Saint Clement of Rome

Saint Clement’s Epistle to the Corinthians is the earliest surviving papal document we have besides the Epistles of Saint Peter; read on and learn more about our fourth Pope…

There is a beautiful excerpt from Saint Irenaeus’ Against Heresies; the third paragraph of the third chapter of the third book tells us of a man who “saw the blessed Apostles and conversed with them, and had yet ringing in his ears the preaching of the Apostles and had their tradition before his eyes.” We glean a few things here: “preaching” is communication by word of mouth and by the expression “before his eyes,” we understand this to signify things that were shown; in this case, “traditions.” This is significant because traditions are very important for us Catholics, but unfortunately are not recognized by our Protestant brothers and sister, and it is important for us to realize this in our apologetic efforts and our witness to them. Thus in this introduction, we will emphasize the theme of tradition, and how it was at the time of the Apostles already being passed on. What are these nebulous traditions? Well, we know from New Testament Scriptures for example, that the early Church gathered for what we now call Mass; how did they perform this sacred ritual? This is not spelled out in the New Testament books because it would have been taken for granted that the readers attended Sunday gatherings and knew the ritual. So we don’t know how they performed the Liturgy from reading Scripture, but rather from attending any one of the many Catholic rites around the world. It’s been passed on by words and deeds. If we e-mail a Church-going friend telling them we attended Mass this morning, we don’t go and describe the minute details of the Liturgy apart from perhaps a few comment on the homily; simply stating “I went to Church” suffices. We take for granted that our friend is familiar with the rite since he or she has also had the priest words ringing in his or her ears and has had the priest’s actions before his or her eyes at his or her Church. And thus many traditions were carefully passed on by the Apostles not in writing, but by word of mouth and demonstration, and learned and memorized over long periods by their successors. The man that Saint Irenaeus refers to above was one of these successors of the Apostles. His name was Clement of Rome:


“This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preachings of the apostles still echoing in his ears, and their tradition before his eyes. Nor was he alone in this, as there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome despatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles…”

                                               St. Irenaeus III, iii.


According to many Church Fathers, including Irenaeus, Eusebius and Jerome, and the majority of scholars, Clement of Rome was our fourth Pope, that is, the third after Saint Peter, following Linus and Anencletus, also known as Anacletus or Cletus. The sources also inform us that he was succeeded by Evaristus. Some original sources place him as our second Pope; for example St. Jerome tells us that in his time “most of the latins” held that Clement was the immediate successor of the Apostle, but Jerome also states elsewhere that Clement was indeed the fourth Pope. There are also sources that place Saint Clement as our third Pope. The cause of this confusion regarding our first four Popes may stem from the fact that Clement was ordained by Saint Peter himself, and he, Linus and Cletus were co-presbyters at Rome before Clement succeeded the other two in the government of the Roman Church.


The original Introductory Note to the First Epistle of Clement to the Corithians by A. Cleveland Coxe, D. D., which we have posted below, places the years of Clement’s life as being between 30 and 100 A.D., although these are obviously rounded-off numbers that include a fair margin of error. Scholars are definitely not unanimous when it comes to accurately pinpointing the span of Saint Clement’s life, but we can certainly conclude that he was born around the last years of Our Lord’s earthly ministry, and passed on around the end of the first century. Some scholars maintain that Clement was probably a Roman Gentile, and related to Emperor Domitian while others believe that, because of his continual reference to—and intimate knowledge of—the Old Testament, that he may have been of Jewish origin. The Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent (see links below) suggests that he could have been a freedman or son of a freedman of the emperor’s household, in which case he would have been one among thousands, giving this thesis a strong probability. Father Michael Witt, in his audio presentation for which we have provided you a link below, accepts the view that Clement could have been a member of the Clemens family. Saint Clement could have been in some public service and may have been at Philippi around A.D. 57. He may even have been a citizen of Philippi when that Church was going through its trials, and could have visited Corinth around this time. A. Cleveland Coxe states that it wouldn’t be a far-fetched notion why a Roman would be in Philippi since the city was at that time a Roman colony. Of course, much of this is conjectural, but from Epiphanius, using Hegesippus, we learn that Clement was indeed a contemporary of Peter and Paul, and most scholars agree that the Clement from Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians 4:3 and Clement of Rome are the same person. Also, Origen identifies Pope Clement with Saint Paul’s fellow labourer. Thus Clement would certainly have earned solid credentials by the time he was elected to lead the Church. And from the foregoing, it is obvious that he would have been familiar with the Greek language, and would have learned the use of the Septuagint from the Apostle Saint Paul and his companion, the physician and Evangelist, Saint Luke.



