Tracts for the Times/Record XVI

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Tracts for the Times
Record XVI
by Clement of Alexandria, translated by Tractarian Movement

Publication dated June 29, 1834.

1361413Tracts for the Times — Record XVIClement of Alexandria
(Ad Scholas.)
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No. XVI.


Address of St. Clement of Alexandria to the heathen.

The Holy Spirit says, "Despise not thou, my son, the training of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him." What surpassing condescension! How gently does He deal with us; not as a teacher with his disciples, nor as a master with his servants, nor as a God towards His creatures, but as a father instructs his sons! Moses confessed that he exceedingly feared and quaked when he heard concerning the word of God; but thou, who hearest that Word Himself, hast thou no dread, no distress of mind? no reverence, and earnestness withal to learn the truth? earnestness for salvation, fear of his wrath, delight in his promises, anxiety for acceptance, to rescue thee from condemnation? Come ye, O come, my band of young ones! Young ones, I say, for unless ye be born again as children, regenerated, as Scripture says, ye will not receive Him who is your own Father, nor will ever at any time gain entrance into the kingdom of heaven. To a stranger this is impossible; but when he has been enrolled by name and made a citizen, and submits to a new Father, then shall he be in the number of that Father's sons; then shall he be thought worthy of the inheritance. Thus is formed the first begotten Church, being made up of many holy children. These are "the first-born, whose names are written in heaven," who hold their "general assembly" with "an innumerable company of angels." Such are we, the nurslings of our God, true "friends" by kindred of the First-Begotten, as being the first of all men, to have discerned Almighty God, saved ourselves from sin, and abjured the Devil.…

This is his sole work, to save man. Therefore he cries aloud, as urging us himself, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." He converts men by means of fear. His apostle, in like manner, exhorting the Philippians, takes up his holy tidings, and repeats them. "The Lord is at hand," he says, "see well that we be not found wanting." But, alas! ye are all so fearless, nay, unbelieving, that ye listen neither to the Lord, nor to holy Paul, though he prays you in Christ's stead to taste and see that Christ is God. It is faith that must bring you in, experience must teach you, and the Scripture must lead you on in knowledge, according to its word: "Come, ye children, hearken to me; and I will teach you the fear of the Lord." Then it briefly addresses those who have already believed: "What man is there who lusteth to live, who would fain see good days?" We make answer. It is we; who worship him who is our happiness, and who copy those who are like him. Hear, then, both ye who afar off, and ye who are nigh. The word is hid from no one; it is a light in common; it lighteth every man; in it there is no darkness. Let us hasten to our salvation, even to our regeneration, so that, many though we be, we may be brought close together by one love, according to that oneness which the one God imparts. Let us hasten, as having received a benefit; as seeking out our sole happiness. Let us follow after unity, till from many voices, loud and scattered to and fro, one divine harmony arises, led by one guide and teacher, the Divine Word, finding rest and fulness in the truth itself, and saying, Abba Father.

"Ye who thirst, come ye to the water," says the Lord; "all ye that have no silver, come and buy, yea, drink without silver." Thus does he exhort men to the holy bath, to their salvation, to their illumination, almost crying out to them, "Child, I give unto thee earth, and sea, and heaven; yea, all that is therein, I freely grant to thee: only, O my child, thirst for thy Father's presence. God will reveal himself to thee without price; truth is not dealt out as by a trader. He gives thee all things that fly, and swim, and walk the earth; all these things has thy Father framed for thy enjoyment, so take and be thankful. Those who are but spurious born are forced to buy their possessions with silver; sons of perdition, willing slaves of mammon. But into thine hands he gives thine own." Thus speaks he to his true seed, to him who loves his Father, for whose sake he worketh still, to whom alone he pledges, that the earth shall be given as a lasting foundation, which is not promised to corruption: "For mine is all the earth;" it is thine, if thou receive thy God; and therefore Scripture proclaims as good tidings, to those who have believed, "The saints of the Lord shall inherit the glory of God, and his power."

"Hope in him," it is written, "all the assembly of the people; pour out your heart before him." He speaks to those who have newly turned from wickedness. He pities and fills them with righteousness. Trust, O mortal, in him who is both God and man; who suffered and is worshipped, even a living God. Ye servants, put your trust in him who was dead; yea, all men, trust in him who out of all men alone is God. Believe and receive salvation as your reward; seek out God, and your soul shall live. . . . . The most sublime philosophers could but guess, and speak darkly about wisdom, but the disciples of Christ have seen and proclaimed it. Nay, and Christ in all portions of him (so to say) is one and the same undivided; so that there is neither barbarian, Jew, nor Greek, male, nor female, but one new man refashioned by the Holy Ghost. . . . . I do but ask you to accept salvation. What does Christ desire, but freely to give you life? But who is he? The Word of truth, the builder of the inward temple, that God may dwell with men. Sanctify that temple; pleasures and comforts, leave them, as flowers of the day, to the wind, and to the fire. . . . . The Word of God shall guide thee, and the Holy Spirit settle thee in the peaceful dwelling of the heavens. There thou shalt enjoy the presence of the Christian's God, and be initiated in his holy mysteries. Come, O heathen reveller, lean not on thy thyrsus[1], bind not on thine ivy. Cast away thy turban, and thy fawnskin; put off folly. I will show to thee the Word of God, and his mysteries, accommodating my account to thine own fashions. Here is the mount, beloved of God, not the scene of tragic miseries, as Cithæron[2] but a stage for truth to act upon, a holy mount, overshadowed with chaste and temperate groves. No Bacchantes revel here, with cruel rites, but the daughters of God hold festival, the pure, the gracious, divine songstresses of the awful mysteries of the Word, with their modest band of worshippers. That band are the just ones: the song is a hymn in honour of the Almighty King. Virgins are singing it, angels are heralding it, prophets are repeating it. The chant sounds abroad; those who are called hurry to the gathering, they hasten on, desiring to regain their Father. Thou, too, aged one, thou too must join us, leaving thy Thebes, abjuring thy sooth-saying; put out thy hand, and let us lead thee to the truth. Hasten, O Tiresias[3], believe. He shall shine upon thy blind eyes more cheerily than the sun, through whom the eyes of the blind see. O mysteries of truest holiness! O unsullied Light! The sacred torches go before me, while I am brought into the presence of the heavens and God himself; my initiation places me among the holy ones. The Lord instructs me in his sacred rites; he seals his teachers with his illuminating guidance, and delivers over such as trust him to his Father, to be preserved for ever. He is everlasting, Jesus the one Saviour, the Great High Priest of the one God his Father, who intercedes for men, and who is their teacher.

The Feast of St. Peter.

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  1. A spear, or staff, surrounded with garlands of ivy and vine leaves, carried by the heathen revellers.
  2. A mountain where the heathen revels were held.
  3. A heathen prophet.