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Clement of Alexandria: INSTRUCTOR (PAEDAGOGUS) - Part II, Complete

Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson.

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Wherefore also the Lord Himself is anointed with an ointment, as is mentioned by David: "Wherefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows; myrrh, and stacte, and cassia from thy garments." [1462] But let us not unconsciously abominate unguents, like vultures or like beetles (for these, they say, when smeared with ointment, die); and let a few unguents be selected by women, such as will not be overpowering to a husband. For excessive anointings with unguents savour of a funeral and not of connubial life. Yet oil itself is inimical to bees and insects; and some men it benefits, and some it summons to the fight; and those who were formerly friends, when anointed with it, it turns out to deadly combat.

Ointment being smooth oil, do you not think that it is calculated to render noble manners effeminate? Certainly. And as we have abandoned luxury in taste, so certainly do we renounce voluptuousness in sights and odours; lest through the senses, as through unwatched doors, we unconsciously give access into the soul to that excess which we have driven away. If, then, we say that the Lord the great High Priest offers to God the incense of sweet fragrance, let us not imagine that this is a sacrifice and sweet fragrance of incense; [1463] but let us understand it to mean, that the Lord lays the acceptable offering of love, the spiritual fragrance, on the altar.

[1462] Ps. xlv. 7, 8.

[1463] [Considering the use of incense in Hebrew worship, and the imagery of the Apocalypse, the emphasis with which the Fathers reject material incense, is to be noted.]

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