Saint John the Apostle would have still been alive at this time. A. Cleveland Coxe, in trying to downplay the Roman connection in his Introductory Note, states that the Corinthians would have “looked naturally to the surviving friends of their great founder” (Saint Paul’s friend Clement) for advice concerning their problem, and that “the aged Apostle John, in Ephesus or the Island of Patmos, would not have been as accessible as Rome.” As clever as the saying “all roads led to Rome” is, in reality, many roads connected many locations along the way. Both Ephesus and Patmos are in fact closer to Corinth than Rome is, whether by land or by sea, or combinations of the two. And John, after all was an “original” apostle; it would have made more sense to go to John because of his status and proximity to Corinth than to go to Rome, unless Rome had a primacy over the other Churches that was universally acknowledged. It stands to reason that the Apostles would have soon recognized the need for a clear hierarchy in the Church, and that situation would have came to be out of necessity, common sense, and perhaps Our Lord’s own mandate. Rome, because it was the place where both Peter and Paul ended their journey—and yes, at that time most roads eventually did lead to this city—would have been the logical place, and Peter, by virtue of his special appointment by Our Lord Himself would have naturally assumed a role undisputed by the others. By the time of Saint Clement’s letter, this situation would have come to pass and would be the reason the Corinthians sought, and/or accepted, advice from the Bishop of Rome. For more on this, we have provided an excerpt from A History of the Church by Philip Hughes below.



Drs. Roberts and Donaldson, the translator and editor of the following version of St. Clement’s letter, and authors of the Introductory Notice to this translation state in their comment that Clement’s first Epistle has come down to us in one single manuscript, the Alexandian, which  does not bear Clement’s name per se, but they mention that all the ancient writers throughout the centuries attributed the letter to Clement, and it is also attributed to him in the catalogue of contents that prefix the manuscript. Although this may have been the case in the late nineteenth century, more manuscripts have been found since, some partial and in several ancient languages. Father Witt mentions these in his audio presentation, along with a complete manuscript found with the Didache. The date of the Saint Clement’s letter however has generated some controversy. We know from the letter that it was composed shortly after some persecution; if it was written after the persecution of Nero, the date could be as early as A.D. 68. But if the persecution in question was the Domitian one, then the letter should be dated at the end of the first century. There have been scholars debating both sides of the issue; Drs Donald and Robertson, the writers of the original preface to the Church Fathers series, and Father Witt favour the Domitian period and a date of about 97 A.D. In fact, Father Witt’s adherence to the theory that Clement  may have been a member of the Clemens family would necessarily place the letter at the later date. However—and significant for Catholics—in 1996, Cardinal Ratzinger, now our Pope, supported a date of A.D. 70, and by 2002 most scholars supported a date earlier than 96, some agreeing with the 70 A.D. date. Fortunately for us, the exact date of the Epistle is not a matter of Faith and Morals, or of Church Doctrine for that matter, and we can for the most part take the letter at face value, and simply focus on its inspiring content.


