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OF THE FIRST EPISTLE OF ST. CLEMENT TO THE CORINTHIANS.
Of the value which the antients put upon this Epistle. Of St. Cle
ment himself, who was the author of it ; that it was the same Clement of whom St. Paul speaks, Phil. iv. 3. Of his conversion to Christianity : when he became Bishop of Rome, as also whether he suffered Martyrdom, uncertain. Of the occasion of his writing this Epistle, and the two main parts of it, Of the time when it was written." That there is no reason to doubt but that the Epistle we now have was written by St. Clement; the objection of Tentzelius against it of no force. How this Epistle was first published by Mr. Patrick Young; and translated by Mr. Burton into English. Of the present edition of it.
1. THE first tract which begins this collection, and perhaps the most worthy too, is that admirable, or as some of the antients have called it, that wonderful(a) Epistle of St. Clement to the Corinthians; which he wrote, not in his own name, but in the name of the whole church of Rome, to them. An Epistle so highly esteemed by the primitime church, that we are told it was wont to be publicly read in the assemblies(b) of it: and if we may credit one of the antient collections(c) of the canon of scripture, was placed among the sacred and inspired writings. Nor is it any small evidence of the value which in those days was put upon this Epistle, that in the only copy which for ought we know at this day remains of it, we find it to have been written in the same volume(d) with the, books of the New Testament : which seems to confirm what was before observed concerning it; that it was heretofore wont to be read in the congregations, together with the holy scriptures of the Apostles and Evangelists.
2. But of the Epistle itself, I shall take occasion to speak more particularly by and by. It will now bę
(a) Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. iii. cap. 16.
more proper to inquire a little into the author of it; and consider when, and upon whať occasion, it was written by him.
3. And first for what concerns the person who wrote this Epistle; it is no small commendation which the Holy Ghost by St. Paul has left us of him, Phil. iv. 3. where the Apostle mentions him not only as his fellow labourer in the work of the Gospel; but as one whose name was written in the book of life. A character which if we will allow our Saviour to be the judge, far exceeds that of the highest power and dignity; and who therefore when his disciples began to rejoice upon the account of that authority which he had bestowed upon them, insomuch that even the Devils were subject unto them, Luke x. 17. though he seemed to allow that there was a just matter of joy in such an extraordinary power, yet bade them not to rejoice so much in this, that those spirits were subject unto them ; but rather, says he, rejoice that your names are written in the book of life.
4. It is indeed insinuated by a late very learned critic,(e) as if this were not that Clement of whom we are now discoursing, and whose Epistle to the Corinthians I have here subjoined: but besides that, he himself confesses, that the person of whom St. Paul there speaks was a Roman; both Eusebius(f) and Epiphanius, and St. Hierome, expressly tell us that the Clement there meant was the same that was afterwards Bishop of Rome; nor do we read of any other to whom either the character there mentioned, of being the fellow labourer of that Apostle, or the eulogy given of having his name written in the book of life, could so properly belong as to him ; whom therefore the generality of learned men both of the antient and present times, without scruple, conclude to have been referred to in that passage.
(c) Grot. Annot. in Phil. iv. 3.
CÍ) Euseh. Hist. Eccles. lib. iii. cap. 12. Epiph. lib. i. Adv. Carpocr. n. 6. Hieronym. de script. Eccles. et Comment. in loc. Item. Lib 1. adv. Jovin. Photii. Cod Tem, 113, &c.
5. I shall not say any thing of what is reported by some( 8 ) concerning his noble birth and family; of his studies at Athens; and of the occasion and manner of his conversion to Christianity; which they tell us, was wrought by St. Peter, whom he met with Barnabas at Cæsarea; and who there first declared to him the doctrine of Christ, and inclined him to a good opinion of it. All which is very uncertain, and justly doubted of by many. I shall choose rather to observe that whatever his condition was before he became a Christian, he was held in no small reputation after; but merited such a character from the antient fathers, as is hardly given to any besides the Apostles. Nay, some of them doubt not in plain terms to call him an Apostle ;(h) and though St. Hierome durst not go so far as that, yet he gives him another title but little - short of it; he(i) tells us that he was an Apostolical man, and as Ruffinus(k) adds almost an Apostle.
