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to the Corinthians that epistle? And do we possess it in an authentic shape? Both these questions are susceptible of so satisfactory an answer that Thiersch felt justified in saying, "with the exception of the books of the primary Canon (Urkanon), no ancient work is so well accredited as this"; words which are quoted with approval even by Hilgenfeld.1 The first supposed reference to it has been discovered in the Epistle of Polycarp; but the coincidences noted by Hefele do not seem to us to have much weight. The testimony, however, of Irenaeus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, Eusebius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Epiphanius, Jerome, and other later writers, can only be deemed inadequate by those who either have a preconceived theory to serve, or make unreasonable claims on historical evidence. Do we possess the epistle now in its original form? Several writers, as for example, Jer. Bignon, Ed. Bernard, Clericus, Mosheim, have maintained that parts of the epistle are spurious; but their subjective reasons do not stand ground against the objective evidence to the contrary and the arguments of Grotius, Wotton, and many others.
§ 3. Early Opinions regarding Clement and his Epistle.
The epistle, as well as its author, was held in high esteem by the ancient church. Clemens Alexandrinus even styles Clement an apostle. Irenaeus speaks of the epistle as ikaνωτάτη γραφή; Eusebius, as μεγάλη τε καὶ θαυμασία; to its having been publicly read in churches on Sunday, testimony is borne by Dionysius of Corinth, Eusebius, Jerome, and Photius. Several modern writers, too, have bestowed high encomiums on its style. Some passages have a flow and breadth worthy of all recognition; but, like the other productions of the so-called apostolic Fathers, the unity of the epistle is more that of an exhortation than of a treatise.
As the second epistle that bears Clement's name is acknowledged to be spurious, no use has been made of it in the course of the present inquiry.2
1 See Hilgenfeld, "Die Apostolischen Väter, etc."
2 The prolegomena to Dr. Hefele's valuable edition of the apostolic Fathers
II. CONTENTS OF THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS.
From some cause or other, violent discussions had arisen in the church of Corinth, and this letter was written, in the name and at the instance of the church of Rome, to the church of Corinth, to exhort to the termination of a state of things both opposed to the good name of the Corinthian Christians and prejudicial to the cause of the Christian religion in general. The supposition that they were a revival of the disputes referred to in Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians, ch. iii., would seem to be unsustained by Clement's words in c. 47. Clement himself gives no particulars regarding the cause of the quarrel. All that can be gathered from the nature of his exhortations is, that there were some, one or two in particular, who had contentiously risen in opposition to, and caused the removal of, officers of the church, who had been duly elected by the people and had discharged the duties of their position blamelessly (c. 44).1 The exhortations bearing on this state of things
and Prof. Dr. Hilgenfeld's work, "Die Apostolischen Väter, etc.," contain an exhaustive examination of the arguments for and against the points touched upon in the foregoing outline.
1 Various views have been taken of the disturbances which gave rise to the present epistle. Rothe and Thiersch think it was a dispute about the episcopate; Schenkel, a revival of the controversy referred to by Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians; Hilgenfeld thinks the disturbers were men who made pretension to peculiar wisdom and spirituality, and on that ground were haughty and indisposed to submit to any authority, however reasonable. Much that the last-mentioned writer advances is quite to the point, but he fails to explain several features. To our mind, the nearest approach to an explanation of the entire matter is furnished by disputes that have repeatedly occurred in Congregational churches.
Several points seem directly to warrant the supposition that the constitution of the Corinthian church was essentially identical with that of the Independent churches of the present day: 1. The words συνευδοκησάσης τῆς ἐκκλησίας πάσης, which imply the co-operation of the church to an extent allowed by none but Independents. That there was not a complete identity we allow; but why? because the first churches were still in the hands of inspired apostles, or of those whom they had appointed. If the apostles were to appear again, Independents would concede them the same privilege. 2. The word ȧroßáλwμev. How could there have been a casting out, a setting aside, a forced resignation, if the church had not had a democratic constitution? It is worthy too of note, that
constitute the connecting link of the Epistle; but Clement takes occasion to inculcate general principles, and to adduce high examples, by the way. This circumstance, while giving it a digressive character, adds to its interest, and furnishes an insight into the mind both of Clement and the church of his day. Any attempt to introduce a precise method miscarries, owing to passages like those which treat of the resurrection, in cc. 24 to 26. The train of thought is briefly the following. In the first three chapters he describes the good name previously possessed by the Cor
Clement does not blame the &roßáλλew in itself, but merely the ȧroßáλλew τοὺς λειτουργήσαντας ἀμέμπτως τῷ ποιμνίῳ Χριστοῦ ; not that they had required and effected the resignation, but that they had driven away men who had served the flock of Christ blamelessly. 3. Clement speaks throughout as to brethren - -to erring and faulty brethren, -not ex cathedra; which is most natural on the supposition we are supporting. 4. His references to the reverence and obedience due to the ἐπίσκοποι or πρεσβύτεροι are just such as might and do occur in connection with Congregationalists, but are not so fully in harmony with other theories.