As we have mentioned, Clement quotes from the Old Testament extensively, and when he does, he quotes from the Septuagint, as did the Evangelists in writing their Gospels. But as A. Cleveland Coxe states in his introductory remark linked below, “his (Clement’s) copy of that version, however, does not always agree with the ‘Received Text,’ as the reader will perceive.” This “Received Text,” commonly referred to by the Latin Textus Receptus, is not a concern for Roman Catholics; Clement’s text does not have to conform to this text. One must be aware that Protestants and Catholics disagree regarding the historical treatments of the Bible. The reality of the matter is that Sacred Scripture has come to us in many manuscripts that include many textual variations, the Vaticanus, the Alexandrianus, the Sinaiticus, and the Byzantines are prominent examples. The Textus Receptus is important to many Protestants, especially “King James Only” adherents, and Protestants in general, since they adhere to the principle of “Sola Scriptura” where the Bible is their only authority and is the “infallible, and unerring Word of God” (which it obviously is for us Catholics also), and therefore there must be only one infallible and unerring original text (this however is not as important for Catholics). For them, that text is the Textus Receptus, upon which the King James Bible is based. For us Catholics, the “table of contents” of Sacred Scripture is in fact one of our early “traditions.” We compiled the Bible. As Michael Voris states in one of his presentations, “the Church did not grow out of the New Testament; rather, the New Testament grew out of the Church.” We have Sacred Tradition which complements Sacred Scripture. The Catholic Church has always passed on the truth by means of the “three-legged stool” of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the interpreting Magisterium.


Regarding the New Testament, we must remember that the “Bible” as we know it today did not exist for the early Church of Clement’s time, though most of the manuscripts were in circulation. Although many scholars will point to an absence of New Testament material in Clement’s letter, this also is not a concern for Catholics; again, as Michael Voris said “the Church did not grow out of the New Testament; rather, the New Testament grew out of the Church.” Clement would not have been “quoting New Testament Scripture” at this time, but rather, passing on Tradition. Nevertheless, Father Michael Witt, in his presentation on Clement of Rome, for which we have provided a link below, mentions thirteen citations and parallels to the New Testament found in Saint Clement’s Epistle; we strongly recommend that you listen to this very good commentary on Saint Clement.


The Epistle of Clement was held in high esteem in the early Church; in fact, Drs Roberts and Donaldson, despite their Protestant bias, admit that:


“We are aware that this Epistle has been publicly read in very many churches both in old times, and also in our own day. The Epistle before us thus appears to have been read in numerous churches, as being almost on a level with the canonical writings. And its place in the Alexandrian ms., immediately after the inspired books, is in harmony with the position thus assigned it in the primitive Church.”


We Catholics believe that the young Church did not grind to a halt at the death of the last Apostle; the seeds had been well planted and watered, and the fruits of those seeds were indeed growing and multiplying. The young Church was quickly gaining momentum, and although the Apostles could no longer be directly accessed, their successors were beneficiaries of a lot more of their teachings than the relatively small amount contained in the Scriptures. Jesus had spent three years with His Apostles, and they in turn spent many years with their successors, answering all their questions about Jesus and describing even the most subtle gestures and expressions of Our Lord. Clement, having long been a co-labourer with both Paul and Peter, had truly earned his stripes and Peter’s keys. His letter to the Corinthians, regarded in the early centuries as being on par with Scripture, demonstrates that even while the Apostle John was still alive, the early Church grasped the bull by the horn so to speak, set up an hierarchical structure, and authoritatively dealt with the issues that arose; it had received the power of the Apostles through the laying of hands and had been given the mandate to forge ahead and make disciples (of/in) all nations, a task that obviously requires organization. The death of the Apostles did not leave a vacuum, but rather an abundance:


“What shall we give them to eat?” asked the Apostles. “You feed them” answered Our Lord…

“What shall we say?” asked the Apostles. “The Holy Spirit will guide you” answered Our Lord…

“The gates of Hell will not prevail against my Church” promised Our Lord to Saint Peter and Saint Paul affirmed that this Church was “the foundation and pillar of Truth”…

“Go, and preach to all nations… The Holy Spirit will be with you always. I will not leave you orphans.”


Indeed, like the multiplying of bread, a deposit of faith had become plentiful and was already been carefully passed on by the Apostle’s to their successors when one of these successors wrote his letter, and the writings of this successors was revered in the early Church. He was a man who “still heard ringing in his ears the preaching of the Apostles and still had their tradition before his eyes,” ready to carefully pass it to yet another generation, which included, as we shall later see, Saint Justin Martyr and Saint Irenaeus of Lyon.


