer your foolish challenges, if you asked for the sake of learning truth, - I mean as to the difference of a gnat and an elephant; but now it were absurd to speak to you of these creatures, when the very Creator and Framer of all things is unknown by you.”
Chap. IX. - Clement’s Interposition on Behalf of Barnabas.
When he had thus spoken, all, as with one consent, with rude voice raised a shout of derision, to put him to shame, and to silence him, crying out that he was a barbarian and a madman. When I saw matters going on in this way, being filled, I know not whence, with a certain zeal, and inflamed with religious enthusiasm, I could not keep silence, but cried out with all boldness, “Most righteously does Almighty God hide His will from you, whom He foresaw to be unworthy of the knowledge of Himself, as is manifest to those who are really wise, from what you are now doing. For when you see that preachers of the will of God have come amongst you, because their speech makes no show of knowledge of the grammatical art, but in simple and unpolished language they set before you the divine commands, so that all who hear may be able to follow and to understand the things that are spoken, you deride the ministers and messengers of your salvation, not knowing that it is the condemnation of you who think yourselves skilful and eloquent, that rustic and barbarous men have the knowledge of the truth; whereas, when it has come to you, it is not even received as a guest, while, if your intemperance and lust did not oppose, it ought to have been a citizen and a native. Thus you are convicted of not being friends of truth and philosophers, but followers of boasting and vain speakers. Ye think that truth dwells not in simple, but in ingenious and subtle words, and produce countless thousands of words which are not to be rated at the worth of one word. What, then, do ye think will become of you, all ye crowd of Greeks, if there is to be, as he says, a judgment of God? But now give over laughing at this man to your own destruction, and let any one of you who pleases answer me; for, indeed, by your barking you annoy the ears even of those who desire to be saved, and by your clamour you turn aside to the fall of infidelity the minds that are prepared for faith. What pardon can there be for you who deride and do violence to the messenger of the truth when he offers to you the knowledge of God? whereas, even if he brought you nothing of truth, yet, even for the kindness of his intentions towards you, you ought to receive with gratitude and welcome.”
Chap. X. - Intercourse with Barnabas.
While I was urging these and similar arguments, a great excitement was stirred up amongst the bystanders, some being moved with pity as towards a stranger, and approving my speech as in accordance with that feeling; others, petulant and stolid, rousing the anger of their undisciplined minds as much against me as against Barnabas. But as the day was declining to evening, I laid hold of Barnabas by the right hand, and led him away, although reluctantly, to my house; and there I made him remain, lest perchance 80 any one of the rude rabble should lay hands upon him. While we were thus placed in contact for a few days, I gladly heard him discoursing the word of truth; yet he hastened his departure, saying that he must by all means celebrate at Judæa a festal day of his religion which was approaching, and that there he should remain in future with his countrymen and his brethren, evidently indicating that he was horrified at the wrong that had been done to him.
Chap. XI. - Departure of Barnabas.
At length I said to him, “Only expound to me the doctrine of that man who you say has appeared, and I will arrange your sayings in my language, and will preach the kingdom and righteousness of Almighty God; and after that, if you wish it, I shall even sail along with you, for I am extremely desirous to see Judæa, and perhaps I shall remain with you always.” To this he answered, “If indeed you wish to see our country, and to learn those things which you desire, set sail with me even now; or, if there be anything that detains you now, I shall leave with you directions to my dwelling, so that when you please to come you may easily find me; for tomorrow I shall set out on my journey.” When I saw him determined, I went down with him to the harbour, and carefully took from him the directions which he gave me to find his dwelling. I told him that, but for the necessity of getting some money which was due to me, I should not at all delay, but that I should speedily follow him. Having told him this, I commended him to the kindness of those who had charge of the ship, and returned sad; for I was possessed of the memory of the intercourse which I had had with an excellent guest and a choice friend.
Chap. XII. - Clement’s Arrival at Cæsarea, and Introduction to Peter.
