The Pseudo-Clementine Letters
Second Letter of Clement
It is hard to determine the original place, date, and author of this text. The style of the homily is poor, full of connectives, linking unconnected ideas; its thought is feeble, its arrangement confused. John Lightfoot dated it within the 2nd century, and gave this assessment: "As the earliest example of its kind, and the product of an important age of which we possess only the scantiest remains, it has the highest value. Nor will its intellectual poverty blind us to its true grandeur, as an example of the moral earnestness and the triumphant faith which subdued a reluctant world, and laid it at the foot of the cross."
Repentance and good works seem to be its major values. The Church is pre-existent; the kingdom of God is in the future; no worth is attributed to this world or to our present life in it. The principal argument for standing firm in faith is its fruit in the next life. The hints about public worship agree with the famous description of Justin Martyr, and there are signs that his robust freedom of exhortation had not yet disappeared.
Brethren, it is fitting that you should think of Jesus Christ as of God, - as the Judge of the living and the dead. And it does not become us to think lightly of our salvation; for if we think little of him, we shall also hope but to obtain little from him. And those of us who hear carelessly of these things, as if they were of small importance, commit sin, not knowing whence we have been called, and by whom, and to what place, and how much Jesus Christ submitted to suffer for our sakes.
What return, then, shall we make to him? or what fruit that shall be worthy of that which he has given to us? For, indeed, how great are the benefits which we owe to him! he has graciously given us light; as a Father, he has called us sons; he has saved us when we were ready to perish. What praise, then, shall we give to him, or what return shall we make for the things which we have received? We were deficient in understanding, worshipping stones and wood, and gold, and silver, and brass, the works of men's hand; and our whole life was nothing else than death. Involved in blindness, and with such darkness before our eyes, we have received sight, and through his will have laid aside that cloud by which we were enveloped.
For he had compassion on us, and mercifully saved us, observing the many errors in which we were entangled, as well as the destruction to which we were exposed, and that we had no hope of salvation except it came to us from him. For he called us when we were not, and willed that out of nothing we should attain a real existence.
"Rejoice, you barren that bear not; break forth and cry, you that travailnot; for she that is desolate has many more children than she that has an husband." In that he said, "Rejoice, you barren that bearnot," he referred to us, for our Church was barren before that children were given to her. But when he said, "Cry out, you that travailnot," he means this, that we should sincerely offer up our prayers to God, and should not, like women in travail, show signs of weakness.
When he says, "For she that is desolate has many more children than she that has an husband," he means that our people seemed to be outcast from God, but now, through believing, have become more numerous than those who are reckoned to possess God. And another Scripture says, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." This means that those who are perishing must be saved. For it is indeed a great and admirable thing to establish, not the things which are standing, but these that are falling. Thus also did Christ desire to save the things which were perishing, and has saved many by coming and calling us when hastening to destruction.
Since, then, he has displayed so great mercy towards us, and especially in this respect, that we who are living should not offer sacrifices to gods that are dead, or pay them worship, but should attain through him to the knowledge of the true Father, whereby shall we show that we do indeed know him, but by not denying him through whom this knowledge has been attained? For he himself declares, "Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father." This, then, is our reward if we shall confess him by whom we have been saved. But in what way shall we confess him? By doing what he says, and not transgressing his commandments, and by honouring him not with our lips only, but with all our heart and all our mind. For he says in Isaiah, "This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me."
Let us, then, not only call him Lord, for that will not save us. For he says, "Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall be saved, but he that works righteousness." Therefore, brethren, let us confess him by our works, by loving one another, by not committing adultery, or speaking evil of one another, or cherishing envy; but being continent, compassionate, and good. We ought also to sympathize with one another, and not be avaricious. By such works let us confess him, and not by those that are of an opposite kind. And it is not fitting that we should fear men, but rather God. For this reason, if we should do such wicked things, the Lord has said, "Even though you were gathered together to me in my very bosom, yet if you were not to keep my commandments, I would cast you off, and say to you, Depart from me; I know you not whence you are, you workers of iniquity."
Therefore, brethren, leaving willingly our sojourn in this present world, let us do the will of him that called us, and not fear to depart out of this world. For the Lord says, "You shall be as lambs in the midst of wolves." And Peter answered and said to him, "What, then, if the wolves shall tear in pieces the lambs?" Jesus said to Peter, "The lambs have no cause after they are dead to fear the wolves; and in the same way, fear not you those who kill you, and can do nothing more to you; but fear him who, after you are dead, has power over both soul and body to cast them into hell-fire." And consider, brethren, that the sojourning in the flesh in this world is but brief and transient, but the promise of Christ is great and wonderful, even the rest of the kingdom to come, and of life everlasting. By what course of conduct, then, shall we attain these things, but by leading a holy and righteous life, and by deeming these worldly things as not belonging to us, and not fixing our desires on them? For if we desire to possess them, we fall away from the path of righteousness.
Now the Lord declares, "No servant can serve two masters." If we desire, then, to Serve both God and mammon, it will be unprofitable for us. "For what will it profit if a man gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" This world and the next are two enemies. The one urges to adultery and corruption, avarice and deceit; the other bids farewell to these things. We cannot therefore be the friends of both; and we ought, by renouncing the one, to make sure of the other. Let us reckon that it is better to hate the things present, since they are trifling, and transient, and corruptible; and to love those which are to come, as being good and incorruptible. For if we do the will of Christ, we shall find rest; otherwise, nothing shall deliver us from eternal punishment, if we disobey his commandments. For thus also says the Scripture in Ezekiel, "If Noah, Job, and Daniel should rise up, they should not deliver their children in captivity." Now, if men so eminently righteous are not able by their righteousness to deliver their children, how can we hope to enter into the royal residence of God unless we keep our baptism holy and undefiled? Or who shall be our advocate, unless we be found possessed of works of holiness and righteousness?
Therefore, then, my brethren, let us struggle with all earnestness, knowing that the contest is in our case close at hand, and that many undertake long voyages to strive for a corruptible reward; yet all are not crowned, but those only that have laboured hard and striven gloriously, Let us therefore so strive, that we may all be crowned, Let us run the straight course, even the race that is incorruptible; and let us in great numbers set out for it, and strive that we may be crowned, And should we not all be able to obtain the crown, let us at least come near to it, we must remember that he who strives in the corruptible contest, if he be found acting unfairly, is taken away and scourged, and cast forth from the lists. What then do you think? If one does anything improper in the incorruptible contest, what shall he have to bear? For of those who do not preserve the seal" unbroken, the Scripture says, "Their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be a spectacle to all flesh."
As long, therefore, as we are on earth, let us practice repentance, for we are as clay in the hand of the artificer. For as the potter, if he make a vessel, and it be distorted or broken in his hands, fashions it over again; but if he have before this cast it into the furnace of fire, can no longer find any help for it: so let us also, while we are in this world, repent with our whole heart of the evil deeds we have done in the flesh, that we may be saved by the Lord, while we have yet an opportunity of repentance. For after we have gone out of the world, no further power of confessing or repenting will there belong to us. Therefore, brethren, by doing the will of the Father, and keeping the flesh holy, and observing the commandments of the Lord, we shall obtain eternal life. For the Lord says in the Gospel, "If you have not kept that which was small, who will commit to you the great? For I say to you, that he that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much." This, then, is what he means: "Keep the flesh holy and the seal undefiled, that you may receive eternal life."
And let no one of you say that this very flesh shall not be judged, nor rise again. Just think in what state you were saved, in what you received sight, if not while you were in this flesh. We must therefore preserve the flesh as the temple of God. For as you were called in the flesh, you shall also come to be judged in the flesh. As Christ the Lord who saved us, though he was first a Spirit, became flesh, and thus called us, so shall we also receive the reward in this flesh. Let us therefore love one another, that we may all attain to the kingdom of God. While we have an opportunity of being healed, let us yield ourselves to God that heals us, and give to him a recompense. Of what sort? Repentance out of a sincere heart; for he knows all things beforehand, and is acquainted with what is in our hearts. Let us therefore give him praise, not with the mouth only, but also with the heart, that he may accept us as sons. For the Lord has said, "Those are my brethren who do the will of my Father."
Therefore, my brethren, let us do the will of the Father who called us, that we may live; and let us earnestly follow after virtue, but forsake every wicked tendency which would lead into transgression; and flee from ungodliness, in case evils overtake us. For if we are diligent in doing good, peace will follow us. On this account, such men cannot find it, that is, peace, as are influenced by human terrors, and prefer rather present enjoyment to the promise which shall afterwards be fulfilled. For they do not know what torment present enjoyment incurs, or what happiness is involved in the future promise. And if, indeed, they themselves only did such things, it would be the more tolerable; but now they persist in imbuing innocent souls with their pernicious doctrines, not knowing that they shall receive a double condemnation, both they and those that hear them.
