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Clement’s enthusiasm comes from debate with false gnostics and from the mixture of Paul and Plato that dominates his teaching. His ascetic tendencies are evident in sobriety, self-control and freedom from the passions, which join humanity to God. Here he joins with the philosophers against the gnostics, who claimed affinity with God and yet indulged their passions. Clement’s presentation of gnostic morality has been criticized on the basis of the ascetism of the Nag Hammadi writings. Yet he names specific leaders and practices Strom. III, 2, Sacramento Subway Map 5-6; III, 4, 25-5, 44, and declares that the splendid freedom of the heretics is incompatible with the furtive dissimulation of their misdeeds Strom. III, 4, 30. However, he tenaciously defends marriage against the gnostic form of asceticism. Marriage is a life of greater day-to-day stress than the tranquillity of celibacy Strom. VII, 12, 70, and a spiritual union that anticipates the heavenly life Strom. VI, 12, and VII, 12-13.
Despite many similarities between Clement and the Sentences of Sextus, the latter’s ascetic exertion is much more severe; he demands every possible renunciation of the body and exhibits the Pythagorean soma-sema. In contrast with Clement, his attitude to riches is extremely negative; love of money is a trap: Sacramento Subway Map the wise man will possess no private property other than his virtue 79, 81, and private property is impossible for those who are brothers under the one heavenly Father 228. Assimilation to God remains the main goal of ethical endeavor: the soul must always live in the presence of God while it aims at sinless perfection 8, 234, 237. It leaves the world behind and ascends to God by faith 402, through his Word 420. The wise man is God among human beings 376a, and his soul incorporates God 82d.
This assimilation is always possible thanks to a severe renunciation of the body’s needs; every sexual desire must be destroyed 232-233. Those who wish to be more closely united with God must renounce marriage; on the other hand, family life is not incompatible with the wise man’s life as long as he is aware of its dangers 230a, 230b. Death is a welcome liberation of the soul from the burden of the body 320. Faith is the basis of a good life 6, 400, Sacramento Subway Map 402; the believer is set free 36 and prevails over the world and human beings 43, 182. Sextus gives a narrower description of love than Clement: love is directed toward anyone whose soul resembles 106a God 106b and truth 158. To love God means to carry out his will 442, and to love another wise man is to love oneself 219, 226.
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