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ANF02. Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire)
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Chapter II.—The Meaning of the Name Stromata or Miscellanies.

Let these notes of ours, as we have often said for the sake of those that consult them carelessly and unskilfully, be of varied character—and as the name itself indicates, patched together—passing constantly from one thing to another, and in the series of discussions hinting at one thing and demonstrating another. “For those who seek for gold,” says Heraclitus, “dig much earth and find little gold.” But those who are of the truly golden race, in mining for what is allied to them, will find the much in little. For the word will find one to understand it. The Miscellanies of notes contribute, then, to the recollection and expression of truth in the case of him who is able to investigate with reason. And you must prosecute, in addition to these, other labours and researches; since, in the case of people who are setting out on a road with which they are unacquainted, it is sufficient merely to point out the direction. After this they must walk and find out the rest for themselves. As, they say, when a certain slave once asked at the oracle what he should do to please his master, the Pythian priestess replied, “You will find if you seek.” It is truly a difficult matter, then, as turns out, to find out latent good; since

“Before virtue is placed exertion,

And long and steep is the way to it,

And rough at first; but when the summit is reached,

Then is it easy, though difficult [before].”

“For narrow,” in truth, “and strait is the way” of the Lord. And it is to the “violent that the kingdom of God belongs.”26802680    Matt. vii. 14, xi. 12, vii. 7.

Whence, “Seek, and ye shall find,” holding on by the truly royal road, and not deviating. As we might expect, then, the generative power of the seeds of the doctrines comprehended in this treatise is great in small space, as the “universal herbage of the field,”26812681    Job v. 25. as Scripture saith. Thus the Miscellanies of notes have their proper title, wonderfully like that ancient oblation culled from all sorts of things of which Sophocles writes:—

“For there was a sheep’s fleece, and there was a vine,

And a libation, and grapes well stored;

And there was mixed with it fruit of all kinds,

And the fat of the olive, and the most curious

Wax-formed work of the yellow bee.”

Just so our Stromata, according to the husbandman of the comic poet Timocles, produce “figs, olives, dried figs, honey, as from an all-fruitful field;” on account of which exuberance he adds:—

“Thou speakest of a harvest-wreath not of husbandry.”

For the Athenians were wont to cry:—

“The harvest-wreath bears figs and fat loaves,

And honey in a cup, and olive oil to anoint you.”

We must then often, as in winnowing sieves, shake and toss up this the great mixture of seeds, in order to separate the wheat.


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