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Clemens

christian, church, philosophy and writings

CLEMENS, Trrus FLAVMS, a celebrated father of the Christian church, was born probably at Athens, and resided during the greater part of his life in Alexandria, whence the epithet Alexandrinus. He flourished at the close of the 2d and the begin ning of the 3d century. In his earlier years, he devoted himself with great zeal to the study of philosophy. His love of knowledge induced him to visit Greece. Italy, Syria, Palestine, and other countries. It is not known at what precise period he was converted from heathenism; but it is certain that after coming to Egypt, and listening to the prelec tions of he joined the Alexandrine church, and was made apresbyter. After wards he became assistant to his master, who held the office of catechist. In 202 A.D., the persecution of the Christians under Severus compelled him to flee to Palestine. He is supposed to have returned to Alexandria about 206, and in 211 succeeded Pantmnus. The year of his death is differently stated; some writers think it probable he died 213 A.D.: others as late as 220. His most distinguished pupil was Origen.

C. was a very fertile writer. The chief productions of his which have survived are the Protrepticus, Parlagogus, and Stromata—which together form one large work. The first is all exhortation to the heathen to abandon idolatry; the second, an exposition of Christian ethics; and the third, a collection of treatises and brief observations on Greek and Christian literature. They show that C., when he became a Christian, did not

cease to lie a philosopher; instead of railing at science, he felt himself bound to make use of it, wherever it was helpful , in the elucidation of the higher questions of religion. Among the fathers, Biblical criticism, in the strict sense of the term, was unknown, and speculative philosophy was the only critical instrument in their possession. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, if much that is fantastic and absurd is to be found in their writings. C. certainly displays no lack of uncritical errors; but it is equally certain that the introduction of philosophy into Christianity helped to preserve the church from lapsing into the narrowness and ceremonialism of Jewish worship. The impression which we gather from C.'s writings, is that he was a man of broad, earnest sympathies, sincere piety, and liberal views in regard to the purposes of God's providence. This catholicity of mind procured him the .accusation of heresy, and lost him the title of saint. C. was also a writer of Christian hymns, one of which, addressed to the Redeemer, is preserved. His collective works were first published at Florence in 1550.