Part 4
Chapter 3—Of Original Sin

Section 6—Clemens Alexandrinus. A.D. 190.

Clement of Alexandria, being inclined to the stoic philosophy, it is no wonder that he sometimes speaks of[1] ta ephi' emin,the things that are in our power,” and says what seems to favor man's free will; which passages of his are for this purpose referred to by Dr. Whitby;[2] though it is plain in some places he only speaks of the natural liberty of the will against the Basilidians, and of the power of man to perform the natural and civil actions of life; however, certain it is, that Clement did not hold free will in such a sense, as to set aside the grace of God, and render that useless and unnecessary: yea, he affirms, that free will, without the wings of grace, can neither rise nor fly. In one place he says,[3] “Nor can we obtain the perfection of good without our free choice, nor yet does that wholly lie in our will, such as it shall come to pass, “for by grace we are saved, but not without good works.” And in another place he has this observation,[4] “Whether the Father himself draws unto him, every one that lives purely, and attains to the understanding of happiness, and of the incorruptible nature; or whether our free will coming to the knowledge of that which is good, skips and leaps over the ditches, as is said in the schools, plen ou chiaritos aneu es exairetou pteroutai te kai anistatai kai ano ton uperkeimenon airetai psuchir, yet the soul cannot rise nor fly, nor be lifted up above the things that are on high, without special grace.” He says indeed elsewhere,[5]that we are by nature fit for virtue, yet not so as to have it ex genetes, ‘from our birth,' but we are fit to possess it. His meaning is, I apprehend, that men have a capacity, which irrational and inanimate creatures have not, of possessing virtue, and receiving the grace of God, of which they are destitute when born, and so in this respect are not like stocks and  stones, that are incapable of such things.


[1] Stromat. 1. 1, p. 311, 314; 1. 2, p. 363, 370, 387, 388, 390.

[2] Discourse, etc. p. 96, 346. 348, 351, 385; ed. 2. p. 95, 336, 339, 342, 375.

[3] Stromat. 1. 5, p. 547.

[4] Ibid. p. 588.

[5] Ibid. 1. 6, p. 662.