Having then stopped for a few days, and having in some measure finished the business of collecting what was owing to me (for I neglected many things through my desire of hastening, that I might not be hindered from my purpose ), I set sail direct for Judæa, and after fifteen days landed at Cæsarea Stratonis, which is the largest city in Palestine.5 When I had landed, and was seeking for an inn, I learned from the conversation of the people, that one Peter, a most approved disciple of Him who appeared in Judæa, and showed many signs and miracles divinely performed among men, was going to hold a discussion of words and questions the next day with one Simon, a Samaritan. Having heard this, I asked to be shown his lodging; and having founder it, and standing before the door, I informed the doorkeeper who I was, and whence I came; and, behold, Barnabas coming out, as soon as he saw me rushed into my arms, weeping for joy, and, seizing me by the hand, led me in to Peter. Having pointed him out to me at a distance. “This,” said he, “is Peter, of whom I spoke, to you as the greatest in the wisdom of God, and to whom also I have spoken constantly of you. Enter, therefore, as one well known to him. For he is well acquainted with all the good that is in thee, and has carefully made himself aware of your religious purpose, whence also he is greatly desirous to see you. Therefore I present you to him to-day as a great gift.” At the same time, presenting me, he said, “This, O Peter, is Clement.”
Chap. XIII. - His Cordial Reception by Peter.
But Peter most kindly, when he heard my name, immediately ran to me and kissed me. Then, having made me sit down, he said, “Thou didst well to receive as thy guest Barnabas, preacher of the truth, nothing fearing the rage of the insane people. Thou shalt be blessed. For as you have deemed an ambassador of the truth worthy of all honour, so the truth herself shall receive thee a wanderer and a stranger, and shall enroll thee a citizen of her own city; and then there shall be great joy to thee, because, imparting a small favour, thou shalt be written heir of eternal blessings. Now, therefore, do not trouble yourself to explain your mind to me; for Barnabas has with faithful speech informed me of all things about you and your dispositions, almost daily and without ceasing, recalling the memory of your good qualities And to point out to you shortly, as to a friend already of one mind with us, what is your best course; if there is nothing to hinder you, come along with us, and hear the word of the truth, which we are going to speak in every place until we come even to the city of Rome; and now, if you wish anything, speak.”
Chap. XIV. - His Account of Himself.
Having detailed to him what purpose I had conceived from the beginning, and how I had been distracted with vain inquiries, and all those things which at first I intimated to thee, my lord James, so that I need not repeat the same things now, I willingly agreed to travel with him; “for that,” said I, “is just what I was most eagerly desirous of. But first I should wish the scheme of truth to be expounded to the, that I may know whether the soul is mortal or immortal; and if immortal, whether it shall be brought into judgment for those things which it does here. Further, I desire to know what that righteousness 81 is, which is pleasing to God; then, further, whether the world was created, and why it was created, and whether it is to be dissolved, and whether it is to be renovated and made better, or whether after this there shall be no world at all; and, not to mention everything, I should wish to be told what is the case with respect to these and such like things.” To this Peter answered, “I shall briefly impart to you the knowledge of these things, O Clement: therefore listen.
Chap. XV. - Peter’s First Instruction: Causes of Ignorance.
“The will and counsel of God has for many reasons been concealed from men; first, indeed, through bad instruction, wicked associations, evil habits, unprofitable conversation, and un- righteous presumptions. On account of all these, I say, first error, then contempt, then infidelity and malice, covetousness also, and vain boasting, and other such like evils, have filled the whole house of this world, like some enormous smoke, and preventing those who dwell in it from seeing its Founder aright, and from perceiving what things are pleasing to Him. What, then, is fitting for those who are within, excepting with a cry brought forth from their inmost hearts to invoke His aid, who alone is not shut up in the smoke-filled house, that He would approach and open the door of the house, so that the smoke may be dissipated which is within, and the light of the sun which shines without may be admitted.