Saint Clement, as with most early Christians leaders, was martyred; tradition says he was cast into the sea with an anchor tied to his neck so his followers could not recover his body. Thus, one of the symbols of Saint Clement is “Saint Clement’s Cross” also known as the “Anchored Cross,” “Sailor’s Cross” or “Mariner’s Cross.” This is a good Christian symbol as it ties in with the symbols of the sea such the boat, the fishermen and the fish, and can also represent Christian hope in Christ who becomes our anchor as we sail through the storms of life. We Roman Catholics celebrate Saint Clement of Rome’s feast day on the 23 of November whereas our brothers and sisters in Eastern Christianity celebrate his feast day two days later, on the 25 of November.



As the Epistle to the Corinthians is a fairly long letter, we have divided the text according to the chapter divisions and made each of these chapters accessible from a drop down bar; you may proceed directly to Clement’s Epistle to the Corinthians by clicking on the chapter you wish to read. Or, if you want to acquire more background information on Clement and his letter prior to reading its content, and we certainly urge you to do so, we have provided several references immediately below.


You can read a more in depth Catholic  article at one of our sources for our introduction to Saint Clement of Rome and his Epistle to the Corinthians at the Catholic Encyclopedia article at New Advent by clicking here.

You can listen to an audio presentation on the early popes by Father Michael Witt and host Theresa Holman of Covenant Network by clicking here.


Introductory Note to the First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians
A. Cleveland Coxe, D.D.

The Apostolic Fathers Series
Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.
ISBN 1-56563-083-1 


[a.d. 30-100.] Clement was probably a Gentile and a Roman. He seems to have been at Philippi with St. Paul (a.d. 57) when that first-born of the Western churches was passing through great trials of faith. There, with holy women and others, he ministered to the apostle and to the saints. As this city was a Roman colony, we need not inquire how a Roman happened to be there. He was possibly in some public service, and it is not improbable that he had visited Corinth in those days. From the apostle, and his companion, St. Luke, he had no doubt learned the use of the Septuagint, in which his knowledge of the Greek tongue soon rendered him an adept. His copy of that version, however, does not always agree with the Received Text, as the reader will perceive.


A co-presbyter with Linus and Cletus, he succeeded them in the government of the Roman Church. I have reluctantly adopted the opinion that his Epistle was written near the close of his life, and not just after the persecution of Nero. It is not improbable that Linus and Cletus both perished in that fiery trial, and that Clement’s immediate succession to their work and place occasions the chronological difficulties of the period. After the death of the apostles, for the Roman imprisonment and martyrdom of St. Peter seem historical, Clement was the natural representative of St. Paul, and even of his companion, the “apostle of the circumcision; “and naturally he wrote the Epistle in the name of the local church, when brethren looked to them for advice. St. John, no doubt, was still surviving at Patmos or in Ephesus; but the Philippians, whose intercourse with Rome is attested by the visit of Epaphroditus, looked naturally to the surviving friends of their great founder; nor was the aged apostle in the East equally accessible. All roads pointed towards the Imperial City, and started from its Milliarium Aureum. But, though Clement doubtless wrote the letter, he conceals his own name, and puts forth the brethren, who seem to have met in council, and sent a brotherly delegation (Chap. lix.). The entire absence of the spirit of Diotrephes (3 John 9), and the close accordance of the Epistle, in humility and meekness, with that of St. Peter (1 Peter 5: 1-5), are noteworthy features. The whole will be found animated with the loving and faithful spirit of St. Paul’s dear Philippians, among whom the writer had learned the Gospel.


Clement fell asleep, probably soon after he despatched his letter. It is the legacy of one who reflects the apostolic age in all the beauty and evangelical truth which were the first-fruits of the Spirit’s presence with the Church. He shares with others the aureole of glory attributed by St. Paul (Philippians 4: 3), “His name is in the Book of Life.”


The plan of this publication does not permit the restoration, in this volume, of the recently discovered portions of his work. It is the purpose of the editor to present this, however, with other recently discovered relics of primitive antiquity, in a supplementary volume, should the undertaking meet with sufficient encouragement. The so-called second Epistle of Clement is now known to be the work of another, and has been relegated to another place in this series.

