The Ecclesiology of St. Clement

 

1. THE CHURCH

The Alexandrians who enjoyed the membership of an apostolic and well organized church adopted this spiritual concept. According to them, the Church is not a human organization, but a divine fellowship of repented sinners who trust in the Savior and enjoy unity with Him and also unity with each other in Him, through the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the Alexandrians' view of knowledge (gnosis) as a divine gift constantly granted by the Father through His Son to the spiritual believers, that they may enjoy His divine mysteries, attracted even the clergymen towards practising contemplation, studying the Holy Bible, worshipping etc. and not towards involvement in church administration.

J.N.D. Kelly says: [Meanwhile at Alexandria, as we might expect, while the visible Church received its need of recognition, the real focus of interest tended to be the invisible Church of the true Gnostic; the treatment accorded to the early hierarchy was generally perfunctory.]

As a Churchman he loved the church, her tradition and laws. The sign of our membership of the Church is our spiritual knowledge of God. Its unity is based on the oneness of faith. Her (the Church) motherhood is correlated to the fatherhood of God.

 

 

I. THE VIRGIN MOTHER

St. Clement of Alexandria speaks of the Church as the Virgin Mother of the Christians, her motherhood is correlated to God's fatherhood, through her loving kindness she feeds her children on the Logos as holy milk . She asserts Him as the Educator (Paidagogue) and as the "Subject of teaching." He says:

"Their children," it is said, "shall be borne upon their shoulders, and fondled on their knees; as one whom his mother comforts, so also shall I comfort you" Isa. 66: 12, 13. The mother draws the children to herself; and we seek our mother the Church . Whatever is feeble and tender, as needing help on account of its feebleness, is kindly look on, and is sweet and pleasant, anger changing into help in the case of such ... Thus also the Father of the Universe cherishes affections towards those who have fled to Him, and having begotten them again by His Spirit to the adoption of children, knows them as gentle, and loves those alone, aids and fights for them; and therefore He bestows on them the name of child.

O wondrous mystery! One is the Father of all, one also the Logos of all, and the Holy Spirit is one and the same everywhere and there in only one Virgin Mother; I love to call her the Church. This mother alone had no milk, because she alone did not become woman, but she is both virgin and mother, being undefiled as a virgin and loving as a mother; and calling her children to her she nurses them with holy milk, the Logos for the children.

J. Lebreton comments on this text, saying, "This fine passage brings to us echoes of a teaching we have heard more than once in the course of the second century, the motherhood of the Church which the old Hermas already revered with such touching tenderness. That the Word became by His incarnation the milk of children had likewise been said by Irenaeus. All these symbols flow together here into one and the same mystical current, which carries the soul towards the Church. And the Church which Clement envisages is not at all the Church imagined by the Gnostics in the far-off shadow of the Pleroma, it is the one visible Church, which carries within itself all Christians, and feeds them all with the one Word."

One must be careful not to interpret Clement's doctrine of salvation in excessively individualistic terms, for the church has an important part in the process of salvation. The church is the Mother of Believers, and it is within her that the process of illumination and divinization takes place which leads the Christian to the life of the "true Gnostic." One enters this church through baptism, and is nourished within it by means of the Eucharist.

She is also the virgin mother of Christians, feeding them on the Logos as holy milk. It becomes the gathering of the elect, an impregnable city ruled by the Logos. It is an icon of the heavenly Church, that is why we pray that God’s will may be accomplished on earth as it is in heaven.

The Mother draws the children to herself and we seek our Mother, the Church.

Feed us, Your little ones, for we are Your sheep! Yes, O Master, fill us with Your food, Your justice. Yes O Educator, shepherd us to Your holy mountain, the Church, which is lifted up above the clouds, touching the heavens.

As a mother consoles her little children, so will I console you. The mother leads her little children, and we seek for our mother, the Church.

St. Clement assures the salvation of men as the purpose of the church, "Just as the will of God is an action, and is called the world, so its intention is the salvation of men, and this is called the Church."

In the final chapter of the Paidagogos Clement calls the Church the spouse and mother of the Tutor. She is the school in which her spouse Jesus is the Teacher. He then continues:

O graduates of His blessed tutorship! Let us [by our presence] make complete the fair countenance of the Church, and let us as children run to our good Mother. And when we have become hearers of the Word, let us extol the blessed dispensation by which man is brought up and sanctified as a child of God, and being trained on earth attains to citizenship in heaven and there receives his Father, whom he learns to know on earth.

He mentions how the believer must prepare himself or herself before entering the Church. He also mentions that the Church in his days did not use musical instruments. Jesus Christ Himself is the lyre of the Church.

 

II. A COMMUNITY OF JOY

The Alexandrians often look to the Church as the "Community of Joy." According to St. Clement, the Church was symbolized by Rebecca which - in his opinion - means "laughter." He says: "The Spirit of those that are children in Christ, whose lives are ordered in endurance, rejoice."

 

III. THE BODY OF CHRIST

St. Clement of Alexandria clearly teaches that the Church is the body of Christ, nourished on His Body and Blood.

 

IV. A NEW CREATION

St. Clement of Alexandria states that the Church is the holy vine, or the holy tree, where the saints, who became a new creation in Christ, together with the heavenly creatures, dwell on its branches. He comments on the parable of the mustard seed (Matt. 13: 31,32), saying: "To such increased size did the growth of the Word come, that the tree which sprung from it (that is the Church of Christ, established over the whole earth) filled the world so that the fowls of the air, that is, the divine angels and lofty souls, dwelt in its branches."

 

V. THE FIRST-BORN CHURCH

For this is the first-born Church (Heb. 12: 23), composed of many good children; these are the first born enrolled in Heaven, and hold high festival with so many myriads of angels. We too are first-born sons, who are reared by God, who are genuine friends of the first-born, who first and foremost attained to the knowledge of God.