Chap. XVI. - Instruction Continued: the True Prophet.
“He, therefore, whose aid is needed for the house filled with the darkness of ignorance and the smoke of vices, is He, we say, who is called the true Prophet, who alone can enlighten the souls of men, so that with their eyes they may plainly see the way of safety. For otherwise it is impossible to get knowledge of divine and eternal things, unless one learns of that true Prophet; because, as you yourself stated a little ago, the belief of things, and the opinions of causes, are estimated in proportion to the talents of their advocates: hence, also, one and the same cause is now thought just, now unjust; and what now seemed true, anon becomes false on the assertion of another. For this reason, the credit of religion and piety demanded the presence of the true Prophet, that He Himself might tell us respecting each particular, how the truth stands, and might teach us how we are to believe concerning each.6 And therefore, before all else, the credentials of the prophet himself must be examined with all care; and when you have once ascertained that he is a prophet, it behoves you thenceforth to believe him in everything, and not further to discuss the particulars which he teaches, but to hold the things which he speaks as certain and sacred; which things, although they seem to be received by faith, yet are believed on the ground of the probation previously instituted. For when once at the outset the truth of the prophet is established on examination, the rest is to be heard and held on the ground of the faith by which it is already established that he is a teacher of truth. And as it is certain that all things which pertain to divine knowledge ought to be held according to the rule of truth, so it is beyond doubt that from none but Himself alone can it be known what is true.”
Chap. XVII. - Peter Requests Him to Be His Attendant.
Having thus spoken, he set forth to me so openly and so clearly who that Prophet was, and how He might be found, that I seethed to have before my eyes, and to handle with my hand, the proofs which he produced concerning the prophetic truth; and I was struck with intense astonishment, how no one sees, though placed before his eyes, those things which all are seeking for. Whence, by his command, reducing into order what he had spoken to me, I compiled a book concerning the true Prophet, and sent it to you from Cæsarea by his command. For he said that he had received a command from you to send you every year an account of his sayings and doings.7 Meantime, at the beginning of his discourse which he delivered to me the first day, when he had instructed me very fully concerning the true Prophet, and very many things besides, he added also this: “See,” said he, “for the future, and be present at the discussions which whenever any necessity arises, I shall hold with those who contradict; against whom, when I dispute, even if I shall seem to be worsted, I shall not be afraid of your being led to doubt of those things which I have stated to you; because, even if I shall seem to be beaten, yet those things shall not therefore seem to be uncertain which the true Prophet has delivered to us. Yet I hope that we shall not be overcome in disputations either, if only our hearers are reasonable, and friends of truth, who can discern the force and bearing of words, and recognise what discourse comes from the sophistical art, not containing truth, but an image of truth; and what that is, which, uttered simply and without craft, depends for all its power not on show and ornanent, but on truth and reason.” 82
Chap. XVIII. - His Profiting by Peter’s Instruction.
To this I answered: “I give thanks to God Almighty, because I have been instructed as I wished and desired. At all events, you may depend upon me so far, that I can never come to doubt of those things which I have learned of you; so that even if you yourself should at any time wish to transfer my faith from the true Prophet, you should not be able, because I have drunk in with all my heart what you have spoken. And that you may not think that I am promising you a great thing when I say that I cannot be moved away from this faith, it is with me a certainty, that whoever has received this account of the true Prophet, can never afterwards so much as doubt of its truth. And therefore I am confident with respect to this heaven-taught doctrine, in which all the art of malice is overborne. For in opposition to this prophecy neither any art can stand, nor the subtleties of sophisms and syllogism; but every one who hears of the true Prophet must of necessity long immediately for the truth itself, nor will he afterwards, under pretext of seeking the truth, endure diverse errors. Wherefore, O my lord Peter, be not further anxious about me, as if I were one who does not know what he has received, and how great a gift has been conferred on him. Be assured that you have conferred a favour on one who knows and understands its value: nor can I be easily deceived on that account, because I seem to have gotten quickly what I long desired; for it may be that one who desires gets quickly, while another does not even slowly attain the things which he desires.”
