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ANF03. Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian
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Chapter VI.—The Divine Way of Wisdom, and Greatness, and Might. God’s Hiding of Himself, and Subsequent Revelation. To Marcion’s God Such a Concealment and Manifestation Impossible.  God’s Predestination. No Such Prior System of Intention Possible to a God Previously Unknown as Was Marcion’s. The Powers of the World Which Crucified Christ. St. Paul, as a Wise Master-Builder, Associated with Prophecy.  Sundry Injunctions of the Apostle Parallel with the Teaching of the Old Testament.

By all these statements, therefore, does he show us what God he means, when he says, “We speak the wisdom of God among them that are perfect.”54265426    1 Cor. ii. 6, 7. It is that God who has confounded the wisdom of the wise, who has brought to nought the understanding of the prudent, who has reduced to folly54275427    Infatuavit. the world’s wisdom, by choosing its foolish things, and disposing them to the attainment of salvation. This wisdom, he says, once lay hidden in things that were foolish, weak, and lacking in honour; once also was latent under figures, allegories, and enigmatical types; but it was afterwards to be revealed in Christ, who was set “as a light to the Gentiles,”54285428    Isa. xlii. 6. by the Creator who promised through the mouth of Isaiah that He would discover “the hidden treasures, which eye had not seen.”54295429    Isa. xlv. 3 (Septuagint). Now, that that god should have ever hidden anything who had never made a cover wherein to practise concealment, is in itself a wholly incredible idea. If he existed, concealment of himself was out of the question—to say nothing54305430    Nedum. of any of his religious ordinances.54315431    Sacramenta. The Creator, on the contrary, was as well known in Himself as His ordinances were.  These, we know, were publicly instituted54325432    Palam decurrentia. in Israel; but they lay overshadowed with latent meanings, in which the wisdom of God was concealed,54335433    Delitescebat. to be brought to light by and by amongst “the perfect,” when the time should come, but “pre-ordained in the counsels of God before the ages.”54345434    1 Cor. ii. 7. But whose ages, if not the Creator’s? For because ages consist of times, and times are made up of days, and months, and years; since also days, and months, and years are measured by suns, and moons, and stars, which He ordained for this purpose (for “they shall be,” says He, “for signs of the months and the years”),54355435    Gen. i. 14, inexactly quoted. it clearly follows that the ages belong to the Creator, and that nothing of what was fore-ordained before the ages can be said to be the property of any other being than Him who claims the ages also as His own. Else let Marcion show that the ages belong to his god. He must then also claim the world itself for him; for it is in it that the ages are reckoned, the vessel as it were54365436    Quodammodo. of the times, as well as the signs thereof, or their order. But he has no such demonstration to show us. I go back therefore to the point, and ask him this question: Why did (his god) fore-ordain our glory before the ages of the Creator? I could understand his having predetermined it before the ages, if he had revealed it at the commencement of time.54375437    Introductione sæculi. But when he does this almost at the very expiration of all the ages54385438    Pæne jam totis sæculis prodactis. of the Creator, his predestination before the ages, and not rather within the ages, was in vain, because he did not mean to make any revelation of his purpose until the ages had almost run out their course. For it is wholly inconsistent in him to be so forward in planning purposes, who is so backward in revealing them.