Let us therefore serve God with a pure heart, and we shall be righteous; but if we do not serve him, because we believe not the promise of God, we shall be miserable. For the prophetic word also declares, "Wretched are those of a double mind, and who doubt in their heart, who say, All these things have we heard even in the times of our fathers; but though we have waited day by day, we have seen none of them accomplished. You fools! compare yourselves to a tree; take, for instance, the vine. First of all it sheds its leaves, then the bud appears; after that the sour grape, and then the fully-ripened fruit. So, likewise, my people have borne disturbances and afflictions, but afterwards shall they receive their good things." Therefore, my brethren, let us not be of a double mind, but let us hope and endure, that we also may obtain the reward. For he is faithful who has promised that he will bestow on everyone a reward according to his works. If, therefore, we shall do righteousness in the sight of God, we shall enter into his kingdom, and shall receive the promises, "Which ear has not heard, nor eye seen, neither have entered into the heart of man."
Let us expect, therefore, hour by hour, the kingdom of God in love and righteousness, since we do not know the day of the appearing of God. For the Lord himself, being asked by one when his kingdom would come, replied, "When two shall be one, and that which is without as that which is within, and the male with the female, neither male nor female." Now, two are one when we speak the truth one to another, and there is unfeignedly one soul in two bodies. And "that which is without as that which is within" means this: he calls the soul "that which is within," and the body "that which is without." As, then, your body is visible to sight, so also let your soul be manifest by good works. And "the male with the female, neither male nor female," this means, that a brother seeing a sister should think nothing about her as of a female, nor she think anything about him as of a male. If you do these things, he says, the kingdom of my Father shall come.
Therefore, brethren, let us now at length repent; let us be sober to what is good; for we are full of much folly and wickedness. Let us blot out from us our former sins, and repenting from the soul let us be saved; and let us not become men-pleasers, nor let us desire to please only one another, but also the men that are without, by our righteousness, that the Name be not blasphemed on account of us. For the Lord also says "Continually my name is blasphemed among all the Gentiles," and again, "Woe to him on account of whom my name is blasphemed." In which is it blasphemed? In your not doing what I desire. For the Gentiles, when they hear from our mouth the oracles of God, marvel at them as beautiful and great; afterwards, when they have learned that our works are not worthy of the words we speak, they then turn themselves to blasphemy, saying that it is some fable and delusion. For when they hear from us that God says, "What thanks to you, if you love those who love you; but rather, thanks to you, if you love your enemies and those who hate you;" when they hear these things, they marvel at the excellency of the goodness; but when they see that we not only do not love those who hate us, but not even those who love us, they laugh us to scorn, and the Name is blasphemed.
Therefore, brethren, if we do the will of God our Father, we shall be of the first Church, that is, spiritual, that has been created before the sun and moon; but if we do not the will of the Lord, we shall be of the scripture that says, "My house was made a den of robbers." So then let us choose to be of the Church of life, that we may be saved. I do not, however, do you suppose are ignorant that the living Church is the body of Christ; for the Scripture says, "God made man, male and female." The male is Christ, the female is the Church. And the books and the Apostles plainly declare that the Church is not of the present, but from the beginning. For she was spiritual, as our Jesus also was, but was manifested In the last days that he might save us. Now the Church, being spiritual, was manifested in the flesh of Christ, thus signifying to us that, if any of us keep her in the flesh and do not corrupt her, he shall receive her again so in the Holy Spirit: for this flesh is the copy of the spirit. No one then who corrupts the copy, shall partake of the original. This then is what he means, "Keep the flesh, that you may partake of the spirit." But if we say that the flesh is the Church and the spirit Christ, then he that has shamefully used the flesh has shamefully used the Church. Such a one then shall not partake of the spirit, which is Christ. Such life and incorruption this flesh can partake of, when the Holy Spirit is joined to it. No one can utter or speak "what the Lord has prepared" for his elect.
Now I do not think I have given you any light counsel concerning self-control, which if anyone do he will not repent of it, but will save both himself and me who counseled him. For it is no light reward to turn again a wandering and perishing soul that it may be saved. For this is the recompense we have to return to God who created us, if he that speaks and hears both speaks and hears with faith and love. Let us therefore abide in the things which we believed, righteous and holy, that with boldness we may ask of God who says, "While you are yet speaking, I will say, see, I am here." For this saying is the sign of a great promise; for the Lord says of himself that he is more ready to give than he that asks to ask. Being therefore partakers of so great kindness, let us not be envious of one another in the obtaining of so many good things. For as great as is the pleasure which these sayings have for those who have done them, so great is the condemnation they have for those who have been disobedient.
Therefore, brethren, having received no small occasion for repentance, while we have the opportunity, let us turn to God that called us, while we still have him as One who receives us. For if we renounce these enjoyments and conquer our soul in not doing these its evil desires, we shall partake of the mercy of Jesus. But you know that the day of judgment even now "comes as a burning oven," and some "of the heavens shall melt," and all the earth shall be as lead melting on the fire, and then the hidden and open works of men shall appear. Almsgiving therefore is a good thing, as repentance from sin; fasting is better than prayer, but almsgiving than both; "but love covers a multitude of sins." But prayer out of a good conscience delivers from death. Blessed is everyone who is found full of these; for alms-giving eases the burden of sin.
Let us therefore repent from the whole heart, that no one of us perish by the way. For if we have commandments that we should also practice this, to draw away men from idols and instruct them, how much more ought a soul already knowing God not to perish! Let us therefore assist one another that we may also lead up those weak as to what is good, in order that all may be saved; and let us convert and admonish one another. And let us not think to give heed and believe now only, while we are admonished by the presbyters, but also when we have returned home, remembering the commandments of the Lord; and let us not be dragged away by worldly lusts, but coming more frequently let us attempt to make advances in the commandments of the Lord, that all being of the same mind we may be gathered together to life. For the Lord said," I come to gather together all the nations, tribes, and tongues." This he speaks of the day of his appearing, when he shall come and redeem us, each one according to his works. And the unbelievers "shall see his glory," and strength; and they shall think it strange when they see the sovereignty of the world in Jesus, saying, woe to us, you were He, and we did not know and did not believe, and we did not obey the presbyters when they declared to us concerning our salvation. And "their worm dies not, and their fire is not quenched, and they shall be for a spectacle to all flesh." He speaks of that day of judgment, when they shall see those among us that have been wicked and acted deceitfully with the commandments of Jesus Christ. But the righteous who have done well and endured torments and hated the enjoyments of the soul, when they shall behold those that have gone astray and denied Jesus through their words or through their works, how that they are punished with grievous torments in unquenchable fire, shall be giving glory to God, saying, There will be hope for him that has served God with his whole heart.
Let us also become of the number of those who give thanks, that have served God, and not of the wicked that are judged. For I myself also, being an utter sinner, and not yet escaped from temptation, but still being in the midst of the engines of the devil, give diligence to follow after righteousness, that I may have strength to come even near it, fearing the judgment to come.
Therefore, brethren and sisters, after the God of truth has been heard, I read to you an entreaty that you may give heed to the things that are written, in order that you may save both yourselves and him that reads among you. For as a reward I ask of you that you repent with the whole heart, thus giving to yourselves salvation and life. For by doing this we shall set a goal for all the young who are minded to labour on behalf of piety and the goodness of God. And let us not, unwise ones that we are, be affronted and sore displeased, whenever some one admonisheth and turns us from iniquity to righteousness. For sometimes while we are practicing evil things we do not perceive it on account of the double-mindedness and unbelief that is in our breasts, and we are "darkened in our understanding" by our vain lusts. Let us then practice righteousness that we may be saved to the end. Blessed are those who obey these ordinances. Even if for a little time they suffer evil in the world, they shall enjoy the immortal fruit of the resurrection. So do not let the godly man be grieved, if he be wretched in the times that now are; a blessed time waits for him. He, living again above with the fathers, shall be joyful for an eternity without grief.
But neither let it trouble your understanding, that we see the unrighteous having riches and the servants of God worn out. Let us therefore, brethren and sisters, be believing: we are striving in the contest of the living God, we are exercised by the present life, in order that we may be crowned by that to come. No one of the righteous received fruit speedily, but awaits it. For if God gave shortly the recompense of the righteous, immediately we would be exercising ourselves in business, not in godliness; for we would seem to be righteous, while pursuing not what is godly but what is gainful. And on this account Divine judgment surprised a spirit that was not righteous, and loaded it with chains.
To the only God invisible, the Father of truth, who sent forth to us the Saviour and Prince of incorruption, through whom also he manifested to us the truth and the heavenly life, to him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Peter is explaining the themes of his own preaching, and calling for loyalty to keeping the Christian Books hidden from unblievers. Under the Roman imperial regime, members of the Church must use caution and discretion, just like the Jews.
Peter to James, the Lord and bishop of the holy Church, under the Father of all, through Jesus Christ, wishes peace always.
Knowing, my brother, your eager desire after that which is for the advantage of us all, I beg and beseech you not to communicate to anyone of the Gentiles the books of my preachings which I sent to you, nor to anyone of our own tribe before trial; but if anyone has been proved and found worthy, then to commit them to him, after the manner in which Moses delivered his books to the Seventy who succeeded to his chair. Therefore also the fruit of that caution appears even till now. For his countrymen keep the same rule of monarchy and polity everywhere, being unable in any way to think otherwise, or to be led out of the way of the much-indicating Scriptures. For, according to the rule delivered to them, they endeavour to correct the discordances of the Scriptures, if anyone, perhaps not knowing the traditions, is confounded at the various utterances of the prophets. Therefore they charge no one to teach, unless he has first learned how the Scriptures must be used. And thus they have amongst them one God, one law, one hope.