The following is the Introductory Notice of the original editors and translators, Drs. Roberts and Donaldson:


The first Epistle, bearing the name of Clement, has been preserved to us in a single manuscript only. Though very frequently referred to by ancient Christian writers, it remained unknown to the scholars of Western Europe until happily discovered in the Alexandrian manuscript. This ms. of the Sacred Scriptures (known and generally referred to as Codex A) was presented in 1628 by Cyril, Patriarch of Constantinople, to Charles I., and is now preserved in the British Museum. Subjoined to the books of the New Testament contained in it, there are two writings described as the Epistles of one Clement. Of these, that now before us is the first. It is tolerably perfect, but there are many slight lacunae, or gaps, in the ms., and one whole leaf is supposed to have been lost towards the close. These lacunae, however, so numerous in some chapters, do not generally extend beyond a word or syllable, and can for the most part be easily supplied.


Who the Clement was to whom these writings are ascribed, cannot with absolute certainty be determined. The general opinion is, that he is the same as the person of that name referred to by St. Paul (Philippians 4: 3). The writings themselves contain no statement as to their author. The first, and by far the longer of them, simply purports to have been written in the name of the Church at Rome to the Church at Corinth. But in the catalogue of contents prefixed to the ms. they are both plainly attributed to one Clement; and the judgment of most scholars is, that, in regard to the first Epistle at least, this statement is correct, and that it is to be regarded as an authentic production of the friend and fellow-worker of St. Paul. This belief may be traced to an early period in the history of the Church. It is found in the writings of Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., iii. 15), of Origen (Comm. in Joan., i. 29), and others. The internal evidence also tends to support this opinion. The doctrine, style, and manner of thought are all in accordance with it; so that, although, as has been said, positive certainty cannot be reached on the subject, we may with great probability conclude that we have in this Epistle a composition of that Clement who is known to us from Scripture as having been an associate of the great apostle.


The date of this Epistle has been the subject of considerable controversy. It is clear from the writing itself that it was composed soon after some persecution (chap. i.) which the Roman Church had endured; and the only question is, whether we are to fix upon the persecution under Nero or Domitian. If the former, the date will be about the year 68; if the latter, we must place it towards the close of the first century or the beginning of the second. We possess no external aid to the settlement of this question. The lists of early Roman bishops are in hopeless confusion, some making Clement the immediate successor of St. Peter, others placing Linus, and others still Linus and Anacletus, between him and the apostle. The internal evidence, again, leaves the matter doubtful, though it has been strongly pressed on both sides. The probability seems, on the whole, to be in favour of the Domitian period, so that the Epistle may be dated about a.d. 97.


This Epistle was held in very great esteem by the early Church. The account given of it by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., iii. 16) is as follows: “There is one acknowledged Epistle of this Clement (whom he has just identified with the friend of St. Paul), great and admirable, which he wrote in the name of the Church of Rome to the Church at Corinth, sedition having then arisen in the latter Church. We are aware that this Epistle has been publicly read in very many churches both in old times, and also in our own day.” The Epistle before us thus appears to have been read in numerous churches, as being almost on a level with the canonical writings. And its place in the Alexandrian ms., immediately after the inspired books, is in harmony with the position thus assigned it in the primitive Church. There does indeed appear a great difference between it and the inspired writings in many respects, such as the fanciful use sometimes made of Old-Testament statements, the fabulous stories which are accepted by its author, and the general diffuseness and feebleness of style by which it is distinguished. But the high tone of evangelical truth which pervades it, the simple and earnest appeals which it makes to the heart and conscience, and the anxiety which its writer so constantly shows to promote the best interests of the Church of Christ, still impart an undying charm to this precious relic of later apostolic times.


[N.B.-A sufficient guide to the recent literature of the Clementinemss. and discoveries may be found in The Princeton Review, 1877, p. 325, also in Bishop Wordsworth’s succinct but learned Church History to the Council of Nicaea, p. 84. The invaluable edition of the Patres Apostolici, by Jacobson (Oxford, 1840), with a critical text and rich prolegomena and annotations, cannot be dispensed with by any Patristic inquirer. A. C. C.]