 

VI. THE CHURCH, Old and new

St. Clement of Alexandria who proclaims the Church as a continuation of the old one, confirms that she is new in Christ. He asserts that she never become old, for the Holy Spirit always renews her youthfulness.

The new people, in contrast to the older people, are young, because they have heard the new good things.

We are always young, always new: for those must necessarily be new, who become partakers of the new Word.

 

VII. THE HEAVENLY CHURCH

The earthly Church is usually described as the image of the heavenly one, and that it is this ideal Church, "the church on high," which is more often the subject of Clement's thought in the Stromata.

St. Clement of Alexandria states that the earthly Church is a copy of the heavenly one, that is why we pray that God's will may be accomplished on earth as it is in heaven . He also says that the perfect Gnostic, i.e., the spiritual believer practises heavenly life while he is on earth, for he "will rest on God's holy mountain, the Church on high, in which are assembled the philosophers of God, the authentic Israelites who are pure in heart ... giving themselves over to the pure intuition of unending contemplation." He also says: "If you enroll yourself as one of God's people, heaven is your country, God your legislation."

 

VIII. ONE CHURCH AND ONE FAITH

St. Clement, as a churchman, looks at "unity as a natural characteristic of the Church, who is united with one God, has one Bible and one Faith. He stresses on the Church unity based on the "One Faith," asking us to avoid the heretics for they cause schism.

Like God Himself the Church is one. St. Clement is firmly convinced that there is only one universal Church as there is only one God the Father, one divine Word and one Holy Spirit. J. Lebreton states that the insistence with which Clement affirms this unity of God and of the Church marks a reaction against Marcionism. We often find in this work the same controversial preoccupation "Our Pedagogue is the holy God Jesus, the Word who teaches the whole human race, the God who is the friend of mankind"; He it was who made His people come out of Egypt, who gradually formed it in the desert; it was He who appeared to Abraham, Jacob and Moses. This controversy becomes more direct in Paidagogos (Chs. 7-12), in which St. Clement proves, against those who deny it, that the same God is just and good.

St. Clement too believes in the deposit, in the oneness of the teaching of the Christian faith from the very beginning.

For just as the teaching is one, so also the tradition of the apostles was one.

It is my view that the true Church, that which is really ancient, is one. . . For from the very reason that God is one, and the Lord is one, that which is in the highest degree honorable is praised as a result of its oneness, for it is an imitation of the one first principle. In the nature of the One, then, the one Church is one . . . Therefore in substance and idea, in origin, in preeminence, we say that the ancient and Catholic Church is alone, gathering as it does into the unity of the one faith . . . in its oneness the preeminence of the Church, as the principle of union, surpasses all other things and has nothing like or equal to itself. Those who "pervert" the "divine words" have not the key but a counter key "by which they do not enter in as we enter in, through the tradition of the Lord.

St. Clement discusses at length the relationship between this tradition and Scripture. The Church has, as "the source of teaching," both the Lord and the Scriptures.

From what has been said, then, it seems clear to me that the true Church, that which is really ancient, is one; and in it are enrolled those who, in accord with a design, are just. ... We say, therefore, that in substance, in concept, in origin and in eminence, the ancient and Catholic Church is alone, gathering as it does into the unity of the one faith which results from the familiar covenants, - or rather, from the one covenant in different times, by the will of the one God and through the one Lord, - those already chosen, those predestined by God who knew before the foundation of the world that they would be just.

 

IX. THE CHURCH AND THE HERETICS

This Church differs in its unity and in its antiquity from the heresies:

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. For from the very reason that God is one, and the Lord one,, that which is in the highest degree honorable is lauded in consequence of its singleness, being an imitation of the on 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 Church is alone collecting as it does into the unity of the one faith those already ordained, whom God predestined 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.

Clement knows that the great obstacle for the conversion of pagans and Jews to the Christian religion is the fact that Christianity is divided by heretical sects:

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 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 to be a follower of the Jews 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. And the cause of this is that everything that is beautiful is always shadowed by its caricature. 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 rule of the Church. And especially the confession, which deals with the essential articles of the faith, is observed by us, but disregarded by the heretics.

 

X. THE CHURCH’S DEMOCRACY

One of the important characteristics of the early Alexandrian Church was its democracy, that appeared clearly in its famous school. Admittance to this school was open for all people regardless of their religion, culture, age, sex, etc.

St. Clement clarifies the democracy of Christianity, saying,

So the Church is full of those chaste women as well as men, who all their life have contemplated the death of Christ. For the individual, whose life is framed as ours is, may philosophize without learning, whether barbarian, whether Greek, whether slave - whether old man, or a boy or a woman. For self - control is common to all human beings who have chosen it. And we admit that the same nature exists in every race, and the same virtue.

Respecting human nature, the woman does not possess one nature, and the man exhibit another, but the same: so also with virtue ... Accordingly a woman is to practise self - restraint and righteousness, and every other virtue, as well as man, both bond and free; since it is a fit consequence that the same nature possesses one and the same virtue.

We do not say that a woman's nature is the same as a man's, as she is a woman. For, undoubtedly, it stands to reason that some difference should exist between them, in virtue of which one is male and the other female. Pregnancy and parturition, accordingly, we say belong to a woman, as she is a woman, and not as she is a human being ... As then there is sameness, as a far in respect to the soul, she will attain to the same virtue; but as there is difference in respect to the peculiar construction of the body, she is destined for childbearing and housekeeping. " For I would have you know," says the apostle, " that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man: for the man is not the woman, but the woman of the man. For neither is the woman without the man, nor the man without the woman, in the Lord" 1 Cor. 11: 3, 8, 11...