In order, therefore, that the like may also happen to those among us as to these Seventy, give the books of my preachings to our brethren, with the like mystery of initiation, that they may indoctrinate those who wish to take part in teaching; for if it be not so done, our word of truth will be rent into many opinions. And this I know, not as being a prophet, but as already seeing the beginning of this very evil. For some from among the Gentiles have rejected my legal preaching, attaching themselves to certain lawless and trifling preaching of the man who is my enemy. And these things some have attempted while I am still alive, to transform my words by certain various interpretations, in order to the dissolution of the law; as though I also myself were of such a mind, but did not freely proclaim it, which God forbid! For such a thing were to act in opposition to the Law of God which was spoken by Moses, and was born witness to by our Lord in respect of its eternal continuance; for thus he spoke: "The heavens and the earth shall pass away, but one jot or one tittle shall in no way pass from the law." And this he has said, that all things might come to pass. But these men, professing, I do not know how, to know my mind, undertake to explain my words, which they have heard of me, more intelligently than I who spoke them, telling their catechumens that this is my meaning, which indeed I never thought of. But if, while I am still alive, they dare thus to misrepresent me, how much more will those who shall come after me dare to do so!
Therefore, that no such thing may happen, for this end I have prayed and besought you not to communicate the books of my preaching which I have sent you to anyone, whether of our own nation or of another nation, before trial; but if anyone, having been tested, has been found worthy, then to hand them over to him, according to the initiation of Moses, by which he delivered his books to the Seventy who succeeded to his chair; in order that thus they may keep the faith, and everywhere deliver the rule of truth, explaining all things after our tradition; in case being themselves dragged down by ignorance, being drawn into error by conjectures after their mind, they bring others into the like pit of destruction. Now the things that seemed good to me, I have fairly pointed out to you; and what seems good to you, do you, my Lord, becomingly perform. Farewell.
1. Therefore James, having read the epistle, sent for the elders; and having read it to them, said: "Our Peter has strictly and becomingly charged us concerning the establishing of the truth, that we should not communicate the books of his preachings, which have been sent to us, to anyone at random, but to one who is good and religious, and who wishes to teach, and who is circumcised, and faithful. And these are not all to be committed to him at once; that, if he be found injudicious in the first, the others may not be entrusted to him. Therefore let him be proved not less than six years. And then according to the initiation of Moses, he that is to deliver the books should bring him to a river or a fountain, which is living water, where the regeneration of the righteous takes place, and should make him, not swear - for that is not lawful - but to stand by the water and adjure, as we ourselves, when we were re-generated, were made to do for the sake of not stoning.
2. "And let him say: "I take to witness heaven, earth, water, in which all things are comprehended, and in addition to all these, that, air also which pervades all things, and without which I cannot breathe, that I shall always be obedient to him who gives me the books of the preachings; and those same books which he may give me, I shall not communicate to anyone in any way, either by writing them, or giving them in writing, or giving them to a writer, either myself or by another, or through any other initiation, or trick, or method, or by keeping them carelessly, or placing them before anyone, or granting him permission to see them, or in any way or manner whatever communicating them to another; unless I shall ascertain one to be worthy, as I myself have been judged, or even more so, and that after a probation of not less than six years; but to one who is religious and good, chosen to teach, as I have received them, so I will commit them, doing these things also according to the will of my bishop.
3. "But otherwise, though he were my son or my brother, or my friend, or otherwise in any way pertaining to me by kindred, if he be unworthy, that I will not grant the favour to him, as is not meet; and I shall neither be terrified by plot nor mollified by gifts. But if even it should ever seem to me that the books of the preachings given to me are not true, I shall not so communicate them, but shall give them back. And when I go abroad, I shall carry them with me, whatever of them I happen to possess. But if I be not minded to carry them about with me, I shall not allow them to be in my house, but shall deposit them with my bishop, having the same faith, and setting out from the same persons as myself. But if it befall me to be sick, and in expectation of death, and if I be childless, I shall act in the same manner. But if I die having a son who is not worthy, or not yet capable, I shall act in the same manner. For I shall deposit them with my bishop, in order that if my son, when he grows up, be worthy of the trust, he may give them to him as his father's bequest, according to the terms of this engagement.
4. "And that I shall thus do, I again call to witness heaven, earth, water, in which all things are enveloped, and in addition to all these, the all-pervading air, without which I cannot breathe, that I shall always be obedient to him who gives me these books of the preachings, and shall observe in all things as I have engaged, or even something more. To me, therefore, keeping this covenant, there shall be a part with the holy ones; but to me doing anything contrary to what I have covenanted, may the universe be hostile to me, and the all-pervading ether, and the God who is over all, to whom none is superior, than whom none is greater. But if even I should come to the acknowledgment of another God, I now swear by him also, be he or be he not, that I shall not do otherwise. And in addition to all these things, if I shall lie, I shall be accursed living and dying, and shall be punished with everlasting punishment.
"And after this, let him partake of bread and salt with him who commits them to him."
James having thus spoken, the elders were in an agony of terror. Therefore James, perceiving that they were greatly afraid, said: "Hear me, brethren and fellow-servants. If we should give the books to all indiscriminately, and they should be corrupted by any daring men, or be perverted by interpretations, as you have heard that some have already done, it will remain even for those who really seek the truth, always to wander in error. Therefore it is better that they should be with us, and that we should communicate them with all the fore-mentioned care to those who wish to live piously, and to save others. But if anyone, after taking this adjuration, shall act otherwise, he shall with good reason incur eternal punishment. For why should not he who is the cause of the destruction of others not be destroyed himself?" The elders, therefore, being pleased with the sentiments of James exclaimed, "Blessed be he who, as foreseeing all things, has graciously appointed you as our bishop;" and when they had said this, we all rose up, and prayed to the Father and God of all, to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Clement to James, the Lord, and the bishop of bishops, who rules Jerusalem, the holy church of the Hebrews, and the churches everywhere excellently rounded by the providence of God, with the elders and deacons, and the rest of the brethren, peace be always.
Be it known to you, my Lord, that Simon, who, for the sake of the true faith, and the most sure foundation of his doctrine, was set apart to be the foundation of the Church, and for this end was by Jesus himself, with his truthful mouth, named Peter, the first-fruits of our Lord, the first of the apostles; to whom first the Father revealed the Son; whom the Christ, with good reason, blessed; the called, and elect, and associate at table and in the journeyings of Christ; the excellent and approved disciple, who, as being fittest of all, was commanded to enlighten the darker part of the world, namely the West, and was enabled to accomplish it, - and to what extent do I lengthen my discourse, not wishing to indicate what is sad, which yet of necessity, though reluctantly, I must tell you, - he himself, by reason of his immense love towards men, having come as far as rome, clearly and publicly testifying, in opposition to the wicked one who withstood him, that there is to be a good King over all the world, while saving men by his God-inspired doctrine, himself, by violence, exchanged this present existence for life.
But about that time, when he was about to die, the brethren being assembled together, he suddenly seized my hand, and rose up, and said in presence of the church: "Hear me, brethren and fellow-servants. Since, as I have been taught by the Lord and Teacher Jesus Christ, whose apostle I am, the day of my death is approaching, I lay hands on this Clement as your bishop; and to him I entrust my chair of discourse, even to him who has journeyed with me from the beginning to the end, and thus has heard all my homilies - who, in a word, having had a share in all my trials, has been found steadfast in the faith; whom I have found, above all others, pious, philanthropic, pure, learned, chaste, good, upright, large-hearted, and striving generously to bear the ingratitude of some of the catechumens. Therefore I communicate to him the power of binding and loosing, so that with respect to everything which he shall ordain in the earth, it shall be decreed in the heavens. For he shall bind what ought to be bound, and loose what ought to be loosed, as knowing the role of the Church. Therefore hear him, as knowing that he who grieves the president of the truth, sins against Christ, and offends the Father of all. Therefore he shall not live; and therefore it becomes him who presides to hold the place of a physician, and not to cherish the rage of an irrational beast."
While he thus spoke, I knelt to him, and entreated him, declining the honour and the authority of the chair. But he answered: "Concerning this matter do not ask me; for it has seemed to me to be good that thus it be, and all the more if you decline it. For this chair has not need of a presumptuous man, ambitious of occupying it, but of one pious in conduct and deeply skilled in the word of God. But show me a better than yourself, who has traveled more with me, and has heard more of my discourses, and has learned better the regulations of the Church, and I shall not force you to do well against your will. But it will not be in your power to show me your superior; for you are the choice first-fruits of the multitudes saved through me. However, consider this further, that if you do not undertake the administration of the Church, through fear of the danger of sin, you may be sure that you sin more, when you have it in your power to help the godly, who are, so to speak, at sea and in danger, and will not do so, providing only for your own interest, and not for the common advantage of all. But that you ought altogether to undertake the danger, while I do not cease to ask it of you for the help of all, you well understand. The sooner, therefore, you consent, so much the sooner will you relieve me from anxiety.