Chap. XIX. - Peter’s Satisfaction.
Then Peter, when he heard me speak thus, said: “I give thanks to my God, both for your salvation and for my own peace; for I am greatly delighted to see that you have understood what is the greatness of the prophetic virtue, and because, as you say, not even I myself, if I should wish it (which God forbid!), should be able to turn you away to another faith. Now henceforth begin to be with us, and to-morrow be present at our discussions, for I am to have a contest with Simon the magician.” When he had thus spoken, he retired to take food along with his friends; but he ordered me to eat by myself;8 and after the meal, when he had sung praise to God and given thanks, he rendered to me an account of this proceeding, and added, “May the Lord grant to thee to be made like to us in all things, that, receiving baptism, thou mayest be able to meet with us at the same table.” Having thus spoken, he ordered me to go to rest, for by this time both fatigue and the time of the day called to sleep.
Chap. XX. - Postponement of Discussion with Simon Magus.
Early next morning Zacchæus9 came in to us, and after salutation, said to Peter: “Simon puts off the discussion till the eleventh day of the present month, which is seven days hence, for he says that then he will have more leisure for the contest. But to me it seems that his putting off is also advantageous to us, so that more may come together, who may be either hearers or judges of our disputation. However, if it seem proper to you, let us occupy the interval in discussing among ourselves the things which, we suppose, may come into the controversy; so that each of us, knowing what things are to be proposed, and what answers are to be given, may consider with himself if they are all right, or if an adversary shall be able to find anything to object, or to set aside the things which we bring against him. But if the things which are to be spoken by us are manifestly impregnable on every side, we shall have confidence in entering upon the examination. And indeed, this is my opinion, that first of all it ought to be inquired what is the origin of all things, or what is the immediate10 thing which may be called the cause of all things which are: then, with respect to all things that exist, whether they have been made, and by whom, through whom, and for whom; whether they have received their subsistence from one, or from two, or from many; and whether they have been taken and fashioned from none previously subsisting, or from some: then, whether there is any virtue in the highest things, or in the lower; whether there is anything which is better than all, or anything that is inferior to all; whether there are any motions, or none; whether those things which are seen were always, and shall be always; whether they have come into existence without a creator, and shall pass away without a destroyer. If, I say, the discussion begin with these things, I think that the things which shall be inquired into, being discussed with diligent examination, will be easily ascertained. And when these are ascertained, the knowledge of those that follow will be easily found. I have stated my opinion; be pleased to intimate what you think of the matter.11 83
Chap. XXI. - Advantage of the Delay.
To this Peter answered: “Tell Simon in the meantime to do as he pleases, and to rest assured that, Divine Providence granting, he shall always find us ready.” Then Zacchæus went out to intimate to Simon what he had been told. But Peter, looking at us, and perceiving that I was saddened by the putting off of the contest, said: “He who believes that the world is administered by the providence of the Most High God, ought not, O Clement, my friend, to take it amiss, in whatever way particular things happen, being assured that the righteousness of God guides to a favourable and fitting issue even those things which seem superfluous or contrary in any business, and especially towards those who worship Him more intimately; and therefore he who is assured of these things, as I have said, if anything occur contrary to his expectation, he knows how to drive away grief from his mind on that account, holding it unquestionable in his better judgment, that, by the government of the good God, even what seems contrary may be turned to good. Wherefore, O Clement, even now let not this delay of the magician Simon sadden you: for I believe that it has been done by the providence of God, for your advantage; that I may be able, in this interval of seven days, to expound to you the method of our faith without any distraction, and the order continuously, according to the tradition of the true Prophet, who alone knows the past as it was, the present as it is, and the future as it shall be: which things were indeed plainly spoken byHim, but are not plainly written; so much so, that when they are read, they cannot be understood without an expounder, on account of the sin which has grown up with men, as I said before. Therefore I shall explain all things to you, that in those things which are written yon may clearly perceive what is the mind of the Lawgiver.”