But as it is noble for a man to die for virtue, and for liberty, and for himself, so also it is for a woman. For this is not peculiar to the nature of males, but to the nature of the good. Accordingly, both the old man, the young and the servant will live faithfully, and if need be die, which will be to be made alive by death. So we know that both children, and women, and servants have often, against their fathers' and masters', and husbands' will, reached the highest degree of excellence...

Now we can summarize the Christian democracy, according to St. Clement in the following points:

a. All human beings are equal for they have the same nature, all have sinned, are in need of the same Savior, and can attain the same virtues.

b. This equality that depends on the same human nature does not cancel the differences between them, for man has his own role that fits his manhood and woman has her own role. This difference creates a kind of integrity in human beings, the male is in need of the female and vice versa.

c. All kinds of obedience that the wife, or the children, or the servants show, do not weaken the personality of the person, for he or she practises it in the Lord, for the edification of mankind, through his or her breadth of heart and broad-mindedness. If it is misused and the person is obliged to deny his faith or to commit sin he has the right to disobey, suffering even death, as a sign of his love for God.

 


2. THE CHURCH TRADITION

Eusebius comments, "In the first of Stromaties, Clement shows us that he himself was very close to the tradition of the Apostles... He promises that he would write traditions that he had heard from the presbyters of the olden times."

According to St. Clement "the true Gnostic, having grown old in the Scriptures, and maintaining apostolic and ecclesiastical orthodoxy in his doctrines, lives most correctly in accordance with the gospel and drives from the Law and the prophets the proofs for which he has made search...For the life of the Gnostic, in my view, consists simply in deeds and words which correspond to the tradition of our Lord.

He states that he who spurns the Church tradition ceases to be a man of God, and that gnosis came down from the apostles through their successors to a few (of us) being handed on orally.

Jean Daniélou says, "With the two Alexandrian Fathers, Clement and Origen, we find both elements of early Christian tradition, eschatological and liturgical, and certain minor details utilized by tradition in their development.

 


3. Baptism

Although the teaching of the Logos occupies the center of Clement's theological doctrine, he does not fail to pay attention to the mysterion, to the sacrament. In fact, Logos and mysterion are the two poles around which his Christology and ecclesiology move. Baptism to him is a rebirth and a regeneration. Adoption as children of God takes place in the sacrament of regeneration. Clement also uses the terms seal, illumination, bath, perfection and mystery for baptism.

St. Clement was interested in the Church sacraments, especially Baptism, as a new birth by which we receive Christ Himself in our lives and attain His knowledge. Baptism is called illumination, perfection, washing from our sins, and forgiveness of sins, etc. He speaks of baptism as a spiritual regeneration, enlightenment, adoption to the Father, immortality, remission of sins. Baptism imprints a seal, or stamp, which is in fact the Holy Spirit.

This is the one grace of illumination, that our characters are not the same as before our washing.

When we are baptized, we are enlightened

Being enlightened, we are adopted as sons.

Adopted as sons, we are made perfect.

Made perfect, we are become immortal.

"I say," he declares, "you are gods and sons all of the Most High."

This work is variously called grace, illumination, perfection, and washing. It is washing by which we are cleansed of sins; a gift of grace by which the punishments due our sins are remitted; an illumination by which we behold that holy light of salvation - that is, by which we see God clearly; and we call that perfection which leaves nothing lacking.

Indeed, if a man knows God, what more does he need? Certainly it were out of place to call that which is not complete a true gift of God's grace. Because God is perfect, the gifts He bestows are perfect.

St. Clement states, "Baptism is the blessed seal.". This seal, (Sphragis) makes us become God's, His own, for it was the custom, that a person seals his own precious possession by his seal. Also, it declares that we are God's sheep and soldiers, and are under His protection.

We, who are baptized, have wiped off the sins which obscure the light of the Divine Spirit, and have owned the eye of the Spirit: free, unimpeded, and full of light, by which, alone, we contemplated the Divine, the Holy Spirit, flowing down to us from above. This is the eternal adjustment of the vision, which is to be able to see the eternal light. Since things alike love each other, also that which is holy loves that from which holiness proceeds, which has appropriately been termed "light." "Once you were darkness, now you are light in the Lord," Eph. 5: 8... But he has not yet received, they say, the perfect gift ...

In baptism, by the divine Spirit, we get rid of sins which dim our eyes like a mist, and leave the eye of the spirit free and unhindered and enlightened. By this eye alone, we behold God, when the Holy Spirit pours into us from heaven .

In Baptism, the Holy Spirit grants believers spiritual rebirth and transforms them into members of the sacramental Body of Christ. Through this divine grace, the Spirit grants us "new life" in Christ, the resurrected life, the illumination of the soul and participation in the divine life.

We are washed from all our sins, and are no longer entangled in evil. This is the one grace of illumination, as our characters are not the same as before our washing... "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus" Gal. 3:26-28.

Even though a man receives nothing more than this rebirth, still, because he is by that fact enlightened, he is straightway rid of darkness.

According to the early Coptic rite of Baptism, the newly baptized person drank milk mixed with honey. St. Clement of Alexandria says that "honey" in this rite refers to attaining our Lord Jesus Christ who is sweet food to believers. Truly, in Baptism, the believer attains Christ by the Holy Spirit, Who fills our life with His heavenly joy.

 


4. the Eucharist

a. St. Clement saw the Eucharist as instrumental in the accomplishment of the task undertaken by the Logos of God to bestow on men immortality

There is a passage in Stromata. 7,3, which indicates that Clement did not believe in sacrifices:

"We rightly do not sacrifice to God, who, needing nothing, supplies all men with all things, but we glorify Him who gave Himself in sacrifice for us, we also sacrificing ourselves... for in our salvation alone God delights."

