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Clement of Alexandria: STROMATA (MISCELLANIES), Part IV, Complete

Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson.

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Wherefore also Moses says, "Show Thyself to me," [3073] --intimating most clearly that God is not capable of being taught by man, or expressed in speech, but to be known only by His own power. For inquiry was obscure and dim; but the grace of knowledge is from Him by the Son. Most clearly Solomon shall testify to us, speaking thus: "The prudence of man is not in me: but God giveth me wisdom, and I know holy things." [3074] Now Moses, describing allegorically the divine prudence, called it the tree of life planted in Paradise; which Paradise may be the world in which all things proceeding from creation grow. In it also the Word blossomed and bore fruit, being "made flesh," and gave life to those "who had tasted of His graciousness;" since it was not without the wood of the tree that He came to our knowledge. For our life was hung on it, in order that we might believe. And Solomon again says: "She is a tree of immortality to those who take hold of her." [3075] "Behold, I set before thy face life and death, to love the Lord thy God, and to walk in His ways, and hear His voice, and trust in life. But if ye transgress the statutes and the judgments which I have given you, ye shall be destroyed with destruction. For this is life, and the length of thy days, to love the Lord thy God." [3076]

Again: "Abraham, when he came to the place which God told him of on the third day, looking up, saw the place afar off." [3077] For the first day is that which is constituted by the sight of good things; and the second is the soul's [3078] best desire; on the third, the mind perceives spiritual things, the eyes of the understanding being opened by the Teacher who rose on the third day. The three days may be the mystery of the seal, [3079] in which God is really believed. It is consequently afar off that he sees the place. For the region of God is hard to attain; which Plato called the region of ideas, having learned from Moses that it was a place which contained all things universally. But it is seen by Abraham afar off, rightly, because of his being in the realms of generation, and he is forthwith initiated by the angel. Thence says the apostle: "Now we see as through a glass, but then face to face," by those sole pure and incorporeal applications of the intellect. In reasoning, it is possible to divine respecting God, if one attempt without any of the senses, by reason, to reach what is individual; and do not quit the sphere of existences, till, rising up to the things which transcend it, he apprehends by the intellect itself that which is good, moving in the very confines of the world of thought, according to Plato.

[3073] Ex. xxxiii. 18.

[3074] Prov. xxx. 2.

[3075] Prov. iii. 18.

[3076] Deut. xxx. 15, 16, etc.

[3077] Gen. xxii. 3, 4.

[3078] Or, "the desire of a very good soul," according to the text which reads He psuches aristes. The other reading is ariste.

[3079] Baptism. [Into the Triad.]

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