"But I myself also, O Clement, know the griefs and anxieties, and dangers and reproaches, that are appointed you from the uninstructed multitudes; and these you will be able to bear nobly, looking to the great reward of patience bestowed on you by God. But also consider this fairly with me: When has Christ need of your aid? Now, when the wicked one has sworn war against his bride; or in the time to come, when he shall reign victorious, having no need of further help? Is it not evident to anyone who has even the least understanding, that it is now? Therefore with all goodwill hasten in the time of the present necessity to do battle on the side of this good King, whose character it is to give great rewards after victory. Therefore take the oversight gladly; and all the more in good time, because you have learned from me the administration of the Church, for the safety of the brethren who have taken refuge with us.
"However, I wish, in the presence of all, to remind you, for the sake of all, of the things belonging to the administration. It becomes you, living without reproach, with the greatest earnestness to shake off all the cares of life, being neither a surety, nor an advocate, nor involved in any other secular business. For Christ does not wish to appoint you either a judge or an arbitrator in business, or negotiator of the secular affairs of the present life, in case, being confined to the present cares of men, you should not have leisure by the word of truth to separate the good among men from the bad. But let the disciples perform these offices to one another, and not withdraw you from the discourses which are able to save. For as it is wicked for you to undertake secular cares, and to omit the doing of what you have been commanded to do, so it is sin for every layman, if they do not stand by one another even in secular necessities. And if all do not understand to take order that you be without care in respect of the things in which you ought to be, let them learn it from the deacons; that you may have the care of the Church always, in order both to your administering it well, and to your holding forth the words of truth.
"Now, if you were occupied with secular cares, you should deceive both yourself and your hearers. For not being able, on account of occupation, to point out the things that are advantageous, both you should be punished, as not having taught what was profitable, and they, not having learned, should perish by reason of ignorance. Therefore you indeed preside over them without occupation, so as to send forth seasonably the words that are able to save them; and so let them listen to you, knowing that whatever the ambassador of the truth shall bind on earth is bound also in heaven, and what he shall loose is loosed. But you shall bind what ought to be bound, and loose what ought to be loosed. And these, and such like, are the things that relate to you as president.
"And with respect to the presbyters, take these instructions. Above all things, let them join the young betimes in marriage, anticipating the entanglements of youthful lusts. But neither let them neglect the marriage of those who are already old; for lust is vigorous even in some old men. In case, therefore, fornication find a place among you, and bring on you a very pestilence, take precaution, and search, in case at any time the fire of adultery be secretly kindled among you. For adultery is a very terrible thing, even such that it holds the second place in respect of punishment, the first being assigned to those who are in error, even although they be chaste. Therefore as elders of the Church, you encourage the spouse of Christ to chastity (by the spouse I mean the body of the Church); for if she be apprehended to be chaste by her royal Bridegroom, she shall obtain the greatest honour; and you, as wedding guests, shall receive great commendation. But if she be caught having sinned, she herself indeed shall be cast out; and you shall suffer punishment, if at any time her sin has been through your negligence.
"Therefore above all things be careful about chastity; for fornication has been marked out as a bitter thing in the estimation of God. But there are many forms of fornication, as also Clement himself will explain to you. The first is adultery, that a man should not enjoy his own wife alone, or a woman not enjoy her own husband alone. If anyone be chaste, he is able also to be philanthropic, on account of which he shall obtain eternal mercy. For as adultery is a great evil, so philanthropy is the greatest good. Therefore love all your brethren with grave and compassionate eyes, performing to orphans the part of parents, to widows that of husbands, affording them sustenance with all kindliness, arranging marriages for those who are in their prime, and for those who are without a profession, the means of necessary support through employment; giving work to the artificer, and alms to the incapable.
"But I know that you will do these things if you fix love into your minds; and for its entrance there is one only fit means, namely the common partaking of food. Therefore see to it that you be frequently one another's guests, as you are able, that you may not fail of it. For it is the cause of well-doing, and well-doing of salvation. Therefore all of you present your provisions in common to all your brethren in God, knowing that, giving temporal things, you shall receive eternal things. Much more feed the hungry, and give drink to the thirsty, and clothing to the naked; visit the sick; showing yourselves to those who are in prison, help them as you are able, and receive strangers into your houses with all alacrity. However, not to speak in detail, philanthropy will teach you to do everything that is good, as misanthropy suggests ill-doing to those who will not be saved,
"Let the brethren who have causes to be settled not be judged by the secular authorities; but let them by all means be reconciled by the elders of the church, yielding ready obedience to them. Moreover, also, flee avarice, inasmuch as it is able, under pretext of temporal gain, to deprive you of eternal blessings. Carefully keep your balances, your measures, your weights, and the things belonging to your traffic, just. Be faithful with respect to your trusts. Moreover, you will persevere in doing these things, and things similar to these, until the end, if you have in your hearts an ineradicable memory of the judgment that is from God. For who would sin, being persuaded that at the end of life there is a judgment appointed of the righteous God, who only now is patient and good, that the good may in future enjoy for ever unspeakable blessings; but the sinners being found as evil, shall obtain an eternity of unspeakable punishment. And, indeed, that these things are so, it would be reasonable to doubt, were it not that the Prophet of the truth has said and sworn that it shall be.
"Therefore, being disciples of the true Prophet, laying aside double-mindedness, from which comes ill-doing, eagerly undertake well-doing. But if any of you doubt concerning the things which I have said are to be, let him confess it without shame, if he cares for his own soul, and he shall be satisfied by the president. But if he has believed rightly, let his conversation be with confidence, as fleeing from the great fire of condemnation, and entering into the eternal good kingdom of God.
"Moreover let the deacons of the church, going about with intelligence, be as eyes to the bishop, carefully enquiring into the doings of each member of the church, ascertaining who is about to sin, in order that, being arrested with admonition by the president, he may perhaps not accomplish the sin. Let them check the disorderly, that they may not desist from assembling to hear the discourses, so that they may be able to counteract by the word of truth those anxieties that fall on the heart from every side, by means of worldly casualties and evil communications; for if they long remain fallow, they become fuel for the fire. And let them learn who are suffering under bodily disease, and let them bring them to the notice of the multitude who do not know of them, that they may visit them, and supply their wants according to the judgment of the president. Yes, though they do this without his knowledge, they do nothing amiss. These things, then, and things like to these, let the deacons attend to.
"Let the catechists instruct, being first instructed; for it is a work relating to the souls of men. For the teacher of the word must accommodate himself to the various judgments of the learners. The catechists must therefore be learned, and unblameable, of much experience, and approved, as you will know that Clement is, who is to be your instructor after me. For it would be too much for me now to go into details. However, if you are of one mind, you shall be able to reach the haven of rest, where is the peaceful city of the great King.
"For the whole business of the Church is like to a great ship, bearing through a violent storm men who are of many places, and who desire to inhabit the city of the good kingdom. Let, therefore, God be your shipmaster; and let the pilot be likened to Christ, the mate to the bishop, and the sailors to the deacons, the midshipmen to the catechists, the multitude of the brethren to the passengers, the world to the sea; the foul winds to temptations, persecutions, and dangers; and all way of afflictions to the waves; the land winds and their squalls to the discourses of deceivers and false prophets; the promontories and rugged rocks to the judges in high places threatening terrible things; the meetings of two seas, and the wild places, to unreasonable men and those who doubt of the promises of truth. Let hypocrites be regarded as like to pirates. Moreover, account the strong whirlpool, and the Tartarean Charybdis, and murderous wrecks, and deadly founderings, to be nought but sins. In order, therefore, that, sailing with a fair wind, you may safely reach the haven of the hoped-for city, pray so as to be heard. But prayers become audible by good deeds.
"Let therefore the passengers remain quiet, sitting in their own places, in case by disorder they occasion rolling or careening. Let the midshipmen give heed to the fare. Let the deacons neglect nothing with which they are entrusted; let the presbyters, like sailors, studiously arrange what is needful for each one. Let the bishop, as the mate, wakefully ponder the words of the pilot alone. Let Christ, even the Saviour, be loved as the pilot, and alone believed in the matters of which he speaks; and let all pray to God for a prosperous voyage. Let those sailing expect every tribulation, as traveling over a great and troubled sea, the world: sometimes, indeed, disheartened, persecuted, dispersed, hungry, thirsty, naked, hemmed in; and, again, sometimes united, congregated, at rest; but also sea-sick, giddy, vomiting, that is, confessing sins, like disease-producing bile, - I mean the sins proceeding from bitterness, and the evils accumulated from disorderly lusts, by the confession of which, as by vomiting, you are relieved of your disease, attaining healthful safety by means of carefulness.
"But know all of you that the bishop labours more than you all; because each of you suffers his own affliction, but he his own and that of everyone. Therefore, O Clement, preside as a helper to everyone according to your ability, being careful of the cares of all. Whence I know that in your undertaking the administration, I do not confer, but receive, a favour. But take courage and bear it generously, as knowing that God will recompense you when you enter the haven of rest, the greatest of blessings, a reward that cannot be taken from you, in proportion as you have undertaken more labour for the safety of all. So that, if many of the brethren should hate you on account of your lofty righteousness, their hatred shall nothing hurt you, but the love of the righteous God shall greatly benefit you. Therefore endeavour to shake off the praise that arises from injustice, and to attain the profitable praise that is from Christ on account of righteous administration."