We will now describe such a dispute: It not infrequently happens that among the members are some who lay great stress on the doctrine of election; who are thoroughly convinced of their own election; who in consequence are proud and overbearing, especially in their language; whose high pretensions are not confirmed by corresponding deeds; who claim to have a higher holiness and wisdom, while in reality they are very narrow, and often slaves to the flesh; who condemn every one not believing exactly what and as they do; and who on the least occasion go about stirring up mischief. These members are especially hard on the TрEOBUTEрo if they do not give the prominence to their favorite theme which they deem necessary; are particularly indignant if he exhort them to charity and good works; easily forget all respect and order, all the kindness they once showed and always owed; and not seldom succeed in driving away the τοὺς ὁσίως προσέχοντας τὰ δῶρα τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς.
If a sister church were to interfere, as sometimes happens, its warnings and exhortations would not be in an ex cathedra tone; it would admonish to piλoğevía, in the wider sense, towards the peoẞúrepos; it would remind the disturbers of the true characteristics of the elect; would exhort to humility, penitence, submission to God; would say "we are all members of Christ," and it is better for you to go away than to disturb and rend the church, and so forth.
If this picture be compared with the hints, warnings, and exhortations of Clement, numerous points of coincidence will be discovered. In fact, while sketching from the church life of the present day, we have in most instances quoted Clement's own words. Some such quarrel, therefore, may have given rise to the present epistle. The more prominent features are contained in the following passages: cc. 35, and 12. 38. 46. 49. 47. 48. 51. 54. 57. 3. 29.
inthian community, and the sad state into which it had now fallen. Chapters four to six adduce various older and more recent examples of the evil effects produced by that quarrelsome and envious disposition (os) which had been at work among them. Next follows an exhortation to penitence, sustained by assurances of God's readiness to forgive, and a reference to the examples of Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Lot, and Rahab,who found favor with God, through opposed conduct, through faith, obedience, hospitality (cc. 7 – 12). He then especially enjoins humility, and entreats the Corinthians to obey God rather than the authors of the sedition, to adhere to those who love peace in reality and not merely in appearance (cc. 13-15); seeing that Christ (c. 16), the saints, especially Job, Moses (c. 17), and David have set us an example of this virtue (c. 18). Imitating them, therefore, we ought to seek peace (c. 19), especially as the harmony of the world, and the glori ous order of nature show that it is loved by God (c. 20). If we follow evil-doers rather than God, the divine blessings will be a source of condemnation (c. 21). To such conduct Christ exhorts us by his Spirit in the Old Testa ment (c. 22). God will accept those who come to him with simplicity of mind; but at the coming of Christ all shall be punished who are of a doubtful spirit and are puffed up by God's glorious gifts (c. 23). Chapters twenty-four to twentyseven contain a digression on the resurrection, apparently suggested by the idea of Christ's second coming. Inasmuch as God sees all things, we ought to eschew sin, and approach him with sanctity of heart (c. 29). Seeing that we are the portion of the Holy One, we should seek what is holy, put on concord, abstain from quarrels, and seek to justify ourselves rather by works than words (c. 30); our praise should be from God, and not from ourselves. Such alone, and not the bold and proud, are blessed of God. For these reasons were the Fathers accepted by God, though, as they owed all to the grace of God, so too we are justified, not by any wisdom or piety or works of our own, which we may perform in sanctity
of heart, but by that faith by which God has justified all from the beginning (c. 32). But shall we therefore cease from good works? No, for God sets us an example thereof (c. 33). On the contrary, the reward of good works with God is great, and we shall obtain it by doing justly, walking in the way of truth, and renouncing all iniquity (cc. 34. 35). Here Clement sets forth in the strongest terms how it is through Christ, the brightness of God's glory, that we attain salvation and every blessing (c. 36). He is our Head, we are members of his body; we ought, therefore, like good soldiers and members, each to seek the other's good (cc. 37. 38). Seeing that all gifts are from God, we have no ground for being puffed up. Let us then observe the order instituted in the church; for, as under the old economy, so under the new, certain officers have been appointed for certain offices: Christ sent the apostles, and the apostles set over us overseers and deacons (cc. 39-42). It is not a new thing that opposition should arise against the constituted authorities, for even Moses had to allay a strife of the kind (c. 43). The apostles foresaw that dissensions would arise, and took measures accordingly; and it is wrong to set aside presbyters who have been duly elected and have discharged their functions blamelessly (c. 44). If you study the scriptures, the ora cles of the Spirit, you will find that formerly it was the wicked alone who vexed the righteous, whom God glorified with exceeding glory. To these latter, to the just, we ought to cleave; they are the elect of God; but woe to those who rend the one body of Christ (c. 47). Your present dissensions are worse than those rebuked by Paul in his divinely inspired Epistle. Put away these things, then, quickly, return to the Lord, and walk again as before, remembering that to be useful to the brethren is more noble than the best gifts (cc. 48-49). Pray, then, that ye may live in charity (c. 50); and let the disturbers confess their sins (c. 51); for such confession is required by God. Consider how Moses loved Israel, how he was ready rather to perish himself than to see his people perish (c. 53). He,