The Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, 13–20

Clement  translated by Kirsopp Lake

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13Let us, therefore, be humble-minded, brethren, putting aside all arrogance and conceit and foolishness and wrath, and let us do that which is written (for the Holy Spirit says, “Let not the wise man boast himself in his wisdom, nor the strong man in his strength, nor the rich man in his riches, but he that boasteth let him boast in the Lord, to seek him out and to do judgment and righteousness”), especially remembering the words of the Lord Jesus which he spoke when he was teaching gentleness and longsuffering. 2For he spoke thus: “Be merciful, that ye may obtain mercy. Forgive, that ye may be forgiven. As ye do, so shall it be done unto you. As ye give, so shall it be given unto you. As ye judge, so shall ye be judged. As ye are kind, so shall kindness be shewn you. With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you.” 3With this commandment and with these injunctions let us strengthen ourselves to walk in obedience to his hallowed words and let us be humble-minded, for the holy word says, 4“On whom shall I look, but on the meek and gentle and him who trembles at my oracles.”

14Therefore it is right and holy, my brethren, for us to obey God rather than to follow those who in pride and unruliness are the instigators of an abominable jealousy. 2For we shall incur no common harm, but great danger, if we rashly yield ourselves to the purposes of men who rush into strife and sedition, to estrange us from what is right. 3Let us be kind to one another, according to the compassion and sweetness of our Maker. 4For it is written, “The kind shall inhabit the land, and the guiltless shall be left on it, but they who transgress shall be destroyed from off it.” 5And again he says: “I saw the ungodly lifted high, and exalted as the cedars of Lebanon. And I went by, and behold he was not; and I sought his place, and I found it not. Keep innocence, and look on uprightness; for there is a remnant for a peaceable man.”

15Moreover let us cleave to those whose peacefulness is based on piety and not to those whose wish for peace is hypocrisy. 2For it says in one place: “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” 3And again, “They blessed with their mouth, but cursed in their hearts.” 4And again it says “they loved him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongue, and their heart was not right with him, nor were they faithful in his covenant.” 5Therefore “let the deceitful lips be dumb which speak iniquity against the righteous.” And again, “May the Lord destroy all the deceitful lips, a tongue that speaketh great things, those who say, Let us magnify our tongue, our lips are our own, who is lord over us? 6For the misery of the poor and groaning of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord, I will place him in safety, 7I will deal boldly with him.”

16For Christ is of those who are humble-minded, not of those who exalt themselves over His flock. 2The sceptre of the greatness of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, came not with the pomp of pride or of arrogance, for all his power, but was humble-minded, as the Holy Spirit spake concerning him. For it says, 3“Lord, who has believed our report, and to whom was the arm of the Lord revealed? We declared him before the Lord as a child, as a root in thirsty ground; there is no form in him, nor glory, and we saw him, and he had neither form nor beauty, but his form was without honour, less than the form of man, a man living among stripes and toil, and acquainted with the endurance of weakness; for his face was turned away, he was dishonoured, and not esteemed. 4He it is who beareth our sins, and is pained for us, and we regarded him as subject to pain, and stripes and affliction, 5but he was wounded for our sins and he has suffered for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon him; with his bruises were we healed. 6All we like sheep went astray, each man went astray in his path; 7and the Lord delivered him up for our sins, and he openeth not his mouth because of his affliction. As a sheep he was brought to the slaughter, and as a lamb dumb before its shearer, so he openeth not his mouth. In humiliation his judgment was taken away. 8Who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth. 9For the iniquities of my people is he come to death. 10And I will give the wicked for his burial, and the rich for his death; for he wrought no iniquity, nor was guile found in his mouth. And the Lord’s will is to purify him from stripes. 11If ye make an offering for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived seed. 12And the Lord’s will is to take of the toil of his soul, to show him light and to form him with understanding, to justify a righteous man who serveth many well. And he himself shall bear their sins. 13For this reason shall he inherit many, and he shall share the spoils of the strong; because his soul was delivered to death, and he was reckoned among the transgressors. 14And he bore the sins of many, and for their sins was he delivered up.” 15And again he says himself, “But I am a worm and no man, a reproach of men, and despised of the people. 16All they who saw me mocked me, they spoke with their lips, they shook their heads; He hoped on the Lord, let him deliver him, let him save him, for he hath pleasure in him.” 17You see, Beloved, what is the example which is given to us; for if the Lord was thus humble-minded, what shall we do, who through him have come under the yoke of his grace?