Chap. XXII. - Repetition of Instructions.
When he had said this, he began to expound to me point by point of those chapters of the law which seemed to be in question, from the beginning of the creation even to that point of time at which I came to him at Cæsarea, telling me that the delay of Simon had contributed to my learning all things in order. “At other times.” said he, “we shall discourse more fully on individual points of which we have now spoken shortly, according as the occasion of our conversation shall bring them before us; so that, according to my promise, you may gain a full and perfect knowledge of all. Since, then, by this delay we have to-day on our hands, I wish to repeat to you again what has been spoken, that it may be the better recalled to your memory.” Then he began in this way to refresh my recollection of what he had said: “Do you remember, O friend Clement, the account I gave you of the eternal age, that knows no end?” Then said I, “Never, O Peter, shall I retain anything, if I can lose or forget that.”
Chap. XXIII. - Repetition Continued.
Then Peter, having heard my answer with pleasure, said: “I congratulate you because you have answered thus, not because you speak of these things easily, but because you profess that you remember them; for the most sublime truths are best honoured by means of silence. Yet, for the credit of those things which you remember concerning things not to be spoken,12 tell me what you retain of those things which we spoke of in the second place, which can easily be spoken out, that, perceiving your tenacity of memory, I may the more readily point out to you, and freely open, the things of which I wish to speak.” Then I, when I perceived that he rejoiced in the good memory of his hearers, said: “Not only am I mindful of your definition, but also of that preface which was prefixed to the definition; and of almost all things that you have expounded, I retain the sense complete, though not all the words; because the things that you have spoken have been made, as it were, native to my soul, and inborn. For you have held out a most sweet cup to me in my excessive thirst. And that you may not suppose that I am occupying you with words, being unmindful of things, I shall now call to mind the things which were spoken, in which the order of your discussion greatly helps me; for the way in which the things that you said followed by consequence upon one another, and were arranged in a balanced man-her, makes them easily recalled to memory by the lines of their order. For the order of sayings is useful for remembering them: for when you begin to follow them point by point in succession, when anything is wanting, immediately the sense seeks for it; and when it has found it, retains it, or at all events, if it cannot discover it, there will be no reluctance to ask it of the master. But not to delay in granting what you demand of me, I shall shortly rehearse what you delivered to me concerning the definition of truth.
Chap. XXIV. - Repetition Continued.
“There always was, there is now, and there ever shall be, that by which the first Will begotten 84 from eternity consists; and from the first Will proceeds a second Will. After these came the world; and from the world came time: from this, the multitude of men; from the multitude the election of the beloved, from whose oneness of mind the peaceful kingdom of God is constructed. But the rest, which ought to follow these, you promised to tell me at another time. After this, when you had explained about the creation of the world, you intimated the decree of God, “which He, of His own good pleasure, announced in the presence of all the first angels,” and which He ordained as an eternal law to all; and how He established two kingdoms, - I mean that of the present time and that of the future, - and appointed times to each, and decreed that a day of judgment should be expected, which He determined, in which a severance is to be made of things and of souls: so that the wicked indeed shall be consigned to eternal fire for their sins; but those who have lived according to the will of God the Creator, having received a blessing for their good works, effulgent with brightest light, introduced into an eternal abode, and abiding in incorruption, shall receive eternal gifts of ineffable blessings.”
Chap. XXV. - Repetition Continued.