However, it would be incorrect to draw the conclusion from these words that St. Clement does not know the Eucharist as the sacrifice of the Church. Michael O' Carroll said that his writing on sacrifices, which he appears to reject, must be read in the context of his thinking on pagan and Jewish sacrifices. He knows such a ceremony very well. He mentions in Stromata 1,19, that there are heretical sects which substitute bread and water. He invokes a canon of the Church and of a celebration of the Eucharist. He condemns the use of water as being against this canon of the Church, which demands bread and wine, and he speaks of "Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who gave bread and wine, furnishing consecrated food for a type of the Eucharist." Thus he recognizes in the Eucharist a sacrifice, but he sees it also as the food for believers.

"Eat you of my flesh, and drink my blood" (John 5:53). Such is the suitable food which the Lord ministers, and He offers His flesh and pours forth His blood, and nothing is wanting for the children's' growth. O amazing mystery! We are enjoined to cast off the old and carnal corruption, as also the old nutriment, receiving in exchange another regimen, that of Christ, receiving Him if possible, to hide Him within; and that, enshrining the Savior in our souls, we may correct the affections of our flesh.

St. Clement goes on then to speak allegorically:

But you are not inclined to understand it thus, but perchance more generally. Hear it also in the following way. The flesh figuratively represents to us the Holy Spirit, for it was created by Him. The blood points out to us the Word, for as rich blood the Word has been infused into life; and the union of both is the Lord, the food of babes - the Lord who is Spirit and Word.

St. Clement distinguishes between the human and Eucharistic blood of Christ:

The blood of the Lord is twofold. For there is the blood of His flesh, by which we are redeemed from corruption; and the spiritual, by which we are anointed. And to drink the blood of Jesus, is to become partaker of the Lord's immortality; the Spirit being the energetic principle of the Word, as the blood is of the flesh. Accordingly, as wine is blended with water, so is the Spirit with man. And the one, the mixture of wine and water, nourishes to faith; while the other, the Spirit, conducts to immortality. And the mixture of both - of the drink and of the Word - is called Eucharist, renowned and glorious grace; and they who by faith partake of it are sanctified both in body and soul.

As wine is blended with water, so is the Spirit with man.

The union of both, that is, of the potion and the Word, is called the Eucharist, a gift worthy of praise and surprisingly fair; those who partake of it are sanctified in body and soul, for it is the will of the Father that man, a composite made by God, be united to the Spirit and to the Word. In fact, the Spirit is closely joined to the soul depending upon Him, and the flesh to the Word, because it was for it that 'the Word was made flesh' (John 1:4).

b. It seems that in the second century, the liturgy of the Eucharist started at the sunset of Saturday, or at the eve of the Sunday, celebrating the Vespers. The congregation spent all night singing hymns and celebrated the Eucharistic liturgy at dawn (1 Thess. 5:6-8), not for fear of the rulers or the pagan popular, but rather as a chance to meditate on the withdrawal of the soul from the body, or its departure from the night of this world to settle in the light of the Paradise.

But the variety of disposition arises from inordinate affection to material things. And for this reason, as they appear to me, to have called night Euphrone; since then the soul, released from the perceptions of sense, turns in on itself, and has a truer hold of intelligence (phronesis). Wherefore the mysteries are for the most part celebrated by night, indicating the withdrawal of the soul from the body, which takes place by night. "Let us not then sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that are drunken, are drunken in the night. But let us... be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love as the helmet of the hope of salvation" (1 Thess. 5:6-8).

c. St. Clement mentions the tradition of praying towards the East, as a symbol of our new birth, and our illumination by the sun of the righteousness.

Since the dawn is an image of the day of birth, and from that point the light which has shone forth at first from the darkness increases, there has also dawned on those involved in darkness a day of the knowledge of truth. In correspondence with the manner of the sun's rising, prayers are made looking towards the sunrise in the east.

d. According to St. Clement the Liturgy of the Eucharist is correlated with the sanctification of the Lord's day (Sunday), not only through worship but also through the pure spiritual conduct and the continuos contemplation on the heavens, hoping in participating in the glories of the resurrection.

He, in fulfillment of the precept, according to the Gospel, keeps the Lord's day, 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 by the application of his eyes; since he wishes to see and hear that alone which concerns him.

e. For participation in the celebration of the liturgy of the Eucharist, there are inner preparations together with that which touches the body. These inner preparations are attaining love and purity. He asks the believers to behave in their daily life in harmony with that inside the church.

So it is said that we ought to go washed to sacrifices and prayers, clean and bright; and that this external adornment and purification are practised for a sign. Now purity is to think holy thoughts. Further, there is the image of baptism, which also was handed down to the poets from Moses as follows: "And she having drawn water, and wearing on her body clean clothes"... It was a custom of the Jews to wash frequently after being in bed. It was then well said, "Be pure, not by washing of water, but in the mind." For sanctity, as I conceive it, is perfect pureness of mind, and deeds, and thoughts, and words too, and in its last degree sinlessness in dreams. And sufficient purification to a man, I reckon, is thorough and sure repentance.

f. The liturgy of the Eucharist is a participation with the heavenly creatures and the saints in giving hymns to God.

g. St. Clement allegorically interprets Ps. 150 which is used in the liturgy of the Eucharist, during receiving the Communion. He speaks of the risen Church as a musical instrument, on which the spirit play the symphony of love.

The Spirit, distinguishing from such revelry the divine service, sings, "Praise Him with the sound of trumpet; "for with the sound of trumpet He shall raise the dead.

"Praise Him on the psaltery;" for the tongue is the psaltery of the Lord.

"And praise Him on the lyre." By the lyre is meant the mouth struck by the Spirit, as it were by a plectrum.

"Praise with the timbrel and the dance," refers to the Church meditating on the resurrection of the dead in the resounding skin.

