Part 4
Chapter 5—Of Perseverance

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

Clement of Alexandria frequently suggests the stability and permanency of such as have received the grace of God. Thus allegorizing Isaac's sporting with Rebecca his spouse, whom he makes to signify the church; “which has,” says he,[1] a firm and solid name put upon her, upomone, ‘patience; either because she only eis tous aionas menei, abides for ever,' always rejoicing; or because she consists of the patience of believers, who are the members of Christ, and the testimony of them ton eis telos upomeinanton that endure the end.” And in, another place he says,[2] “David cries out, “the righteous shall not be moved for ever,” neither by deceitful words, nor by deceitful pleasure hence neither shall he be moved from his own inheritance, nor shall he be afraid of evil tidings, nor of vain calumny nor of false opinion that is about him.” And elsewhere,[3] speaking of a devout and religious person, he says, that “such a soul ou diorizetai pote tou Theou kat' oudena kairon, shall never at any time be separated from God.” Having cited Psalm 48:12 he gives this sense of the words:[4] “It signifies, I think, that such who have received the word from on high, shall be high as towers, kai bebaios en to to pistei kai to gnosei stesesthui, and shall stand firmly in faith and knowledge.” Both which, namely, faith and knowledge, he often represents as abiding and durable: of the former he has these expressions:[5] “The life of Christians, which we are now giving some instructions about, is a certain system of rational actions, that is, of those things which are taught by the Logos, or Word, adiaptotos energeia, ‘a never-failing energy,' which we indeed have called faith.” And in another place,[6] “Faith, I say, whether it is founded on love or on fear, is something divine, mete upo alles philias kosmikes diaspomenen, mete upo phobon parontos dialuomenen, which cannot be pulled assunder by any other worldly friendship, nor be dissolved by present fear.” And elsewhere,[7] “Faith is ischus eis soterian ‘kai dunamis eis zoen aionion, strength unto salvation, and a power unto everlasting life.” Yea, he observes,[8] “The power of faith is such, that it exceeds every thing that is contrary to it, kai auton olou enistamenou tou kosmou, and even the whole world itself that it stands in the way of it.” To which may be added another passage of Clement's:[9] “I am persuaded that neither death, which is inflicted by persecutors, nor the life which we here live, nor angels, the apostate ones, nor principalities, the principality of Satan, which is the life he chooses, for such are the principalities and powers of darkness, according to him; nor things present, among which we are in this time of life, as the hope of the soldier, the gain of the merchant; nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, by an operation proper to men, resists the faith of him who makes a free choice. Creature, synonymously, is called operation, being our work, and such an operation cannot separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our lord. And as to the continuance of true spiritual knowledge he thus expresses himself:[10] “Divine instruction,” says he, “ktema estin eis aei paramenon, is a possession that abides for ever.” Yea, he speaks of it as what cannot be lost:[11] “To him that has by exercise, proceeding from knowledge,” says he, “got that virtue which cannot be lost, the habit of it becomes natural, and as heaviness to a stone, outos toude e episteme anapobletos, ‘so his knowledge cannot be lost,' neither unwillingly nor willingly; by the power of reason, knowledge, and providence, it is so established that it cannot be lost; through a godly fear it becomes so as that it cannot be lost. The greatest thing therefore is the knowledge of God, because this is so preserved that virtue cannot be lost.” This perseverance of the saints is ascribed by Clement, not to themselves, but to the power and kindness of their Lord. “We shall not fall, says he,[12] “into corruption, who pass through into incorruption, oti anthexetai emon autos, ‘because he sustains us;' for he hath said, and he will do it.” And a little after he says,[13] that “his, that is, Christ's goodness towards them, who through hearing have believed, is ametakinetos se kai arrepes, immoveable, and turns neither one way nor another.” Vossius[14] refers to this writer as favoring the saints' apostasy; who does indeed, in the book[15] referred to, cite Hebrews 10:26, and observes, that those who go on sinning and repenting, repenting and sinning, do not at all differ from such who never believed; and that he knows not which is worse, to sin willfully, or to repent for sin, and sin again; but then he gives no intimations, that he thought that such had ever received the true grace of God, who go on at this rate, and were now fallen from it. I have produced two passages out of the same book in proof of the doctrine of perseverance.


[1] Clement.Paedagog. 1. 1, c. 5, p. 90, 91.

[2] Ibid. Stromat. 1. 6, p. 655.

[3] Ibid. 670.

[4] Ibid. 1. 7, p. 749.

[5] Ibid. Paedagog. 1. 1, c. 13, p. 136.

[6] Ibid. Stromat. 1. 2, p, 372.

[7] Ibid. p. 284.

[8] Ibid. 1. 6, p. 647.

[9] Clement. Strom. 1. 4, p. 512.

[10] Ibid. Paedagog. 1. 1, c. 7, p. 109.

[11] Ibid. Stromat, 1.7, p. 726.

[12] Ibid. Paedagog. 1. 1, c. 9, p. 125.

[13] Ibid. p. 126.

[14] Hist. Pelag. 1. 6, thes. 12, p. 566.

[15] Stromat. 1. 2, p. 385.