While I was going on thus, Peter, enraptured with joy, and anxious for me as if I had been his son, lest perhaps I should fail in recollection of the rest, and be put to shame on account of those who were present, said: “It is enough, O Clement; for you have stated these things more clearly than I myself explained them.” Then said I, “Liberal learning has conferred upon me the power of orderly narration, and of stating those things clearly for which there is occasion. And if we use learning in asserting the errors of antiquity, we ruin ourselves by gracefulness and smoothness of speech; but if we apply learning and grace of speech to the assertion of the truth, I think that not a little advantage is thereby gained. Be that as it may, my lord Peter, you can but imagine with what thankfulness I am transported for all the rest of your instruction indeed, but especially for the statement of that doctrine which you gave: There is one God, whose work the world is, and who, because He is in all respects righteous, shall render to every one according to his deeds. And after that you added: For the assertion of this dogma countless thousands of words will be brought forward; but in those to whom is granted knowledge of the true Prophet, all this forest of words is cut down. And on this account, since you have delivered to me a discourse concerning the true Prophet, you have strengthened me with all confidence of your assertions.” And then, having perceived that the sum of all religion and piety consists in this, I immediately replied: “You have proceeded most excellently, O Peter: wherefore, in future, expound unhesitatingly, as to one who already knows what are the foundations of faith and piety, the traditions of the true Prophet, who alone, as has been clearly proved, is to be believed. But that exposition which requires assertions and arguments, reserve for the unbelievers, to whom you have not yet judged it proper to commit the indubitable faith of prophetic grace.” When I had said this, I added: “You promised that you would give at the proper time two things: first this exposition, at once simple and entirely free from error; and then an exposition of each individual point as it may be evolved in the course of the various questions which shall be raised. And after this you expounded the sequence of things in order from the beginning of the world, even to the present time; and if you please, I can repeat the whole from memory.”
Chap. XXVI. - Friendship of God; How Secured.
To this Peter answered: “I am exceedingly delighted, O Clement, that I commit my words to so safe a heart; for to be mindful of the things that are spoken is an indication of having in readiness the faith of works. But he from whom the wicked demon steals away the words of salvation, and snatches them away from his memory, cannot be saved, even though he wish it; for he loses the way by which life is reached. Wherefore let us the rather repeat what has been spoken, and confirm it in your heart, that is, in what manner or by whom the world was made, that we may proceed to the friendship of the Creator. But His friendship is secured by living well, and by obeying His will; which will is the law of all that live. We shall therefore unfold these things briefly to you, in order that they may be the more surely remembered.
Chap. XXVII. - Account of the Creation.
“In the beginning,13 when God had made the heaven and the earth, (Gen_1:1) as one house, the shadow 85 which was cast by the mundane bodies involved in darkness those things which were enclosed in it. But when the will of God had introduced light, that darkness which had been caused by the shadows of bodies was straightway dispelled: then at length light is appointed for the day, darkness for the night. And now the water which was within the world, in the middle space of that first heaven and earth, congealed as if with frost, and solid as crystal, is distended, and the middle spaces of the heaven and earth are separated as by a firmament of this sort; and that firmament the Creator called heaven, so called by the name of that previously made: and so He divided into two portions that fabric of the universe, although it was but one house. The reason of the division was this, that the upper portion might afford a dwelling-place to angels, and the lower to men. After this, the place of the sea and the chaos which had been made received that portion of the water which remained below, by order of the eternal Will; and these flowing down to the sunk and hollow places, the dry land appeared; and the gatherings of the waters were made seas. And after this the earth, which had appeared, produced various species of herbs and shrubs. It gave forth fountains also, and rivers, not only in the plains, but on the mountains. And so all things were prepared, that men who were to dwell in it might have it in their power to use all these things according to their will, that is, either for good or evil.
Chap. XXVIII. - Account of the Creation Continued.
“After this He adorns that visible heaven with stars. He places in it also the sun and the moon, that the day might enjoy the light of the one, the night that of the other; and that at the same time they might be for an indication of things past, present, and future. For they were made for signs of seasons and of days, which, although they are seen indeed by all, are understood only by the learned and intelligent. And when, after this, He had ordered living creatures to be produced from the earth and the waters, He made Paradise, which also He named a place of delights. But after all these things He made man, on whose account He had prepared all things, whose internal species14 is older, and for whose sake all things that are were made, given up to his service, and assigned to the uses of his habitation.