"Praise Him on the chords and organ." Our body He calls an organ, and its nerves are the strings, by which it has received harmonious tension, and when struck by the Spirit, it gives forth human voices.

"Praise Him on the clashing cymbals." He calls the tongue the cymbal of the mouth, which resounds with the pulsation of the lips. Therefore He cried to humanity,

"Let every breath praise the Lord," because He cares for every breathing thing which He has made.

h. St. Clement adds that the church does not use the musical instruments in his age, giving a reason, that these instruments were used by the nations in wars to incite hatred and in parties. He sees that our Lord Himself is the Instrument of our hymns, not only through the church worship but even through our daily life.

For man is truly a pacific instrument; while other instruments; if you investigate, you will find to be warlike, inflaming to lusts, or kindling up amours, or rousing wrath.

In their wars, therefore, the Etruscans use the trumpet, the Arcadians the pipe, the Sicilians the pectides, the Cretans the lyre, the Lacedaemonians the flute, the Thracians the horn, the Egyptians the drum, and the Arabians the cymbal.

The one instrument of peace, the Word alone by which we honor God, is what we employ.

We no longer employ the ancient psaltery, and trumpet, and timbrel and flute, which those expert in war and contemners of the fear of God were wont to make use of also in the choruses at their festive assemblies; that by such strains they might raise their dejected minds...

In the present instance He is a guest with us. For the apostle adds again, "Teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to God" (Col 3:16 ).And again, "What soever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and His Father" (Col. 3:17)· This is our thankful revelry. And even if you wish to sing and play to the harp or Lyre, there is no blame. You shall imitate the righteous Hebrew king in his thanksgiving to God. "Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous; praise is comely to the upright," says the prophecy (Ps 33:1-3). "Confess to the Lord on the harp; play to Him on the psaltery of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song." And does not the ten-stringed psaltery indicate the Lord Jesus, who is manifested by the element of the decade? [the word Jesus in Greek starts with the letter iota which resembles number 10.] And as it is befitting, before partaking of food, that we should bless the Creator of all; so also in drinking it is suitable to praise Him on partaking of His creatures. For the psalm is a melodious and sober blessing. The apostle calls the psalm "a spiritual song" (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16).

 


5. Priesthood

St. Clement composed a book of the bishops, priests, deacons and widows, beside his book the "Church order," which are lost. Undoubtedly these two works give an account of the church service, the liturgical prayers and the role of the clergymen and laymen in the church service. For this reason perhaps he does not write in details about these topics in his other works.

The hierarchy of the Church, consisting of the three grades, the episcopacy, the priesthood and the deaconate, is according to St. Clement an imitation of the hierarchy of the angels. . This order of the Priesthood (Bishops, Priests and Deacons) is not based only on distributing the responsibilities, but also on participating in serving the Lord Himself through which they attain heavenly glories.

Even here in the Church the gradations of bishops, presbyters, and deacons happen to be imitations, in my opinion, of the angelic glory and of that arrangement which, the Scriptures say, awaits those who have followed in the footsteps of the Apostles, and who have lived in perfect righteousness according to the Gospel. For these taken up in the clouds, the apostle writes, will first minister [as deacons], then be classed in the presbyterate, by promotion in glory (for glory differs from glory) till they grow into a "perfect man" Eph. 4:23.

The Priest must grow in spiritual knowledge to be equal with the angels. He should acknowledge that he has to learn while he is teaching others. All believers, clergymen and laymen, need to learn for their own progress. St. Clement says, "A multitude of other pieces of advice to particular persons is written in the holy books: some for presbyters, some for bishops and deacons; and others for widows, of whom we shall have opportunity to speak elsewhere."

As a priest, St. Clement was very cautious about his own salvation, reminding himself that he must not be proud of the glory of his priesthood, asserting that the real glory of the priest is realized through his illuminated life, and his behavior as an angel of God.

He, then, who has first moderated his passions and trained himself for impassability, and developed to the beneficence of Gnostic perfection, is here equal to the angels. Luminous already, and like the sun shining in the exercise of beneficence, he speeds by righteous knowledge through the love of God to the sacred abode, like the apostles. Not that they became apostles through being chosen for some distinguished peculiarity of nature, since also Judas as chosen along with them. But they were capable of becoming apostles on being chosen by Him who foresees even ultimate issues. Matthias, accordingly, who was not chosen along with them, on showing himself worthy of becoming an apostle, is substituted for Judas.

Those, then, also now, who have exercised themselves in the Lord's commandments, and lived perfectly and Gnostically according to the Gospel, may be enrolled in the chosen body of the apostles. Such an one is in reality a presbyter of the Church, and a true minister (deacon) of the will of God, if he do and teach what is the Lord's; not as being ordained by men, nor regarded righteous because he is a presbyter, but enrolled in the presyterate because he is righteous. And although here upon earth he be not honored with the chief seat (Mark 12:39; Luke 20:46), he will sit down on the four and twenty thrones, judging the people, as John says in the Apocalypse (Rev. 4:4; 11:6).

 

GENERAL PRIESTHOOD

St. Clement distinguishes between the priesthood of the gnostic priesthood and the priesthood based on ordination. He states that the pious and righteous Gnostics who teach and do God’s will are its true priests and deacons, even if they have never been promoted to such office on earth. The gnostic is a priest not by reason of ordination but by reason of virtue.

But now, those who have exercised themselves in the Lord's commandments, and lived perfectly and Gnostically according to the gospel, may also be enrolled in the chosen body of the apostles. For what actually makes such a person a presbyter is not that he does and teaches the Lord's work because of being ordained by men, nor is it that he is considered to be righteous because he is a presbyter; but rather, such a person is enrolled in the presbyterate because he is righteous. And even though here on earth he should not be honored with the chief seat (cf. Mark 12:39), he will sit down on the twenty-four thrones (Rev 4:4 11:16; cf. Matt 19:28 par), judging the people, as John says in the Apocalypse...