Having said this, and more than this, he looked again on the multitude, and said: "And you also, my beloved brethren and fellow-servants, be subject to the president of the truth in all things, knowing this, that he who grieves him has not received Christ, with whose chair he has been entrusted; and he who has not received Christ shall be regarded as having despised the Father; therefore he shall be cast out of the good kingdom. On this account, endeavour to come to all the assemblies, in case as deserters you incur the charge of sin through the disheartening of your captain. Therefore all of you think before all else of the things that relate to him, knowing this, that the wicked one, being the more hostile on account of everyone of you, wars against him alone. Do you therefore strive to live in affection towards him, and in kindliness towards one another, and to obey him, in order that both he may he comforted and you may be saved.
"But some things also you ought of yourselves to consider, on account of his not being able to speak openly by reason of the plots. Such as: if he be hostile to anyone, do not wait for his speaking; and do not take part with that man, but prudently follow the bishop's will, being enemies to those to whom he is an enemy, and not conversing with those with whom he does not converse, in order that everyone, desiring to have you all as his friends, may be reconciled to him and be saved, listening to his discourse. But if anyone remain a friend of those to whom he is an enemy, and speak to those with whom he does not converse, he also himself is one of those who would waste the church. For, being with you in body, but not with you in judgment, he is against you; and is much worse than the open enemies from without, since with seeming friendship he disperses those who are within."
Having thus spoken, he laid his hands on me in the presence of all, and compelled me to sit in his own chair. And when I was seated, he immediately said to me: "I ask you, in the presence of all the brethren here, that whensoever I depart from this life, as depart I must, you send to James the brother of the Lord a brief account of your reasonings from your boyhood, and how from the beginning until now you have journeyed with me, hearing the discourses preached by me in every city, and seeing my deeds. And then at the end you will not fail to inform him of the way of my death, as I said before. For that event will not grieve him very much, when he knows that I piously went through what it was necessary for me to suffer. And he will get the greatest comfort when he learns, that not an unlearned man, or one ignorant of life-giving words, or not knowing the rule of the Church, shall be entrusted with the chair of the teacher after me. For the discourse of a deceiver destroys the souls of the multitudes who hear."
Whence I, my Lord James, having promised as I was ordered, have not failed to write in books by chapters the greater part of his discourses in every city, which have been already written to you, and sent by himself, as for a token; and thus I despatched them to you, inscribing them "Clement's Epitome of the Popular Sermons of Peter." However, I shall begin to set them forth, as I was ordered.
To all those who love and cherish their life which is in Christ through God the Father, and obey the truth of God in hope of eternal life; to those who bear affection towards their brethren and towards their neighbours in the love of God; to the blessed brother virgins, who devote themselves to preserve virginity "for the sake of the kingdom of heaven;" and to the holy sister virgins: the peace which is in God.
Of all virgins of either sex who have truly resolved to preserve virginity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven - of each and every one of them it is required that he be worthy of the kingdom of heaven in everything. For not by eloquence or renown, by station and descent, or by beauty or strength, or by length of life, is the kingdom of heaven obtained; but it is obtained by the power of faith, when a man exhibits the works of faith. For whosoever is truly righteous, his works testify concerning his faith, that he is truly a believer, with a faith which is great, a faith which is perfect, a faith which is in God, a faith which shines in good works, that the Father of all may be glorified through Christ. Now, those who are truly virgins for the sake of God give heed to him who has said, "Let not righteousness and faith fail you; bind them on your neck, and you shall find favour for yourself; and devise you good things before God and before men." "The paths," therefore, "of the righteous shine as the light, and the light of them advances until the day is perfect." For the beams of their light illumine the whole creation even now by good works, as those who are truly "the light of the world," giving light to "those who sit in darkness," that they may arise and go forth from the darkness by the light of the good works of the fear of God, "that they may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven." For it is required of the man of God, that in all his words and works he be perfect, and that in his life he be adorned with all exemplary and well-ordered behaviour, and do all his deeds in righteousness, as a man of God.
For virgins are a beautiful pattern to believers, and to those who shall believe. The name alone, indeed, without works, does not introduce into the kingdom of heaven; but, if a man be truly a believer, such a person can be saved. For, if a person be only called a believer in name, while he is not such in works, he cannot possibly be a believer. "Let no one," therefore, "lead you astray with the empty words of error." For, merely because a person is called a virgin, if he be destitute of works excellent and comely, and suitable to virginity, he cannot possibly be saved. For our Lord called such virginity as that "foolish," as he said in the Gospel; and because it had neither oil nor light, it was left outside of the kingdom of heaven, and was shut out from the joy of the bridegroom, and was reckoned with his enemies. For such persons as these "have the appearance only of the fear of God, but the power of it they deny." For they "think with themselves that they are something, while they are nothing, and are deceived. But let everyone constantly try his works," and know himself; for empty worship does he offer, whosoever he be that makes profession of virginity and sanctity, "and denies its power." For virginity of such a kind is impure, and disowned by all good works. For "every tree whatever is known from its fruits." "See that you understand what I say: God will give you understanding." For whosoever engages before God to preserve sanctity must be girded with all the holy power of God. And, if with true fear he crucify his body, he for the sake of the fear of God excuses himself from that word in which the Scripture has said: "Be fruitful, and multiply," and shuns all the display, and care, and sensuality, and fascination of this world, and its revelries and its drunkenness, and all its luxury and ease, and withdraws from the entire life of this world, and from its snares, and nets, and hindrances; and, while you walk on the earth, be zealous that your work and your business be in heaven.
For he who covets for himself these things so great and excellent, withdraws and severs himself on this account from all the world, that he may go and live a life divine and heavenly, like the holy angels, in work pure and holy, and "in the holiness of the Spirit of God," and that he may serve God Almighty through Jesus Christ for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. On this account he severs himself from all the appetites of the body. And not only does he excuse himself from this command, "Be fruitful, and multiply," but he longs for the "hope promised" and prepared "and laid up in heaven" by God, who has declared with his mouth, and he does not lie, that it is "better you sons and daughters," and that he will give to virgins a notable place in the house of God, which is something "better than sons and daughters," and better than the place of those who have passed a wedded life in sanctity, and whose "bed has not been defiled." For God will give to virgins the kingdom of heaven, as to the holy angels, by reason of this great and noble profession.
You desire, then, to be a virgin? Know you what hardship and irksomeness there is in true virginity - that which stands constantly at all seasons before God, and does not withdraw from his service, and "is anxious how it may please its Lord with a holy body, and with its spirit?" Know you what great glory pertains to virginity, and is it for this that you do set yourself to practice it? do you really know and understand what it is you are eager to do? Are you acquainted with the noble task of holy virginity? do you know how, like a man, to enter "lawfully" on this contest and "strive," that, in the might of the Holy Spirit, you choose this for yourself, that you may be crowned with a crown of light, and that they may lead you about in triumph through "the Jerusalem above"? If so be, then, that you long for all these things, conquer the body; conquer the appetites of the flesh; conquer the world in the Spirit of God; conquer these vain things of time, which pass away and grow old, and decay, and come to an end; conquer the dragon; conquer the lion; conquer the serpent; conquer Satan; - through Jesus Christ, who does strengthen you by the hearing of his words and the divine Eucharist. "Take up your cross and follow" him who makes you clean, Jesus Christ your Lord. Strive to run straight forward and boldly, not with fear, but with courage, relying on the promise of your Lord, that you shall obtain the victor-crown of your "calling on high" through Jesus Christ. For whosoever walks perfect in faith, and not fearing, does in very deed receive the crown of virginity, which is great in its toil and great in its reward. Do you understand and know how honourable a thing is sanctity? do you understand how great and exalted and excellent is the glory of virginity?
The womb of a holy virgin carried our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and the body which our Lord wore, and in which he carried on the conflict in this world, he put on from a holy virgin. From this, therefore, understand the greatness and dignity of virginity. Do you wish to be a Christian? Imitate Christ in everything. John, the ambassador, he who came before our Lord, he "than whom there was not a greater among those born of women," the holy messenger of our Lord, was a virgin. Imitate, therefore, the ambassador of our Lord, and be his follower in everything. That John, again, who "reclined on the bosom of our Lord, and whom he greatly loved," - he, too, was a holy person. For it was not without reason that our Lord loved him. Paul, also, and Barnabas, and Timothy, with all the others, "whose names are written in the book of life," - these, I say, all cherished and loved sanctity, and ran in the contest, and finished their course without blemish, as imitators of Christ, and as sons of the living God. Moreover, also, Elijah and Elisha, and many other holy men, we find to have lived a holy and spotless life. If, therefore, you desire to be like these, imitate them with all your power. For the Scripture has said, "The elders who are among you, honour; and, seeing their way of life and conduct, imitate their faith." And again it says, "Imitate me, my brethren, as I irritate Christ."
Those, therefore, who imitate Christ, imitate him earnestly. For those who have "put on Christ" in truth, express his likeness in their thoughts, and in their whole life, and in all their behaviour: in word, and in deeds, and in patience, and in fortitude, and in knowledge, and in chastity, and in patience, and in a pure heart, and in faith, and in hope, and in full and perfect love towards Cool. No virgin, therefore, unless they be in everything as Christ, and as those "who are Christs," can be saved. For every virgin who is in God is holy in her body and in her spirit, and is constant in the service of her Lord, not turning away from it anywhere, but waiting on him always in purity and holiness in the Spirit of God, being "solicitous how she may please her Lord," by living purely and without stain, and solicitous to be pleasing before him in everything. She who is such does not withdraw from our Lord, but in spirit is ever with her Lord: as it is written, "Be holy, as I am holy, says the Lord."