Chap. XXIX. - The Giants: the Flood.
“All things therefore being completed which are in heaven, and in earth, and in the waters, and the human race also having multiplied, in the eighth generation, righteous men, who had lived the life of angels, being allured by the beauty of women, fell into promiscuous and illicit connections with these;15 and thenceforth acting in all things without discretion, and disorderly, they changed the state of human affairs and the divinely prescribed order of life, so that either by persuasion or force they compelled all men to sin against God their Creator. In the ninth generation are born the giants, so called from of old,16 not dragon-footed, as the fables of the Greeks relate, but men of immense bodies, whose bones, of enormous size, are still shown in some places for confirmation. But against these the righteous providence of God brought a flood upon the world, that the earth might be purified from their pollution, and every place might be turned into a sea by the destruction of the wicked. Yet there was then found one righteous man, by name Noah, who, being delivered in an ark with his three sons and their wives, became the colonizer of the world after the subsiding of the waters, with those animals and seeds which he had shut up with him.
Chap. XXX. - Noah’s Sons.
“In the twelfth generation, when God had blessed men, and they had begun to multiply, (Gen_9:1) they received a commandment that they should not taste blood, for on account of this also the deluge had been sent. In the thirteenth generation, when the second of Noah’s three sons had done an injury to his father, and had been cursed by him, he brought the condition of slavery upon his posterity. His elder brother meantime obtained the lot of a dwelling-place in the middle region of the world, in which is the country of Judæa; the younger obtained the eastern quarter, and he the western. In the fourteenth generation one of the cursed progeny first erected an altar to demons, for the purpose of magical arts, and offered there bloody sacrifices. In the fifteenth generation, for the first time, men set up an idol and worshipped it. Until that time the Hebrew language, which had been given by God to men, bore sole sway. In the sixteenth generation the sons of men migrated from the east, and, coming to the lands that had been assigned to their fathers, each one marked the place of his own allotment by his own name. In the seventeenth generation Nimrod I. reigned in Babylonia, and built a city, and thence migrated 86 to the Persians, and taught them to worship fire.17
Chap. XXXI. - World After the Flood.
“In the eighteenth generation walled cities were built, armies were organized and armed, judges and laws were sanctioned, temples were built, and the princes of nations were adored as gods. In the nineteenth generation the descendants of him who had been cursed after the flood, going beyond their proper bounds which they had obtained by lot in the western regions, drove into the eastern lands those who had obtained the middle portion of the world, and pursued them as far as Persia, while themselves violently took possession of the country from which they expelled them. In the twentieth generation a son for the first time died before his father, (Gen_9:28) on account of an incestuous crime.
Chap. XXXII. - Abraham.
“In the twenty-first generation there was a certain wise man, of the race of those who were expelled, of the family of Noah’s eldest son, by name Abraham, from whom our Hebrew nation is derived.18 When the whole world was again overspread with errors, and when for the hideousness of its crimes destruction was really for it, this time not by water, but fire, and when already the scourge was hanging over the whole earth, beginning with Sodom, this man, by reason of his friendship with God, who was well pleased with him, obtained from God that the whole world should not equally perish. From the first this same man, being an astrologer, was able, from the account and order of the stars, to recognise the Creator, while all others were in error, and understood that all things are regulated by His providence. Whence also an angel, (Gen_15:1-21; Gen_22:1-24) standing by him in a vision, instructed him more fully concerning those things which he was beginning to perceive. He showed him also what belonged to his race and posterity, and promised him that those districts should be restored rather than given to them.
Chap. XXXIII. - Abraham: His Posterity.