In the Creator, however, the two courses were perfectly compatible—both the predestination before the ages and the revelation at the end thereof, because that which He both fore-ordained and revealed He also in the intermediate space of time announced by the pre-ministration of figures, and symbols, and allegories.  But because (the apostle) subjoins, on the subject of our glory, that “none of the princes of this world knew it, for had they known it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory,”54395439    1 Cor. ii. 8. the heretic argues that the princes of this world crucified the Lord (that is, the Christ of the rival god) in order that this blow might even recoil54405440    Ut et hoc recidat. on the Creator Himself. Any one, however, who has seen from what we have already said how our glory must be regarded as issuing from the Creator, will already have come to the conclusion that, inasmuch as the Creator settled it in His own secret purpose, it properly enough was unknown to all the princes54415441    Virtutibus. and powers of the Creator, on the principle that servants are not permitted to know their masters’ plans, much less the fallen angels and the leader of transgression himself, the devil; for I should contend that these, on account of their fall, were greater strangers still to any knowledge of the Creator’s dispensations. But it is no longer open to me54425442    Sed jam nec mihi competit. even to interpret the princes and powers of this world as the Creator’s, since the apostle imputes ignorance to them, whereas even the devil according to our Gospel recognised Jesus in the temptation,54435443    Matt. iv. 1–11. and, according to the record which is common to both (Marcionites and ourselves) the evil spirit knew that Jesus was the Holy One of God, and that Jesus was His name, and that He was come to destroy them.54445444    Luke iv. 34. The parable also of the strong man armed, whom a stronger than he overcame and seized his goods, is admitted by Marcion to have reference to the Creator:54455445    In Creatoris accipitur apud Marcionem. therefore the Creator could not have been ignorant any longer of the God of glory, since He is overcome by him;54465446    Considered, in the hypothesis, as Marcion’s god. nor could He have crucified him whom He was unable to cope with. The inevitable inference, therefore, as it seems to me, is that we must believe that the princes and powers of the Creator did knowingly crucify the God of glory in His Christ, with that desperation and excessive malice with which the most abandoned slaves do not even hesitate to slay their masters. For it is written in my Gospel54475447    Apud me. that “Satan entered into Judas.”54485448    Luke xxii. 3. According to Marcion, however, the apostle in the passage under consideration54495449    1 Cor. ii. 8. does not allow the imputation of ignorance, with respect to the Lord of glory, to the powers of the Creator; because, indeed, he will have it that these are not meant by “the princes of this world.”  But (the apostle) evidently54505450    Videtur. did not speak of spiritual princes; so that he meant secular ones, those of the princely people, (chief in the divine dispensation, although) not, of course, amongst the nations of the world, and their rulers, and king Herod, and even Pilate, and, as represented by him,54515451    Et quo. that power of Rome which was the greatest in the world, and then presided over by him. Thus the arguments of the other side are pulled down, and our own proofs are thereby built up. But you still maintain that our glory comes from your god, with whom it also lay in secret.  Then why does your god employ the self-same Scripture54525452    Instrumento. which the apostle also relies on? What has your god to do at all with the sayings of the prophets? “Who hath discovered the mind of the Lord, or who hath been His counsellor?”54535453    Isa. xl. 13. So says Isaiah. What has he also to do with illustrations from our God? For when (the apostle) calls himself “a wise master-builder,”54545454    1 Cor. iii. 10. we find that the Creator by Isaiah designates the teacher who sketches54555455    Depalatorem. out the divine discipline by the same title, “I will take away from Judah the cunning artificer,”54565456    So the A.V. of Isa. iii. 3; but the Septuagint and St. Paul use the self-same term, σοφὸς ἀρχιτέκτων. etc. And was it not Paul himself who was there foretold, destined “to be taken away from Judah”—that is, from Judaism—for the erection of Christianity, in order “to lay that only foundation, which is Christ?”54575457    1 Cor. iii. 11. Of this work the Creator also by the same prophet says, “Behold, I lay in Sion for a foundation a precious stone and honourable; and he that resteth thereon shall not be confounded.”54585458    Isa. xxviii. 16. Unless it be, that God professed Himself to be the builder up of an earthly work, that so He might not give any sign of His Christ, as destined to be the foundation of such as believe in Him, upon which every man should build at will the superstructure of either sound or worthless doctrine; forasmuch as it is the Creator’s function, when a man’s work shall be tried by fire, (or) when a reward shall be recompensed to him by fire; because it is by fire that the test is applied to the building which you erect upon the foundation which is laid by Him, that is, the foundation of His Christ.54595459    We add the original of this sentence: “Nisi si structorem se terreni operis Deus profitebatur, ut non de suo Christo significaret, qui futurus esset fundamentum credentium in eum, super quod prout quisque superstruxerit, dignam scilicet vel indignam doctrinam si opus ejus per ignem probabitur, si merces illi per ignem rependetur, creatoris est, quia per ignem judicatur vestra superædificatio, utique sui fundamenti, id est sui Christi.” Tertullian is arguing upon an hypothesis suggested by Marcion’s withdrawal of his Christ from everything “terrene.” Such a process as is described by St. Paul in this passage, 1 Cor. i. 12–15, must be left to the Creator and His Christ. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”54605460    1 Cor. iii. 16. Now, since man is the property, and the work, and the image and likeness of the Creator, having his flesh, formed by Him of the ground, and his soul of His afflatus, it follows that Marcion’s god wholly dwells in a temple which belongs to another, if so be we are not the Creator’s temple. But “if any man defile the temple of God, he shall be himself destroyed”54615461    The text has vitiabitur, “shall be defiled.”—of course, by the God of the temple.54625462    1 Cor. iii. 17. If you threaten an avenger, you threaten us with the Creator. “Ye must become fools, that ye may be wise.”54635463    1 Cor. iii. 18. Wherefore?  “Because the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”54645464    1 Cor. iii. 19. With what God? Even if the ancient Scriptures have contributed nothing in support of our view thus far,54655465    The older reading, “adhuc sensum pristina præjudicaverunt,” we have preferred to Oehler’s “ad hunc sensum,” etc. an excellent testimony turns up in what (the apostle) here adjoins: “For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness; and again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.”54665466    1 Cor. iii. 19, 20; Job v. 13; Ps. xciv. 11. For in general we may conclude for certain that he could not possibly have cited the authority of that God whom he was bound to destroy, since he would not teach for Him.54675467    Si non illi doceret. “Therefore,” says he, “let no man glory in man;”54685468    1 Cor. iii. 21. an injunction which is in accordance with the teaching of the Creator, “wretched is the man that trusteth in man;”54695469    Jer. xvii. 5. again, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to confide in man;”54705470    Ps. cxviii. 8. and the same thing is said about glorying (in princes).54715471    Ps. cxviii. 9.


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