 


6. marriage

St. Clement of Alexandria defended Christian marriage, as a type of the church. He considered the marital lodging as the place where the Lord is in the midst, and defended the equality between husband and wife. St. Clement of Alexandria states that the domestic church is constituted by the same Spirit Who constitutes the Universal Church. He grants power to the members of the family to witness to evangelic life through their love and unity in Christ.

His teaching on marriage is found mainly in Paidagogos and the Stromata. At the end of the second book of his Stromata, he gives a short survey of what pagan philosophers thought of marriage. The bulk of St. Clement's discussion of marriage is found in the third book of Stromata, which is devoted to refuting the Gnostic and Encratite rejection of marriage, partly on the basis of Genesis 1:28, and partly on more secular and philosophical grounds, namely the maintenance of one's country and the perfection of one's self and the world.

Tatian, a former pupil of the apologist Justin, stood at the head of a long line of Christians who were called "Encratites" (the "Chaste Ones," from the Greek word enkrateia, meaning "chastity" or "self-control"). The Encratites interpreted the stories about Adam and Eve in the opening chapters of Genesis as an account of the fall of humanity from a pristine, Spirit-filled existence into the sinful, mortal condition now epitomized by human sexuality. Only by rejecting marital intercourse and procreation, the Encratites taught, could people be restored to their original, spiritual condition intended by God the Creator.

St. Clement's defense is based on the following points

a. His theological starting point is the doctrine of creation. Those who reject marriage, he argues, "blaspheme both the creation and the holy Creator, the Almighty and Only God." Encratites, who claim to be already living the resurrected life by repudiating marriage, ought logically to stop eating and drinking as well, St. Clement maintains, since these bodily functions will also be obsolete in the next life. Marriage is good for it is the invention of the one good God, the Creator. He said, "If marriage according to the law is sin, I do not know how anyone can say he knows God when he asserts that the command of God is sin. If the law is holy, marriage is holy." For Clement, those who consider the lower parts of man's body as indicating inferior workmanship that cause sexual impulses "fail to observe that the upper parts also want food and in some men are lustful."

b. St. Clement believes that the best text blessing marriage is the saying of the Lord, "Where two or three are gathered together for my sake, there I am in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20). St. Clement believes in the church home, saying, "Who are the two or three gathered in the name of Christ in whose midst the Lord is (Matt. 18:20)? Does He not by the "three" mean husband, wife, and child?"

c. St. Clement declares clearly that "marriage is cooperation with the work of God's creation." He insists that marriage and procreation are an intrinsic and positive part of God's plan for the human race. He frequently cites Gen. 1:28 "Increase and multiply" and regards human procreation as an act of co-creation with God: "In this way the human being becomes the image of God, by cooperating in the creation of another human being." Echoing Musonius Rufus, St. Clement also maintains that marriage serves a civic function:

By all means, then, we must marry, both for the sake of our country and for the succession of children and for the completion of the world... For if people do not marry and produce children, they contribute to the scarcity of human beings and destroy both the cities and the world that is composed of them.

The purpose of intercourse is to produce children and the ultimate aim is to produce good children. In a similar manner, the farmer sows seed with the aim of producing food, intending ultimately to harvest the fruit. But far superior is the farmer who sows in living soil. The one farms with the aim of producing temporary sustenance, the other does so to provide for the continuance of the entire universe. The one plants solely for himself; the other does so for God, since God himself said, Multiply [Gen. 1:28], and we must obey. In this way the human being becomes the image of God, by cooperating in the creation of another human being.

Nature treats legitimate marriages as it does eating and drinking: it allows whatever is appropriate, useful, and dignified, and it urges us to desire to produce children. But those who indulge in excess violate the laws of nature and harm themselves in illegitimate unions. Above all, it is never right to have intercourse with young boys as if they were girls. That is why the philosopher, following Moses' lead, said: "Do not sow seed on rocks and stones because it will never take root and achieve the fruitfulness that is its nature."

Appealing to the married saints of the Old Testament and to the married apostles of the New Testament, St. Clement argues that there is no incompatibility between the practice of the self-controlled marriage and a life of service in the church. Both celibacy and marriage offer distinctive forms of service (leitourgia) and ministry (diakonia) to the Lord. Indeed, Clement is even capable of regarding marriage as, in some respects, superior to celibacy. The celibate who is concerned only for his salvation is "in most respects untried." By contrast, the married man who must devote himself to the administration of his household is a more faithful reflection of God's own providential care.

"Children are a man's glory after his death, just as corks hold up the net, saving the fishing lines from the deep," according to the tragic poet Sophocles cf. Aeschylus. Lawmakers do not entrust the highest offices to unmarried men. For example, a Spartan lawmaker established a penalty not only for failure to marry, but also for unlawful marriages, late marriages, and the single life. The noble Plato orders the unmarried man to pay into the public treasury the cost of a wife's maintenance and to give to the magistrates the appropriate expenses. For if people do not marry and produce children, they contribute to the scarcity of human beings and destroy both the cities and the world that is composed of them.

He gives the title of Antichrist to those who "under a pious cloak blaspheme by their continence both the creation and the holy Creator... and teach that one must reject marriage and begetting of children, and should not bring others in their place to live in this wretched world." He assaults the sexual permissiveness of Carpocrates (and Epiphanes) who taught that wives should be "common property." About the Carpocratians he cries, "these thrice wretched men treat carnal and sexual intercourse as a sacred religious mystery, and think that it will bring them to the kingdom of God." Thus he confirms the Christian tradition that marriage is good, and the physical relationship is to be kept within marriage.