“Therefore Abraham, when he was desirous to learn the causes of things, and was intently pondering upon what had been told him, the true Prophet appeared to him, who alone knows the hearts and purpose of men, and disclosed to him all things which he desired. He taught him the knowledge of the Divinity; intimated the origin of the world, and likewise its end; showed him the immortality of the soul, and the manner of life which was pleasing to God; declared also the resurrection of the dead, the future judgment, the reward of the good, the punishment of the evil, - all to be regulated by righteous judgment: and having given him all this information plainly and sufficiently, He departed again to the invisible abodes. But while Abraham was still in ignorance, as we said to you before, two sons were born to him, of whom the one was called Ismael, and the other Heliesdros. From the one are descended the barbarous nations, from the other the people of the Persians, some of whom have adopted the manner of living and the institutions of their neighbours, the Brachmans. Others settled in Arabia, of whose posterity some also have spread into Egypt. From them some of the Indians and of the Egyptians have learned to be circumcised, and to be of purer observance than others, although in process of time most of them have turned to impiety what was the proof and sign of purity.
Chap. XXXIV. - The Israelites in Egypt.
“Nevertheless, as he had got these two sons during the time while he still lived in ignorance of things, having received the knowledge of God, he asked of the Righteous One that he might merit to have offspring by Sarah, who was his lawful wife, though she was barren. She obtained a son, whom he named Isaac, from whom came Jacob, and from him the twelve patriarchs, and from these twelve seventy-two. These, when famine befell came into Egypt with all their family; and in the course of four hundred years, being multiplied by the blessing and promise of God, they were afflicted by the Egyptians. And when they were afflicted the true Prophet appeared to Moses, (Exo_3:1-22) and struck the Egyptians with ten plagues, when they refused to let the Hebrew people depart from them, and return to their native land; and he brought the people of God out of Egypt. But those of the Egyptians who survived the plagues, being infected with the animosity of their king, pursued after the Hebrews. And when they had overtaken them at the sea-shore, and thought to destroy and exterminate them all, Moses, pouring out prayer to God, divided the sea into two parts, so that the water was held on the right hand and on the left as if it had been frozen, and the people of God passed as over a dry road; but the Egyptians who were pursuing them, rashly entering, were drowned. For when the last of the Hebrews came out, the last of the Egyptians went down into the sea; and straightway 87 the waters of the sea, which by his command were held bound as with frost, were loosed by his command who had bound them, and recovering their natural freedom, inflicted punishment on the wicked nation.
Chap. XXXV. - The Exodus.
“After this, Moses, by the command of God, whose providence is over all, led out the people of the Hebrews into the wilderness; and, leaving the shortest road which leads from Egypt to Judæa, he led the people through long windings of the wilderness, that, by the discipline of forty years, the novelty of a changed manner of life might root out the evils which had clung to them by a long-continued familiarity with the customs of the Egyptians. Meantime they came to Mount Sinai, and thence the law was given to them with voices and sights from heaven, written in ten precepts, of which the first and greatest was that they should worship God Himself alone, and not make to themselves any appearance or form19 to worship. But when Moses had gone up to the mount, and was staying there forty days, the people, although they had seen Egypt struck with the ten plagues, and the sea parted and passed over by them on foot, manna also given to them from heaven for bread, and drink supplied to them out of the rock that followed (1Co_10:4) them, which kind of food was turned into whatever taste any one desired; and although, being placed under the torrid region of heaven, they were shaded by a cloud in the day-time, that they might not be scorched by the heat, and by night were enlightened by a pillar of fire, lest the horror of darkness should be added to the wasteness of the wilderness; - those very people, I say, when Moses stayed in the mount, made and worshipped a golden calf’s head, after the fashion of Apis, whom they had seen worshipped in Egypt; and after so many and so great marvels which they had seen, were unable to cleanse and wash out from themselves the defilements of old habit. On this account, leaving the short road which leads from Egypt to Judæa, Moses conducted them by an immense circuit of the desert, if haply he might be able, as we mentioned before, to shake off the evils of old habit by the change of a new education.