Following are excerpts from an English translation of Clement of Alexandria’s To the Newly Baptized, the earliest known concise address to new church members on growing in grace.
Cultivate quietness in word and deed, and in speech and step. For the mind, seated on high on a quiet throne looking intently toward God, must control the passions. Do not be swept away by bursts of anger, nor nervous movements; so that your quietness may be adorned by good proportion and your bearing may appear something divine and sacred.
Let your speech be gentle toward those you meet, and your greetings kind. Be thoughtful in all your speech, and give back a useful answer. Take care never to speak what you have not weighed and thought through beforehand.
Learn gladly, and teach ungrudgingly. Never hide wisdom from others out of jealousy, nor through false modesty turn aside from instruction. Honor God’s servants. Lead the way in wisdom and virtue. Do not wrangle with your friends, nor scoff at them. Avoid falsehood, guile and insolence. As for arrogant and insolent people, endure them in silence.
Let everything you do be done for God, both deeds and words; and refer all that is yours to Christ.
Constantly turn your soul to God and lean your thoughts on the power of Christ, as if it were resting in some refuge away from all talk and action. Communicate your thoughts to men by day, but more so to God at night as well as by day; for let not much sleep keep you from your prayers and praise to God. Show yourself always a partner of Christ who makes the divine ray shine from heaven; let Christ be to you continual and unceasing joy.
Do not relax the tension of your soul through feasting and indulgence in wine, but consider what is enough for the body. In place of such pleasures, choose the joys that are in divine words and hymns, joys which are supplied to you by wisdom from God; and let heavenly thoughts ever lead you upward to heaven.
Give up the many anxious cares about the body by taking comfort in hope toward God; because for you He will provide all necessary things: food to support life, covering for the body, and protection against winter cold. For to your King belongs the whole earth and all that is produced from it; and God treats the bodily parts of His servants with exceeding care, as if they were His own, like His shrines and temples.
For this reason, do not dread severe diseases, nor the approach of old age, which must be expected in time. Knowing this, make your soul strong. Be of good courage and do not crush your soul by grief, but nobly confront toils with your understanding, rendering thanks to God even in the midst of your struggles.
Since His thoughts are wiser than men’s, pity those who are in distress, and ask for them the help that comes from God; for God will grant grace and will provide succor for those in distress, wishing to make His power known to men, in the hope that, when they have come to full knowledge, they may return to God, and may enjoy eternal blessedness when the Son of God shall appear and restore good things to His own.
Clement of Alexandria, a convert to Christianity in young adulthood, was a clergyman and dean/principal of the foremost Christian institute of learning between AD 192 and 202. Manuscript edited by Dr. David W. T. Brattston.