For, if a man be only in name called holy, he is not holy; but he must be holy in everything: in his body and in his spirit. And those who are virgins rejoice at all times in becoming like God and his Christ, and are imitators of them. For in those that are such there is not "the mind of the flesh." In those who are truly believers, and "in whom the Spirit of Christ dwells" -in them "the mind of the flesh" cannot be: which is fornication, uncleanness, wantonness; idolatry, sorcery; enmity, jealousy, rivalry, wrath, disputes, dissensions, ill-will; drunkenness, revelry; buffoonery, foolish talking, boisterous laughter; backbiting, insinuations; bitterness, rage; clamour, abuse, insolence of speech; malice, inventing of evil, falsehood; talkativeness, babbling; threatenings, gnashing of teeth, readiness to accuse, jarring, disdainings, blows; perversions of the right, laxity in judgment; haughtiness, arrogance, ostentation, pompousness, boasting of family, of beauty, of position, of wealth, of an arm of flesh; quarrelsomeness, injustice, eagerness for victory; hatred, anger, envy, perfidy, retaliation; debauchery, gluttony, "overreaching (which is idolatry)," "the love of money (which is the root of all evils);" love of display, vainglory, love of rule, assumption, pride (which is called death, and which "God fights against "). Every man with whom are these and such like things - every such man is of the flesh. For, "he that is born of the flesh is flesh; and he that is of the earth speaks of the earth," and his thoughts are of the earth. And "the mind of the flesh is enmity towards God. For it does not submit itself to the Law of God; for it cannot do so," because it is in the flesh, "in which dwells no good," because the Spirit of God is not in it. For this reason justly does the Scripture say regarding such a generation as this: "My Spirit shall not dwell in men for ever, because they are flesh." "Whosoever, therefore, has not the Spirit of God in him, is none of his:" as it is written, "The Spirit of God departed from Saul, and an evil spirit troubled him, which was sent on him from God."
He in whomsoever the Spirit of God is, is in accord with the will of the Spirit of God; and, because he is in accord with the Spirit of God, therefore does he mortify, the deeds of the body and live to God, "treading down and subjugating the body and keeping it under; so that, while preaching to others," he may be a beautiful example and pattern to believers, and may spend his life in works which are worthy of the Holy Spirit, so that he may "not be cast away," but may be approved before God and before men. For in "the man who is of God," with him I say there is nothing of the mind of the flesh; and especially in virgins of either sex; but the fruits of all of them are "the fruits of the Spirit" and of life, and they are truly the city of God, and the houses and temples in which God abides and dwells, and among which he walks, as in the holy city of heaven. For in this "do you appear to the world as lights, in that you give heed to the Word of life," and thus you are in truth the praise, and the boast, and the crown of rejoicing, and the delight of good servants in our Lord Jesus Christ. For all who see you will "acknowledge that you are the seed which the Lord has blessed;" in very deed a seed honourable and holy, and "a priestly kingdom, a holy people, the people of the inheritance," the heirs of the promises of God; of things which do not decay, nor wither; of "that which eye has not seen, and car has not heard, and which has not come up into the heart of man; of that which God has prepared for those who love him and keep his commandments."
Now, we are persuaded of you, my brethren, that your thoughts are occupied about those things which are required for your salvation. But we speak thus in consequence of the evil rumors and reports concerning shameless men, who, under pretext of the fear of God, have their dwelling with maidens, and so expose themselves to danger, and walk with them along the road and in solitary places alone - a course which is full of dangers, and full of stumbling-blocks and snares and pitfalls; nor is it in any respect right for Christians and those who fear God so to conduct themselves. Others, too, eat and drink with them at entertainments allowing themselves in loose behaviour and much uncleanness - such as ought not to be among believers, and especially among those who have chosen for themselves a life of holiness. Others, again, meet together for vain and trifling conversation and merriment, and that they may speak evil of one another; and they hunt up tales against one another, and are idle: persons with whom we do not allow you even to eat bread. Then, others gad about among the houses of virgin brethren or sisters, on pretense of visiting them, or reading the Scriptures to them, or exorcising them. Since they are idle and do no work, they pry into those things which ought not to be enquired into, and by means of plausible words make merchandise of the name of Christ. These are men from whom the divine apostle kept aloof, because of the multitude of their evil deeds; as it is written: "Thorns sprout in the hands of the idle;" and, "The ways of the idle are full of thorns."
Such are the ways of all those who do not work, but go hunting for tales, and think to themselves that this is profitable and right. For such persons are like those idle and prating widows "who go wandering about among houses" with their prating, and hunt for idle tales, and carry them from house to house with much exaggeration, without fear of God. And besides all this, barefaced men as they are, under pretense of teaching, they set forth a variety of doctrines. And I wish that they taught the doctrines of truth! But it is this which is so disquieting, that they understand not what they mean, and assert that which is not true: because they wish to be teachers, and to display themselves as skillful in speaking; because they traffic in iniquity in the name of Christ - which it is not right for the servants of God to do. And they listen not to that which the Scripture has said: "Let not many be teachers among you, my brethren, and be not all of you prophets." For "he who does not transgress in word is a perfect man, able to keep down and subjugate his whole body." And, "If a man speak, let him speak in the words of God." And, "If there is in you understanding, give an answer to your brother but if not, put your hand on your mouth." For, "at one you it is proper to keep silence, and at another you to speak." And again it says "When a man speaks in season, it is honourable to him." And again it says: "Let your speech be seasoned with grace. For it is required of a man to know how to give an answer to everyone in season." For "he that utters whatever comes to his mouth, that man produces strife; and he that utters a superfluity of words increases vexation; and he that is hasty with his lips falls into evil. For because of the unruliness of the tongue comes anger; but the perfect man keeps watch over his tongue, and loves his soul's life." For these are they "who by good words and fair speeches lead astray the hearts of the simple, and, while offering them blessings, lead them astray." Let us, therefore, fear the judgment which awaits teachers. For a severe judgment will those teachers receive "who teach, but do not," and those who take on them the name of Christ falsely, and say: We teach the truth, and yet go wandering about idly, and exalt themselves, and make their boast" in the mind of the flesh." These, moreover, are like "the blind man who leads the blind man, and they both fall into the ditch." And they will receive judgment, because in their talkativeness and their frivolous teaching they teach natural wisdom and the "frivolous error of the plausible words of the wisdom of men," "according to the will of the prince of the dominion of the air, and of the spirit which works in those men who will not obey, according to the training of this world, and not according to the doctrine of Christ." But if you have received "the word of knowledge, or the word of instruction, or of prophecy," blessed be God, "who helps every man without grudging - that God who gives to every man and does not rebuke him." With the gift, therefore, which you have received from our Lord, serve your spiritual brethren, the prophets who know that the words which you speake are those of our Lord; and declare the gift which you have received in the Church for the edification of the brethren in Christ (for good and excellent are those things which help the men of God), if so be that they are truly with you.
Moreover, also, this is comely and useful, that a man "visit orphans and widows," and especially those poor persons who have many children. These things are, without controversy, required of the servants of God, and comely and suitable for them. This also, again, is suitable and right and comely for those who are brethren in Christ, that they should visit those who are harassed by evil spirits, and pray and pronounce adjurations over them, intelligently, offering such prayer as is acceptable before God; not with a multitude of fine words, well prepared and arranged, so that they may appear to men eloquent and of a good memory. Such men are "like a sounding pipe, or a tinkling cymbal;" and they bring no help to those over whom they make their adjurations; but they speak with terrible words, and affright people, but do not act with true faith, according to the teaching of our Lord, who has said: "This kind goes not out but by fasting and prayer," offered unceasingly and with earnest mind. And let them holily ask and beg of God, with cheerfulness and all circumspection and purity, without hatred and without malice. In this way let us approach a brother or a sister who is sick, and visit them in a way that is right, without guile, and without covetousness, and without noise, and without talkativeness, and without such behaviour as is alien from the fear of God, and without haughtiness, but with the meek and lowly spirit of Christ. Let them, therefore, with fasting and with prayer make their adjurations, and not with the elegant and wall-arranged and fitly-ordered words of learning, but as men who have received the gift of healing from God, confidently, to the glory of God. By your fastings and prayers and perpetual watching, together with your other good works, mortify the works of the flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit. He who acts thus "is a temple of the Holy Spirit of God." Let this man cast out demons, and God will help him. For it is good that a man help those that are sick. Our Lord has said: "Cast out demons," at the same time commanding many other acts of healing; and, "Freely you have received, freely give." For such persons as these a pleasing recompense is laid up by God, because they serve their brethren with the gifts which have been given them by the Lord. This is also comely and helpful to the servants of God, because they act according to the injunctions of our Lord, who has said: "I was sick, and you visited me, and so on." And this is comely and right and just, that we visit our neighbours for the sake of God with all seemliness of manner and purity of behaviour; as the Apostle has said: "Who is sick, and I am not sick? Who is offended, and I am not offended?" But all these things are spoken in reference to the love with which a man should love his neighbour. And in these things let us occupy ourselves, without giving offence, and let us not do anything with partiality or for the shaming of others, but let us love the poor as the servants of God, and especially let us visit them. For this is comely before God and before men, that we should remember the poor, and be lovers of the brethren and of strangers, for the sake of God and for the sake of those who believe in God, as we have learnt from the Law and from the prophets, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, concerning the love of the brotherhood and the love of strangers: for you know the words which have been spoken concerning the love of the brotherhood and the love of strangers; powerfully are the words spoken to all those who do them.