 To the Eve of the Reformation


by Philip Hughes


Clement was the head of the Church at Rome, the third successor, by the general reckoning, of St. Peter. His famous letter, written probably about the year 96, was directed to the restoration of peace at Corinth where a section of the faithful were in revolt against the rulers of that church. Its importance for the historian lies in the information he can gather from it as to the constitution of this early Christianity, as to the nature of its ruling authority and as to the character of its teaching. The letter makes no mention of the charismata, so familiar a feature in the time of St. Paul, nor of any itinerant missionary authorities. The temporary structures have already disappeared, and the Church is in the first days of the new permanent regime. Unity is essential and the source and means of unity is Authority.


Whence obedience to authority is the first duty of all believers. This is the leading idea of the letter. The believers are “a people” (ethnos) divinely set apart. They are an army in which “not all are officers. . . each has his rank, carrying out the orders of the leader.” They are a “body”, “the body of Christ,” a flock. Authority is the source of unity, and unity is achieved by submission to the “tutelage” (paideia) of authority. “Let us submit to the tutelage. . . obey the elders and allow them to tutor you. . . learn to be submissive. It is better to be nothing in the flock of Christ, to be even hungry, than to appear to be great and lack all hope in Christ.”


The subject matter of this education or tutelage is the traditional faith and the commandments of the Lord, “the words of the divine tutelage,” things already fixed in writing. This fixed and traditional doctrine is the norm by which the believer must be guided, “Let us cease to make vain searches, let us come to the glorious and venerable fixed rule (canona) that has been handed down to us.” This notion of determination by a fixed rule, a canon, is found in association with other things than doctrine. In the liturgical reunions, St. Clement reminds the Corinthians, offerings are to be made “not as anyone chooses and without order but as the Master ordained, at fixed and definite times. Where and by whom He Himself has arranged by His sovereign will.” Wherefore “each of us, brethren, should keep to his own rank, and not transgress the fixed rule (canona) of his rank.”


St. Clement’s explanation of the historical origin of the authority he is supporting is simple. It came to its present holders from the Apostles, who received it from Christ, Who received it from God. The Apostles preached the Gospel, and the first-fruits of their preaching they made bishops and deacons. As these died, others took their place inheriting the Apostolic commission and authority. These successors of the bishops nominated by the Apostles are elected by the Church over which they are to preside, but, an important point, it is from other bishops—not from their election—that the elect receive their powers. The powers are received by transmission from one who already possesses them himself. The essence of the Hierarchy is its descent from the Apostles. These things are not the express teaching of the letter. St. Clement does not argue for them, nor make any attempt to prove them. They are facts apparently as well known to his readers as to himself, recalled as the basis for his plea for peace and concord at Corinth. The letter ends on a practical note. A delegation goes with it to explain more fully the mind of the Roman Church.


Such is the first appearance in history of the Roman Church in action—intervening in the domestic affairs of another and distant Church. Was Clement of Rome asked to intervene? Then his letter is the sequel to the first appeal to Rome. Was his letter the fruit of his own spontaneous act? Nothing remains to tell us.  But the Roman Church is already acting as though conscious of its superior power; and this, during the lifetime of an Apostle, for St. John was still alive at Ephesus and Ephesus was much nearer to Corinth than was Rome!


This First Letter of St. Clement of Rome witnesses, then, to a general belief in the divine right of the hierarchy, in the divine origin of its power, and to the Roman Church’s consciousness of its peculiar superiority. It takes these things as the facts of the situation, and it acts on the supposition that they are facts universally recognised, which do not call for proof.


The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians


The Church of God which sojourns at Rome, to the Church of God sojourning at Corinth, to them that are called and sanctified by the will of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, from Almighty God through Jesus Christ, be multiplied.