Some openly declare that marriage is fornication and teach that is was introduced by the devil. They boast that they are imitating the Lord himself who neither married nor possessed anything in the world, and they claim to understand the gospel better than anyone else. To them Scripture says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (Jas. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5). Moreover, they do not know the reason why the Lord did not marry. First, he had his own bride, the church; second, he was no ordinary man who had need of a helpmate after the flesh (cf. Gen. 2:18). Nor did he need to beget children, since he lives eternally and was born the only Son of God. The Lord himself says: What God has joined together, man must not separate (Matt. 19:6). And again: As it was in the days of Noah, they were marrying and giving in marriage, building and planting, and as it was in the days of Lot, so will be the coming of the Son of Man (Matt. 24:37-39).

If, however, marriage, though commanded by the Law, were yet sinful - really, I do not see how anyone could say that he knows God and yet say that sin has been commanded by God. If the Law is sacred, then marriage is a holy estate.

 

I. Marriage and co-operation

The loving care of a wife and the depth of her faithfulness exceed the endurance of all other relatives and friends, just as she surpasses them in sympathy. Above all, she prefers to be always at his side and truly she is, as Scripture says, a necessary help (Gen. 2:18).

Now marriage is a help, especially to those who are advanced in years, when it provides a caring spouse and produces children by her to nourish one's old age.

The marriage of some people is an agreement to indulge in pleasure, but the marriage of philosophers leads to a harmony that is in accordance with reason. In such a marriage wives are ordered to adorn themselves not in outward appearance, but in character; husbands are commanded not to use their wives like mistresses, with the aim of indulging bodily wantonness, but rather to preserve marriage as a help for their whole life and as an occasion for the highest form of self-restraint.

 

II. Marriage and pleasures of love

Wise, then, was the person who, when asked his opinion of the pleasures of love, replied: "Silence, man, I am very glad to have fled from them as from a fierce and raging tyrant." Nevertheless, marriage should be accepted and given its proper place. Our Lord wanted humanity to multiply [Gen. 1:28], but he did not say that people should engage in licentious behavior, nor did he intend for them to give themselves over to pleasure as if they were born for rutting. Rather, let the Pedagogue put us to shame with the words of Ezekiel: Put away your fornication [cf. Ezek. 43:9]. Even irrational animals have a proper time for sowing seed.

But to have intercourse without intending children is to violate nature, which we must take as our teacher. We should observe the wise precepts that her pedagogy has established concerning the proper time, by which I mean old age and childhood; the young are not permitted to marry, the old are no longer permitted to do so. Otherwise, one may marry at any time. So marriage is the desire (orexis) for procreation, but it is not the random, illicit, or irrational scattering of seed.

We must, then keep marriage pure and free of all defilement, as if it were a sacred offering, as we rise from our sleep with the Lord and go to sleep with thanksgiving and prayer, "both when we lay down to sleep and when the holy light comes." Let us bear witness to the Lord with the whole of our lives, preserving piety in our soul and exercising control over the body. It truly pleases God when we extend good conduct from our lips to our actions, for shameful speech leads to shamefulness, and both end up in shameful behavior. Scripture recommends marriage and does not allow release from the union; this is evident from the precept: You shall not put away your wife, except because of fornication (Matt. 5:32). It is regarded as adultery if either of the separated partners marries, while the other is alive.

The human ideal of self-control (enkrateia), I mean the one found among the Greek philosophers, consists in struggling against lust (epithymia), and in not yielding to it so as to manifest its deeds. But among us self-control means not to experience lust at all. Our aim is not merely to be self-controlled while still experiencing lust in the heart, but rather to be self-controlled even over lust itself. But this kind of self-control is attained only by the grace of God. That is why he said: Ask and it will be given to you [Matt. 7:7]. Moses received this grace, even though he was clothed in the needy body, so that for forty days he felt neither thirst nor hunger [cf. Exod 24:18]...

In general, then, let this be our position regarding marriage, food, and other matters: to do nothing out of lust, but to wish only for those things that are necessary. For we are children not of lust, but of the will [cf. John 1:13]. The married man must exercise self-control in procreation, so that he does not feel lust for his wife, whom he must love, while he produces children by a holy and chaste will.

 

III. sexual relations

St. Clement held the belief that sexual relations are to be avoided. He held that the Apostles lived with their wives as "sisters;" so living with one's wife as with a sister is a realization of the resurrection state on earth. In Clement's view, the difference between the pagan ideal of self-control and the Christian ideal is that, while the pagan ascetic feels desire and does not give in to it, the Christian does not feel any desire at all. St. Clement sees that the uncleanness of marital intercourse needed every time the ceremonial washing such as that prescribed in Leviticus (15:18), but the Christians are cleansed once and for all by their baptism for every such occasion.

In fact, he does not completely condemn sex but he restricts it to the purpose of reproduction. He warns of the danger of allowing family ties to override the duties connected with the Christian profession. Thus marriage is holy because "the seed of the sanctified is holy."

He also says,

But those who are permitted to marry have need of the Pedagogue, so that they might not fulfill the mystic rites of nature during the day, nor have intercourse after coming home from church or from the marketplace or early in the morning like a rooster, for these are the proper times for prayer and reading and the other deeds done during the day. But the evening is the proper time to take one's rest, after dinner and after giving thanks for the benefits one has enjoyed.

It is absolutely impossible for a man to be considered dignified by his wife, if he does not show any sign of dignity during the pleasures of intercourse. The good feeling that admittedly accompanies intercourse blossoms only for a short time and grows old along with the body. But sometimes it happens that it grows old even before the body, and desire is extinguished; this occurs when marital chastity has been violated by pleasure taken with prostitutes. The hearts of lovers have wings, and charms are quenched by a change of mind. Love frequently changes into hate if there are too many reasons for condemnation.

