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ANF02. Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire)
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Elucidations

I.

(Note 1, p. 591.)

The kingdom of Christ was set up in great weakness, that nothing might be wanting to the glory of His working by the Spirit, in its triumph over the darkness of the world. “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble,” were called.39233923    1 Cor. i. 26, 27. And so it continued for a long time. Under Commodus, however (a.d. 180–192), a temporary respite was conceded; partly because his favourite Marcia took their part for some reason, and partly because his cruelty gratified itself in another direction. “Our circumstances,” says Eusebius, “were changed to a milder aspect; as there was peace prevailing, by the grace of God, throughout the world in the churches. Then, also, the saving-doctrine brought the minds of men to a devout veneration of the Supreme God, from every race on earth, so that, now, many of those eminent at Rome for their wealth and kindred, with their whole house and family, yielded themselves to salvation.” What happened near the court of a fickle tyrant was far more likely to be common in Antioch and Alexandria. Men’s consciences had no doubt been with the Christians, as Pilate’s was with their Master; and now, when it became less perilous, they began to laugh at idols, and even to enroll themselves with Christians. Some, no doubt, like Joseph and Nicodemus, gave themselves to the Lord; but others, “with a form of godliness, denied the power thereof.” Clement detected the great evil that began to threaten, and this beautiful tract is the product of his watchful observation. For he was gifted, also, with that great characteristic of noble mind, a faculty of foreseeing “whereunto such things must grow.” His love and solicitude for the Church, lest its simplicity should pass away with its poverty, dictated this solemn and most timely warning.

And it is worthy of grateful remark, how admirably sustained was this primitive spirit among all the early witnesses for truth. They were not of this world, and they dreaded its influence. How richly the Word dwelt in them, is manifest from their amazing familiarity with the Scriptures. That they sometimes misquote or confuse quotations, or mix a Scriptural saying with some current proverb or an apocryphal gloss, is surely not surprising, when copies of the Scriptures were few and costly, when no concordances and books of reference were at hand, and when their whole apparatus for Biblical study was so extremely incomplete.

To the genius of this great Alexandrian Father, we are all debtors to this day. Had he not, unfortunately, allied much of his wisdom with the hateful name of the Gnostic,39243924   For Gnostic, Intellector is used, p. 577. Why not use the Latin word Perfector? The idea is not simply perfectus: Clement’s Gnostic is a gnomon, actively indexing the mind of Christ.which he failed to wrest from the pseudo-Gnostics, with whom it is irrevocably associated, we may be sure his expositions of Christian philosophy would be more useful in our times.

II.

(Segaar, note 3, p. 594.)

Charles Segaar, S.T.D., born in 1724, was Greek professor at Utrecht, from 1766 to 1803, after filling several important and laborious positions as a pastor and preacher. He died Dec. 22, 1803. He has left a great reputation as “the most theological of philologists, and the most philological of theologians.” Had he gone over the entire text of Clement, and edited all his works, with the care and ability displayed in his critical edition of the Τίς ὁ σωζόμενος πλούσιος, the world would have been greatly enriched by his influence on the cultivation of patristic literature. In his eloquent preface to this tract, he bewails the neglect into which that fundamental department of Christian learning had fallen; praising the labours of Anglican scholars, who, in the former century, had devoted themselves to the production of valuable editions of the Fathers. He speaks of himself as from early years inflamed with a singular love of such studies and especially of the Greek Fathers, and adds an expression of the extreme gratification with which he had read and pondered the Quis dives Salvandus, among the admirable works of Clement of Alexandria. He corrects Ghisler’s error in crediting it to Origen (edition of 1623), and reminds us that there is but a single ms. from which it is derived, viz., that of the Vatican.

Apart from the value of Segaar’s annotations, his work is very useful to Greek scholars, for its varied erudition, much wealth of his learning being expended upon single words and their idiomatic uses. The sort of work devoted to this tract is precisely what I covet for my countrymen; and I look forward with hope to the day as not remote, when from regions now unnamed, in this vast domain of our republican America, critical editions of all of the Ante-Nicene Fathers shall be given to the republic of letters, with a beauty of typography hitherto unknown. The valuable Patrologia of Migne might well be made the base of a Phœnix-like edition of the same series. It was only fit for such a base; for its print and paper are disgraceful, and the inaccuracy and carelessness of its references and editorial work are only pardonable when one reflects on the small cost at which it was afforded. The plates have perished in flames; but the restoration of the whole work is worthy of the ambition of American scholars, and of the patronage of wealth now sordid but capable of being ennobled by being made useful to mankind.

III.

(Willing Souls, cap. xxi. p. 597.)

On the subject of free-will, so profusely illustrated by Clement, I have foreborne to add any comments. But Segaar’s Excursus (iv. p. 410) is worthy of being consulted. On Clement’s ideas of Hades and the intermediate state, I have made no comment; but Segaar’s endeavour to state judicially the view of our author (Excursus, x. p. 421), though in some particulars it seems to me unsatisfactory, is also worthy of examination.

If a number of other important points have been apparently overlooked in my Elucidations, it is because I fear I have already gone beyond the conditions and limitations of my work.


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