Owing, dear brethren, to the sudden and successive calamitous events which have happened to ourselves, we feel that we have been somewhat tardy in turning our attention to the points respecting which you consulted us;2 and especially to that shameful and detestable sedition, utterly abhorrent to the elect of God, which a few rash and self-confident persons have kindled to such a pitch of frenzy, that your venerable and illustrious name, worthy to be universally loved, has suffered grievous injury.3 For whoever dwelt even for a short time among you, and did not find your faith to be as fruitful of virtue as it was firmly established?4 Who did not admire the sobriety and moderation of your godliness in Christ? Who did not proclaim the magnificence of your habitual hospitality? And who did not rejoice over your perfect and well-grounded knowledge? For ye did all things without respect of persons, and walked in the commandments of God, being obedient to those who had the rule over you, and giving all fitting honour to the presbyters among you. Ye enjoined young men to be of a sober and serious mind; ye instructed your wives to do all things with a blameless, becoming, and pure conscience, loving their husbands as in duty bound; and ye taught them that, living in the rule of obedience, they should manage their household affairs becomingly, and be in every respect marked by discretion.

{/slide}{slide=Chapter II.-Praise of the Corinthians Continued.}


Moreover, ye were all distinguished by humility, and were in no respect puffed up with pride, but yielded obedience rather than extorted it,5 and were more willing to give than to receive.6 Content with the provision which God had made for you, and carefully attending to His words, ye were inwardly filled7 with His doctrine, and His sufferings were before your eyes. Thus a profound and abundant peace was given to you all, and ye had an insatiable desire for doing good, while a full outpouring of the Holy Spirit was upon you all. Full of holy designs, ye did, with true earnestness of mind and a godly confidence, stretch forth your hands to God Almighty, beseeching Him to be merciful unto you, if ye had been guilty of any involuntary transgression. Day and night ye were anxious for the whole brotherhood,8 that the number of God’s elect might be saved with mercy and a good conscience.9 Ye were sincere and uncorrupted, and forgetful of injuries between one another. Every kind of faction and schism was abominable in your sight. Ye mourned over the transgressions of your neighbours: their deficiencies you deemed your own. Ye never grudged any act of kindness, being “ready to every good work.”10 Adorned by a thoroughly virtuous and religious life, ye did all things in the fear of God. The commandments and ordinances of the Lord were written upon the tablets of your hearts.11


Every kind of honour and happiness12 was bestowed upon you, and then was fulfilled that which is written, “My beloved did eat and drink, and was enlarged and became fat, and kicked.”13 Hence flowed emulation and envy, strife and sedition, persecution and disorder, war and captivity. So the worthless rose up against the honoured, those of no reputation against such as were renowned, the foolish against the wise, the young against those advanced in years. For this reason righteousness and peace are now far departed from you, inasmuch as everyone abandons the fear of God, and is become blind in His faith,14 neither walks in the ordinances of His appointment, nor acts a part becoming a Christian,15 but walks after his own wicked lusts, resuming the practice of an unrighteous and ungodly envy, by which death itself entered into the world.16


For thus it is written: “And it came to pass after certain days, that Cain brought of the fruits of the earth a sacrifice unto God; and Abel also brought of the firstlings of his sheep, and of the fat thereof. And God had respect to Abel and to his offerings, but Cain and his sacrifices He did not regard. And Cain was deeply grieved, and his countenance fell. And God said to Cain, Why art thou grieved, and why is try countenance fallen? If thou offerest rightly, but dost not divide rightly, hast thou not sinned? Be at peace: thine offering returns to thyself, and thou shalt again possess it. And Cain said to Abel his brother, Let us go into the field. And it came to pass, while they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”17 Ye see, brethren, how envy and jealousy led to the murder of a brother. Through envy, also, our father Jacob fled from the face of Esau his brother.18 Envy made Joseph be persecuted unto death, and to come into bondage.19 Envy compelled Moses to flee from the face of Pharaoh king of Egypt, when he heard these words from his fellow-countryman, “Who made thee a judge or a ruler over us? Wilt thou kill me, as thou didst kill the Egyptian yesterday?”20 On account of envy, Aaron and Miriam had to make their abode without the camp.21 Envy brought down Dathan and Abiram alive to Hades, through the sedition which they excited against God’s servant Moses.22 Through envy, David underwent the hatred not only of foreigners, but was also persecuted by Saul king of Israel.23


But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes.24 Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death.25 Let us set before our eyes the illustrious26 apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity,27 compelled28 to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west,29 and suffered martyrdom under the prefects.30 Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.