Now even though this is the case, they should still consider it shameful if the human person, created by God, should show less restraint than the irrational beasts who do not mate with many partners indiscriminately, but with one of the same species, as do pigeons, ring-doves, and turtledoves, and animals such as these.

St. Clement rejects marital intercourse during pregnancy or the menstrual period because it involves the illegitimate wasting of seed. Like contemporary medical writers (e.g., Galen), St. Clement seems to have regarded the loss of semen during ejaculation as a drain of the body's vital energy.

St. Clement condemned homosexuality, saying,

The Logos has proclaimed this loudly and clearly through Moses: Do not lie with a male as with a female, for it is an abomination (Lev. 18:22). When the noble Plato recommended that "you shall abstain from every female field that is not your own," he derived this from his reading of the biblical injunction: You must not lie with your neighbor's wife and defile yourself with her (Lev. 18:20). "There should be no sowing of sterile, bastard seed with concubines." Do not sow "where you do not wish the seed to grow." "Do not touch anyone except your own wedded wife." Only with a wife are you permitted to enjoy physical pleasure for the purpose of producing descendants, for this is all that the Logos allows. We who have a share in the divine work of creation must not scatter seed randomly, nor should we act disrespectfully or sow what cannot grow.

 

IV. No divorce except for reason of adultery

That Scripture counsels marriage, however, and never allows any release from the union, is expressly contained in the law: "You shall not divorce a wife, except for reason of immorality" (Matt. 5:32; 19:9). And it regards as adultery the marriage of a spouse, while the one from whom a separation was made is still alive...

"Whoever takes a divorced woman as wife commits adultery" (Ibid., also Luke 16:18, it says; for "if anyone divorce his wife, he debauches her" (Mark 10:11), that is, he compels her to commit adultery. And not only does he that divorces her become the cause of this, but also he that takes the woman and gives her the opportunity of sinning; for if he did not take her, she would return to her husband.

To that woman marriage was a misfortune. To fall under the sway of the passions, then, and to yield to them is the ultimate slavery; similarly, to keep the passions under control is the only true freedom. The divine Scripture, therefore, says that those who have violated the commandments are sold to strangers, that is, to sins that are alien to nature, until they turn around and repent [cf. Judge. 2:14].

Most people know nothing of continence and live for the body, not for the spirit. But the body without the spirit is earth and ashes [Gen. 18:27]. Now the Lord condemns adultery even in thought [cf. Matt. 5:28].

It is proper that not only our spirit be made holy, but also our behavior, our way of life, and our body.

 

V. Marriage and Celibacy

Parenthood, St. Clement writes, is co-operation with the Creator, and (according to some passages) it is wrong to regard celibacy as inherently more spiritual than the married state. Sometimes St. Clement regards virginity is better than marriage, and in other texts he regards the married state as superior to virginity, as he said, "The children of this world marry and are given in marriage' (Cf. Matt. 24:38), but if we renounce the deeds of the flesh and clothe this pure flesh with incorruption, we are living a life like that of the angels.

Although virginity ordered toward salvation, still, one who bears up well under the superior trials and temptations of the married state may yet surpass one who leads the more or less carefree life of a celibate.

And one is not really shown to be a man in the choice of a single life; but he surpasses men, who, without pleasure or pain, has disciplined himself by marriage, by the begetting of children, and by care for the household; who, in his solicitude for the household, has been inseparable from God's love; and who has withstood every temptation arising through children and wife or through domestics and possessions.

He, however, who is without a family, for the most part escapes temptation. Caring, then, for himself alone, he is surpassed by one who is inferior to him in what pertains to his own salvation, but is superior to him in the conduct of life.

Believing that the married and unmarried states are alike gifts of God "Both celibacy and marriage have their own different forms of service and ministry to the Lord," he puts his concept as such: "Our views is that we welcome as blessed the state of abstinence from marriage in those to whom this has been granted by God; and admire monogamy and the high standing of single marriage."

Whether one chooses to be celibate or to marry for the sake of procreation, one must remain unyielding to what is inferior. If a person can endure such a life, he will acquire for himself greater merit with God, since he practices self-control in a manner that is both pure and rational. But if he has gone too far in choosing the rule for the greater glory, he may fall short of his hope. Just like celibacy, marriage has its own distinctive services and ministries for the Lord; I refer to the care of one's children and wife. The special characteristic of the marital union, it seems, is that it gives the person who is committed to a perfect marriage the opportunity to show concern for everything that pertains to the household he shares with his wife.

St. Clement said that the unmarried man is inferior to the married because he has fewer opportunities of self-denial, while the married man "shows himself inseparable from the love of God, and rises superior to every temptation which assails him through children and wife and servants and possessions." He also said that men who chose to marry must acknowledge the suitable time and suitable wife.

For it is not necessary that everyone should marry, nor at all times, but there is a time when it is appropriate, and a person with whom it is appropriate, and a time up to which it is appropriate to marry. It is not suitable for just anyone to marry just anyone else at any time, nor in some utterly random way. But a person must be in a certain condition, and he must marry an appropriate person at an appropriate time for the sake of children. The partner should be similar in all respects, and she should not be compelled by force to submit to the man who loves her.

VI. Mutual respect and love in the church home

The crown of the woman must be considered the husband' (Prov. 12:4), and the crown of the husband is his marriage; for both, the flower of their union is the child who is indeed the flower that the divine Cultivator culls from the meadow of the flesh. 'The crown of old men is their children's children and the glory of children is their father' (Prov. 17:6), it is said. Our glory is the Father of all, and the crown of the whole Church is Christ.

The hearts of lovers have wings, affection can be quenched by a change of heart, and love can turn into hate if there creep in too many grounds for loss of respect.