6. To declare more particularly how he spent the first part of his life, after his conversion, is neither necessary to the design I have now in hand, nor can any certain account be given of it. Only as we are told in the general, that he was St. Peter's disciple, so it may not be improbable that for some time he attended his motions, and was subject to his direction.
7. But whatever he was, or wherever he laboured before, in this I think antiquity is absolutely agreed, that he at last came to be Bishop of Rome; and was placed in that See by the express direction of one, or both the Apostles, St. Peter, and St. Paul. To whom he succeeded, or at what time to fix his entrance on that great charge, is a point that I suppose will never be agreed upon among learned men. If any could have settled this matter beyond dispute, it had with
(8) Vid. Eucher. Lugd. de contempt. Mundi, and Chron. Albert Stad. inter Testimonia a Junio citata.
(h) Clem. Alex. Strom. lib. iv.
out question been done by those() of our own nation who as they have the latest searched with all possible diligence into it, so never were there any better qualified for the determination of it. But as their mutual disagreement,(m) after all their endeavours to fix this point, shews that one of them must have been mistaken; so I doubt not but it will sufficiently satisfy all such as shall consider the high character they have so justly obtained both by their learning and judgment in these kind of disquisitions, and they are points not to be determined; and that he who shall do the best upon them, may only be said to have made a good guess, in a subject too hard for any at this distance clearly to decide(n)
8. Nor is there any less controversy among learned men concerning the death of St. Clement, than there has been about the order and time of his sucession to his Bishopric. That he lived in expectation of martyrdom, and was ready to have undergone it, should it have pleased God to have called him to it, the Epistle(o) we are now speaking of, sufficiently shews us. But that he did glorify God by those particular sufferings which some have pretended, is I confess to me a matter of some doubt. For first, it must be acknowledged that Ruffinus(p) is one of the first authors we have that speaks of him as a martyr. Neither Eusebius(I) (who is usually very exact in his observations of such things) nor any of the fathers yet nearer his time, as Iranæus, Clemens, Alexandrinus, Turtullian, &c. take any notice of it. And for the account which some others have yet more lately given us of the manner of his death, besides that in some parts it is altogether fabulous; it is not improbable, but that
(1) Pearson Dissert. de Success. prim. R R. P P. cum. Append. Hen. Dociwelli. Pearson, dissert. Posthum. Cap v. Num. 7.
(m) Dodwelli. Ilissert. singul. cap. xv. pag. 220.
as our learned Mr. Dodwell(r) has observed, the first rise of it may have been owing to their confounding Flavius Clemens the Roman counsel, with Clement, Bishop of Rome : who did indeed(s) suffer martyrdom for the faith about the time of which they speak; and some other parts of whose character, such as his relation to the emperor, and banishment into Pontus, they manifestly ascribe to him.
9. However, seeing Eusebius(t) refers hi death to the third year of Trajan, famous for the persecution of the church, and may thereby seem to insinuate that Clement also then suffered among the rest ; and that Simeon Metaphrastes(u) has given a long and particular account of his condemnation to the mines first and then of his death following thereupon: as I shall not determine any thing against it, so they who are desirous to know what is usually said concerning the passions of this holy man, may abundantly satisfy their curiosity in this particular, from the accurate col-. lection of Dr. Cave in the life of this Saint; too long to be transcribed into the present discourse.
10. And this may suffice to have been observed in short concerning St. Clement himself: as for the Epistle we are now speaking of to the Corinthians, I have already taken notice how great a value was put upon it in the most primitive ages of the church, and what a mighty commendation has been left us of it, by the writers of those times. Nor indeed does it at all come short of the highest praises which they have given to it; being a piece composed with such an admirable spirit of love and charity ; of zeal towards God, and concern for the church of Christ ; of the most excellent exhortations, delivered with the greatest plainness and simplicity of speech, and yet pressed many times with
(r) Dodwel. Addit. ad Cap. vi. Dissert. Posthum. Pearson, Num. 22. pag. 215.
(s) Vid. Euseb. Chro. Ano. xcvii. Et in Euseb. Annot. Scalig: p. 205. b. Euseb. Hist. Eccles. Lib. iij. cap. 18.
(1) Euseb. Hist. Eccles. Lib. iii. cap. 34.