St Clement of Alexandria: Are You Partaking of His Grace?

Feast of the Holy Martyr Glyceria

Clement_Alex_Square.jpgSEE HOW MIGHTY is the new song! It has made men out of stones and men out of wild beasts. They who were otherwise dead, who had no share in the real and true life, revived when they but heard the song. Furthermore, it is this which composed the entire creation into melodious order, and tuned into concert the discord of the elements, that the whole universe might be in harmony with it. The ocean it left flowing, yet has prevented it from encroaching upon the land; whereas the land, which was being carried away, it made firm, and fixed as a boundary to the sea. Aye, and it softened the rage of fire by air, as one might blend the Dorian mode with the Lydian [The Dorian mode is solemn, like our minor scale; the Lydian is bright]; and the biting coldness of air it tempered by the intermixture of fire, thus melodiously mingling these extreme notes of the universe. What is more, this pure song, the stay of the universe and the harmony of all things, stretching from the center to the circumference and from the extremities to the center, reduced this whole to harmony, not in accordance with Thracian music, which resembles that of Jubal (cf. Gen. 4.21), but in accordance with the fatherly purpose of God, which David earnestly sought. He who sprang from David and yet was before him, the Word of God, scorned those lifeless instruments of lyre and harp. By the power of the Holy  Spirit He arranged in harmonious order this great world, yes, and the little world of man too, body and soul together; and on this many-voiced instrument of the universe He makes music to God, and sings to the human instrument. “For thou art my harp and my pipe and my temple” (source unknown; possibly a fragment from an early Christian hymn; cf. Ps. 57.8 and 1 Cor. 6.19)—my harp by reason of the music, my pipe by reason of the breath of the Spirit, my temple by reason of the Word—God’s purpose being that the music should resound, the Spirit inspire, and the temple receive its Lord. Moroever, King David the harpist, whom we mentioned just above, urged us toward the truth and away from idols. So far was he from singing the praises of demons that they were put to flight by him with the true music; and when Saul was possessed, David healed him merely by playing the harp (1 Sam. 16.23). The Lord fashioned man a beautiful, breathing instrument, after His own image; and assuredly He Himself is an all-harmonious instrument of God, melodious and holy, the wisdom that is above this world, the heavenly Word.

What then is the purpose of this instrument, the Word of God, the Lord, and the New Song? To open the eyes of the blind, to unstop the ears of the deaf, and to lead the halt and erring into the way of righteousness; to reveal God to foolish men, to make an end of corruption, to vanquish death, to reconcile disobedient sons to the Father. The instrument of God is loving to men. The Lord pities, chastens, exhorts, admonishes, saves and guards us; and, over and above this, promises the kingdom of heaven as reward for our discipleship, while the only joy he has of us is that we are saved. For wickedness feeds upon the corruption of men; but truth, like the bee, does no harm to anything in the world, but takes delight only in the salvation of men. You have then God’s promise; you have His love to man: partake of His grace.

—St Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks

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