Beloved brethren! that a man should build up and establish the brethren on the faith in one God, this also is manifest and well-known. This too, again, is comely, that a man should not be envious of his neighbour. And moreover, again, it is suitable and comely that all those who work the works of the Lord should work the works of the Lord in the fear of God. Thus is it required of them to conduct themselves. That "the harvest is great, but the workmen are few," this also is well-known and manifest. Let us, therefore, "ask of the Lord of the harvest" that he would send forth workmen into the harvest; such workmen as "shall skillfully dispense the word of truth;" workmen "who shall not be ashamed;" faithful workmen; workmen who shall be "the light of the world;" workmen who "work not for the food that perisheth, but for that food which abides to life eternal;" workmen who shall be such as the apostles; workmen who imitate the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; who are concerned for the salvation of men; not "hireling" workmen; not workmen to whom the fear of God and righteousness appear to be gain; not workmen who "serve their belly;" not workmen who "with fair speeches and pleasant words mislead the hearts of the innocent;" not workmen who imitate the children of light, while they are not light but darkness - "men whose end is destruction;" not workmen who practice iniquity and wickedness and fraud; not "crafty workmen;" not workmen "drunken" and "faithless;" nor workmen who traffic in Christ; not misleaders; not "lovers of money; not malevolent."
I would have you know, my brethren, of what sort is our conduct in Christ, as well as that of all our brethren, in the various places in which we are. And if so be that you approve it, do you also conduct yourselves in the same way in the Lord. Now we, if God help us, conduct ourselves thus: we do not live with maidens, nor have we anything in common with them; with maidens we do not eat, nor drink; and, where a maiden sleeps, we do not sleep; neither do women wash our feet, nor anoint us; and on no account do we sleep where a maiden sleeps who is unmarried or has taken the vow: even though she be in some other place if she be alone, we do not pass the night there. Moreover, if it happens that the time for rest overtake us in a place, whether in the country, or in a village, or in a town, or in a hamlet, or wheresoever we happen to be, and there are found brethren in that place, we turn in to one who is a brother, and call together there all the brethren, and speak to them words of encouragement and exhortation. And those among us who are gifted in speaking will speak such words as are earnest, and serious, and chaste, in the fear of God, and exhort them to please God in everything, and abound and go forward in good works, and" be free from anxious care in everything," as is fit and right for the people of God.
And if, moreover, it chance that we are distant from our homes and from our neighbours, and the day decline and the eventide overtake us, and the brethren press us, through love of the brotherhood and by reason of their affection for strangers, to stay with them, so that we may watch with them, and they may hear the holy word of God and do it, and be fed with the words of the Lord, so that they may be mindful of them, and they set before us bread and water and that which God provides, and we be willing and consent to stay through the night with them; if there be there a holy man, with him we turn in and lodge, and that same brother will provide and prepare whatever is necessary for us; and he himself waits on us, and he himself washes our feet for us and anoints us with ointment, and he himself gets ready a bed for us, that we may sleep in reliance on God. All these things will that consecrated brother, who is in the place in which we delay, do in his own person. He will himself serve the brethren, and each one of the brethren who are in the same place will join with him in rendering all those services which are required for the brethren. But with us may no female, whether young maiden or married woman, be there at that you; nor she that is aged. Nor she that has taken the vow; not even a maid-servant, whether Christian or heathen; but there shall only be men with men. And, if we see it to be required to stand and pray for the sake of the women, and to speak words of exhortation and edification, we call together the brethren and all the holy sisters and maidens, and likewise all the other women who are there, inviting them with all modesty and becoming behaviour to come and feast on the truth. And those among us who are skilled in speaking speak to them, and exhort them in those words which God has given us. And then we pray, and salute one another, the men the men. But the women and the maidens will wrap their hands in their garments; and we also, with circumspection and with all purity, our eyes looking upwards, shall wrap our right hand in our garments; and then they will come and give us the salutation on our right hand wrapped in our garments. Then we go where God permits us.
And if again we chance to come into a place where there is no consecrated brother, but all are married, all those who are there will receive the brother who comes to them, and minister to him, and care for his wants in everything, assiduously, with goodwill. And the brother shall be ministered to by them in the way that is suitable. And the brother will say to the married persons who are in that place: We holy men do not eat or drink with women, nor are we waited on by women or by maidens, nor do women wash our feet for us, nor do women anoint us, nor do women prepare our bed for us, nor do we sleep where women sleep, so that we may be without reproach in everything, in case anyone should be offended or stumble at us. And, while we observe all these things, "we are without offence to every man." As persons, therefore, "who know the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, and to God we are made manifest."
But if we chance to come into a place where there are no Christian men, but all the believers are women and maidens, and they press us to pass the night there in that place, we call them all together to some suitable place, and ask them how they do; and according to that which we learn from them, and what we see to be their state of mind, we address them in a suitable man-Her, as men fearing God. And when they have all assembled and come together, and we see that they are in peace, we address to them words of exhortation in the fear of God, and read the Scripture to them, with purity and in the concise and weighty words of the fear of God. We do everything as for their edification. And as to those who are married, we speak to them in the Lord in a manner suited to them. And if, moreover, the day decline and the eventide draw on, we select, in order to pass the night there, a woman who is aged and the most exemplary of them all; and we speak to her to give us a place all to ourselves, where no woman enters, nor maiden. And this old woman herself will bring us a lamp, and whatever is required for us she will herself bring us. From love to the brethren, she will bring whatever is required for the service of stranger brethren. And she herself, when the you for sleep is come, will depart and go to her house in peace.
But if, moreover, we chance on a place, and find there one believing woman only, and no other person be there but she only, we do not stop there, nor pray there, nor read the Scriptures there, but we flee as from before the face of a serpent, and as from before the face of sin. Not that we disdain the believing woman - far be it from us to be so minded towards our brethren in Christ! - but, because she is alone, we are afraid in case anyone should make insinuations against us in words of falsehood. For the hearts of men are firmly sets on evil. And, that we may not give a pretext to those who desire to get a pretext against us and to speak evil of us, and that we may not be a stumbling-block to anyone, on this account we cut off the pretext of those who desire to get a pretext against us; on this account we must be "on our guard that we be to no one a stumbling-block, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor yet to the Church of God; and we must not seek that which is profitable to ourselves only, but that which is for the profit of many, so that they may be saved." For this does not profit us, that another stumble because of us. Let us, therefore, be studiously on our guard at all times, that we do not smite our brethren and give them to drink of a disquieting conscience through our being to them a stumbling-block. For "if for the sake of meat our brother be made sad, or shocked, or made weak, or caused to stumble, we are not walking in the love of God. For the sake of meat you cause him to perish for whose sake Christ died." For, in "thus sinning against your brethren and wounding their sickly consciences, you sin against Christ himself. For, if for the sake of meat my brother is made to stumble," let us who are believers say, "Never will we eat flesh, that we may not make our brother to stumble." These things, moreover, does ever one who truly loves God, who truly takes up his cross, and puts on Christ, and loves his neighbour; the man who watches over himself that he be not a stumbling-block to anyone, that no one be caused to stumble because of him and die because he is constantly with maidens and lives in the same house with them - a thing which is not right - to the overthrow of those who see and hear. Evil conduct like this is fraught with stumbling and peril, and is akin to death. But blessed is that man who is circumspect and fearful in everything for the sake of purity!
If, moreover, it chance that we go to a place in which there are no Christians, and it be important for us to stay there a few days, let us be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves;" and let us "not be as the foolish, but as the wise," in all the self-restraint of the fear of God, that God may be glorified in everything through our Lord Jesus Christ, through our chaste and holy behaviour. For, "whether we eat, or drink, or do anything else, let us do it as for the glory of God." Let "all those who see us acknowledge that we are a blessed seed," "sons of the living God," in everything - in all our words in shamefastness, in purity, in humility, since we do not copy the heathen in anything, nor are as believers like other men, but in everything are estranged from the wicked. And we "do not cast that which is holy before dogs, nor pearls before swine;" but with all possible self-restraint, and with all discretion, and with all fear of God, and with earnestness of mind we praise God. For we do not minister where heathens are drinking and blaspheming in their feasts with words of impurity, because of their wickedness.