To these men who spent their lives in the practice of holiness, there is to be added a great multitude of the elect, who, having through envy endured many indignities and tortures, furnished us with a most excellent example. Through envy, those women, the Danaids31 and Dircae, being persecuted, after they had suffered terrible and unspeakable torments, finished the course of their faith with stedfastness,32 and though weak in body, received a noble reward. Envy has alienated wives from their husbands, and changed that saying of our father Adam, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.”33 Envy and strife have overthrown great cities and rooted up mighty nations.


These things, beloved, we write unto you, not merely to admonish you of your duty, but also to remind ourselves. For we are struggling on the same arena, and the same conflict is assigned to both of us. Wherefore let us give up vain and fruitless cares, and approach to the glorious and venerable rule of our holy calling. Let us attend to what is good, pleasing, and acceptable in the sight of Him who formed us. Let us look steadfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God,34 which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world. Let us turn to every age that has passed, and learn that, from generation to generation, the Lord has granted a place of repentance to all such as would be converted unto Him. Noah preached repentance, and as many as listened to him were saved.35 Jonah proclaimed destruction to the Ninevites;36 but they, repenting of their sins, propitiated God by prayer, and obtained salvation, although they were aliens [to the covenant] of God.


The ministers of the grace of God have, by the Holy Spirit, spoken of repentance; and the Lord of all things has himself declared with an oath regarding it, “As I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of the sinner, but rather his repentance;”37 adding, moreover, this gracious declaration “Repent O house of Israel, of your iniquity.”38 “Say to the children of My people, Though your sins reach from earth to heaven, I and though they be redder39 than scarlet, and blacker than sackcloth, yet if ye turn to Me with your whole heart, and say, Father! I will listen to you, as to a holy40 people.” And in another place He speaks thus: “Wash you, and become clean; put away the wickedness of your souls from before mine eyes; cease from your evil ways, and learn to do well; seek out judgment, deliver the oppressed, judge the fatherless, and see that justice is done to the widow; and come, and let us reason together. He declares, Though your sins be like crimson, I will make them white as snow; though they be like scarlet, I will whiten them like wool. And if ye be willing and obey Me, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse, and will not hearken unto Me, the sword shall devour you, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken these things.”41 Desiring, therefore, that all His beloved should be partakers of repentance, He has, by His almighty will, established [these declarations].


Wherefore, let us yield obedience to His excellent and glorious will; and imploring His mercy and loving-kindness, while we forsake all fruitless labours,42 and strife, and envy, which leads to death, let us turn and have recourse to His compassions. Let us stedfastly contemplate those who have perfectly ministered to His excellent glory. Let us take (for instance) Enoch, who, being found righteous in obedience, was translated, and death was never known to happen to him.43 Noah, being found faithful, preached regeneration to the world through his ministry; and the Lord saved by him the animals which, with one accord, entered into the ark.


Abraham, styled “the friend,”44 was found faithful, inasmuch as he rendered obedience to the words of God. He, in the exercise of obedience, went out from his own country, and from his kindred, and from his father’s house, in order that, by forsaking a small territory, and a weak family, and an insignificant house, he might inherit the promises of God. For God said to him, “Get thee out from thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, into the land which I shall show thee. And I will make thee a great nation, and will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shall be blessed. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”45 And again, on his departing from Lot, God said to him. “Lift up thine eyes, and look from the place where thou now art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth, [so that] if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.”46 And again [the Scripture] saith, “God brought forth Abram, and spake unto him, Look up now to heaven, and count the stars if thou be able to number them; so shall thy seed be. And Abram believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.”47 On account of his faith and hospitality, a son was given him in his old age; and in the exercise of obedience, he offered him as a sacrifice to God on one of the mountains which He showed him.48

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