17Let us also be imitators of those who went about “in the skins of goats and sheep,” heralding the coming of Christ; we mean Elijah and Elisha, and moreover Ezekiel, the prophets, and in addition to them the famous men of old. 2Great fame was given to Abraham, and he was called the Friend of God, and he, fixing his gaze in humility on the Glory of God, says “But I am dust and ashes.” 3Moreover it is also written thus concerning Job: “Now Job was righteous and blameless, true, a worshipper of God, and kept himself from all evil.” 4But he accuses himself, saying, “No man is clean from defilement, not even if his life be but for a single day.” 5Moses was called “Faithful with all his house,” and through his ministry God judged Egypt with their scourges and torments; but he, though he was given great glory, did not use great words, but, when an oracle was given to him from the bush, said: “Who am I that thou sendest me? Nay, I am a man of feeble speech, and a slow tongue.” 6And again he says, “But I am as smoke from a pot.”

18But what shall we say of the famous David? Of him said God, “I have found a man after my own heart, David the son of Jesse, I have anointed him with eternal mercy;” 2but he too says to God “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy great mercy, and according to the multitude of thy compassions, blot out my transgression. 3Wash me yet more from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin; for I know my iniquity, and my sin is ever before me. 4Against thee only did I sin, and did evil before thee, that thou mightest be justified in thy words, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. 5For, lo, I was conceived in iniquity, and in sin did my mother bear me. 6For, behold, thou hast loved truth, thou didst make plain to me the secret and hidden things of thy wisdom. 7Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed; thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8Thou shalt make me hear joy and gladness; the bones which have been humbled shall rejoice. 9Turn thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 10Create a clean heart in me, O God, and renew a right spirit in my inmost parts. 11Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. 12Give me back the gladness of thy salvation, strengthen me with thy governing spirit. 13I will teach the wicked thy ways, and the ungodly shall be converted unto thee. 14Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation. 15My tongue shall rejoice in thy righteousness. O Lord, thou shalt open my mouth, and my lips shall tell of thy praise. 16For if thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would have given it; in whole burnt offerings thou wilt not delight. 17The sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit, a broken and a humbled heart God shall not despise.”

19The humility and obedient submission of so many men of such great fame, have rendered better not only us, but also the generations before us, who received his oracles in fear and truth. 2Seeing then that we have received a share in many great and glorious deeds, let us hasten on to the goal of peace, which was given us from the beginning, and let us fix our gaze on the Father and Creator of the whole world and cleave to his splendid and excellent gifts of peace, and to his good deeds to us. 3Let us contemplate him with our mind, let us gaze with the eyes of our soul on his long-suffering purpose, let us consider how free from wrath he is towards all his creatures.

20The heavens moving at his appointment are subject to him in peace; 2day and night follow the course allotted by him without hindering each other. 3Sun and moon and the companies of the stars roll on, according to his direction, in harmony, in their appointed courses, and swerve not from them at all. 4The earth teems according to his will at its proper seasons, and puts forth food in full abundance for men and beasts and all the living things that are on it, with no dissension, and changing none of his decrees. 5The unsearchable places of the abysses and the unfathomable realms of the lower world are controlled by the same ordinances. 6The hollow of the boundless sea is gathered by his working into its allotted places, and does not pass the barriers placed around it, but does even as he enjoined on it; 7for he said “Thus far shalt thou come, and thy waves shall be broken within thee.” 8The ocean, which men cannot pass, and the worlds beyond it, are ruled by the same injunctions of the Master. 9The seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter give place to one another in peace. 10The stations of the winds fulfil their service without hindrance at the proper time. The everlasting springs, created for enjoyment and health, supply sustenance for the life of man without fail; and the smallest of animals meet together in concord and peace. 11All these things did the great Creator and Master of the universe ordain to be in peace and concord, and to all things does he do good, and more especially to us who have fled for refuge to his mercies through our Lord Jesus Christ, 12to whom[10] be the glory and the majesty for ever and ever, Amen.

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  • [10] The Latin has per quem deo et patri, "through whom to God and the Father."