Therefore we do not sing psalms to the heathens, nor do we read to them the Scriptures, that we may not be like common singers, either those who play on the lyre, or those who sing with the voice, or like soothsayers, as many are, who follow these practices and do these things, that they may sat themselves with a paltry mouthful of bread, and who, for the sake of a sorry cup of wine, go about "singing the songs of the Lord in the strange land" of the heathen, and doing what is not right. Do not so, my brethren; we beseech you, my brethren, let not these deeds be done among you; but put away those who choose thus to behave themselves with infamy and disgrace. It is not proper, my brethren, that these things should be so. But we beseech you, brethren in righteousness, that these things be so done with you as with us, as for a pattern of believers, and of those who shall believe. Let us be of the flock of Christ, in all righteousness, and in all holy and unblemished conduct, behaving ourselves with uprightness and sanctity, as is right for believers, and observing those things which are praiseworthy, and pure, and holy, and honourable, and noble; and do you promote all those things which are profitable. For you are "our joy, and our crown," and our hope, and our life, "if so be that you stand in the Lord." So be it!
Let us consider, therefore, my brethren, and see how all the righteous fathers conducted themselves during the whole time of their sojourn in this life, and let us search and examine from the Law down to the New Testament. For this is both becoming and profitable, that we should know how many men there have been, and who they, were, that have perished through women; and who and how many have been the women that have perished through men, by reason of the constancy with which they have associated with one another. And further, also, for the same reason, I will show how many have been the men, and who they were, that lived all their lifetime, and continued even to the close, with one another in the performance of chaste works without blemish. And it is manifest and well-known that this is so.
There is Joseph, faithful, and intelligent, and wise, and who feared God in everything. Did not a woman conceive an excessive passion for the beauty of this chaste and upright man? And, when he would not yield and consent to gratify her passionate desire, she cast the righteous man into every kind of distress and torment, to within a little of death, by bearing false witness. But God delivered him from all the evils that came on him through this wretched woman. You see, my brethren, what distresses the constant sight of the person of the Egyptian woman brought on the righteous man. Therefore, let us not be constantly with women, nor with maidens. For this is not profitable for those who truly wish to "gird up their loins." For it is required that we love the sisters in all purity and chasteness, and with all curbing of thought, in the fear of God, not associating constantly with them, nor finding access to them at every hour.
Have you not heard concerning Samson the Nazarite, "with whom was the Spirit of God," the man of great strength? This man, who was a Nazarite, and consecrated to God, and who was gifted with strength and might, a woman brought to ruin with her wretched body, and with her vile passion. Are you, perhaps, such a man as he? Know yourself, and know the measure of your strength. "The married woman catches precious souls." Therefore, we do not allow any man whatever to sit with a married woman; much less to live in the same house with a maiden who has taken the vow, or to sleep where she sleeps, or to be constantly with her. For this is to be hated and abominated by those who fear God.
Does not the case of David instruct you, whom God "found a man after his heart," one faithful, faultless, pious, true? This same man saw the beauty of a woman - I mean of Bathsheba - when he saw her as she was cleansing herself and washing unclothed. This woman the holy man saw, and was thoroughly captivated with desire by the sight of her. See, then, what evils he committed because of a woman, and haw this righteous man sinned, and gave command that the husband of this woman should be killed in battle. You have seen what wicked schemes he laid and executed, and how, because of his passion for a woman, he perpetrated a murder - he, David, who was called "the anointed of the Lord." Be admonished, O man: for, if such men as these have been brought to ruin through women, what is your righteousness, or what are you among the holy, that you consort with women and with maidens day and night, with much silliness, without fear of God? Not thus, my brethren, not thus let us conduct ourselves; but let us be mindful of that word which is spoken concerning a woman: "Her hands lay snares, and her heart spreads nets; but the just shall escape from her, while the wicked falls into her hands." Therefore let us, who are consecrated, be careful not to live in the same house with females who have taken the vow. For such conduct as this is not becoming nor right for the servants of God.
Have you not read concerning Amnon and Tamar, the children of David? This Amnon conceived a passion for his sister, and humbled her, and did not spare her, because he longed for her with a shameful passion; and he proved wicked and profligate because of his constant intercourse with her, without the fear of God, and he "worked uncleanness in Israel." Therefore, it is not proper for us, nor right for us, to associate with sisters, indulging in laughter and looseness; but we ought to behave towards them with all chasteness and purity, and in the fear of the Lord.
Have you not read the history of Solomon, the son of David, the man to whom God gave wisdom, and knowledge, and largeness of mind, and riches, and much glory, beyond all men? Yet this same man, through women, came to ruin, and departed from the Lord.
Have you not read, and do you not know, concerning those elders who were in the days of Susanna, who, because they were constantly with women, and looking on the beauty which was another's, fell into the depths of wantonness, and were not able to keep themselves in a chaste mind, but were overcome by a depraved disposition, and came suddenly on the blessed Susanna to corrupt her. But she did not consent to their foul passion, but cried to God, and God saved her out of the hands of the bad old men. Does it not, therefore, behoove us to tremble and be afraid, since these old men, judges and elders of the people of God, fell from their dignity because of a woman? For they did not keep in mind that which is said: "Look you not on the beauty which is another's;" and, "The beauty of woman has destroyed many;" and "With a married woman do not sit;" and that, again, in which it says: "Is there anyone who puts fire in his bosom, and does not burn his clothes;" or, "Does a man walk on fire, and his feet are not scorched? So whosoever goes in to another man's wife is not pure from evil, and whosoever comes near to her shall not escape." And again it says: "You shall not long after the beauty a woman, in case she take you captive with her eyelids;" and, "You shall not look on a maiden, in case you perish through desire of her;" and, "With a woman that sings beautifully you shall not constantly be;" and, "Let him that thinks he stands take heed in case he fall."
But see what it says also concerning those holy men, the prophets, and concerning the apostles of our Lord. Let us see whether anyone of these holy men was constantly with maidens, or with young married women, or with such widows as the divine apostle declines to receive. Let us consider, in the fear of God, the way of life of these holy men. See! we find it written concerning Moses and Aaron, that they acted and lived in the company of men, who themselves also followed a course of conduct like theirs. And thus did Joshua also, the son of Nun. Woman was there none with them; but they by themselves used holily to minister before God, men with men. And not only so; but they taught the people, that, whensoever the host moved, every tribe should move on apart, and the women with the women apart, and that they should go into the rear behind the host, and the men also apart by their tribes. And, according to the command of the Lord, so did they set out, like a wise people, that there might be no disorder on account of the women when the host moved. With beautiful and well-ordered arrangements did they march without stumbling. For see! the Scriptures bear testimony to my words: "When the children of Israel had crossed over the Sea of Suth, Moses and the children of Israel sang the praises of the Lord, and said: We will praise the Lord, because he is exceedingly to be praised." And, after that Moses had finished singing praises, then Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, took a timbrel in her hands, and all the women went out after her, and sang praises with her, women with women apart, and men with men apart. Then again, we find that Elisha and Gehazi and the sons of the prophets lived together in the fear of God, and that they had no females living with them. Micah too, and all the prophets likewise, we find to have lived in this manner in the fear of the Lord.
And, not to extend our discourse to too great length, what shall we say concerning our Lord Jesus Christ? Our Lord himself was constantly with his twelve disciples when he had come out to the world. And not only so; but also, when he was sending them out, he sent them out two and two together, men with men; but women were not sent with them, and neither in the highway nor in the house did they associate with women or with maidens: and thus they pleased God in everything. Also, when our Lord Jesus Christ himself was talking with the woman of Samaria by the well alone, "his disciples came" and found him talking with her, "and wondered that Jesus was standing and talking with a woman." Is he not a rule, such as may not be set aside, an example, and a pattern to all the tribes of men? And not only so; but also, when our Lord was risen from the place of the dead, and Mary came to the place of sepulture, she ran and fell at the feet of our Lord and worshipped him, and would have taken hold of him. But he said to her: "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father." Is it not, then, matter for astonishment, that, while our Lord did not allow Mary, the blessed woman, to touch his feet, yet you live with them, and are waited on by women and maidens, and sleep where they sleep, and women wash your feet for you, and anoint you! Alas for this culpable state of mind! Alas for this state of mind which is destitute of fear! Alas for this affrontery and folly, which is without fear of God! do you not judge your own self? do you not examine your own self? do you not know your own self and the measure of your strength? These things, moreover, are trustworthy, and these things are true and right; and these are rules immutable for those who behave themselves uprightly in our Lord. Many holy women, again, ministered to holy men of their substance, as the Shunammite woman ministered to Elisha; but she did not live with him, but the prophet lived in a house apart. And, when her son died, she wanted to throw herself at the feet of the prophet; but his attendant would not allow her, but restrained her. But Elisha said to his servant: "Let her alone, because her soul is distressed." From these things, then, we ought to understand their way of life. To Jesus Christ our Lord women ministered of their substance: but they did not live with him; but chastely, and holily, and unblameably they behaved before the Lord, and finished their course, and received the crown in our Lord God Almighty.
Therefore, we beseech you, our brethren in our Lord, that these things be observed with you, as with us, and that we may be of the same mind, that we may be one in you and you may be one in us, and that in everything we may be of one soul and one heart in our Lord. Whosoever knows the Lord hears us; and everyone who is not of God hears not us. He who desires truly to keep sanctity hears us; and the Virgin who truly desires to keep virginity hears us; but she who does not truly desire to keep virginity does not hear us. Finally, farewell in our Lord, and rejoice in the Lord, all you saints Peace and joy be with you from God the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord. So be it. Here ends the Second Letter of Clement, the disciple of Peter. His prayer be with us! So be it.