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ANF03. Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian
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Chapter XIII.—The Epistle to the Romans. St. Paul Cannot Help Using Phrases Which Bespeak the Justice of God, Even When He is Eulogizing the Mercies of the Gospel. Marcion Particularly Hard in Mutilation of This Epistle. Yet Our Author Argues on Common Ground. The Judgment at Last Will Be in Accordance with the Gospel. The Justified by Faith Exhorted to Have Peace with God. The Administration of the Old and the New Dispensations in One and the Same Hand.

Since my little work is approaching its termination,57855785    Profligatur. I must treat but briefly the points which still occur, whilst those which have so often turned up must be put aside. I regret still to have to contend about the law—after I have so often proved that its replacement (by the gospel)57865786    Concessionem. affords no argument for another god, predicted as it was indeed in Christ, and in the Creator’s own plans57875787    Apud Creatorem. ordained for His Christ. (But I must revert to that discussion) so far as (the apostle leads me, for) this very epistle looks very much as if it abrogated57885788    Excludere. the law. We have, however, often shown before now that God is declared by the apostle to be a Judge; and that in the Judge is implied an Avenger; and in the Avenger, the Creator. And so in the passage where he says: “I am not ashamed of the gospel (of Christ): for it is the power of god unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek; for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith,”57895789    Rom. i. 16, 17. he undoubtedly ascribes both the gospel and salvation to Him whom (in accordance with our heretic’s own distinction) I have called the just God, not the good one. It is He who removes (men) from confidence in the law to faith in the gospel—that is to say,57905790    Utique. His own law and His own gospel. When, again, he declares that “the wrath (of God) is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness,”57915791    Rom. i. 18. (I ask) the wrath of what God? Of the Creator certainly. The truth, therefore, will be His, whose is also the wrath, which has to be revealed to avenge the truth. Likewise, when adding, “We are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth,”57925792    Rom. ii. 2. he both vindicated that wrath from which comes this judgment for the truth, and at the same time afforded another proof that the truth emanates from the same God whose wrath he attested, by witnessing to His judgment. Marcion’s averment is quite a different matter, that57935793    Aliud est si. the Creator in anger avenges Himself on the truth of the rival god which had been detained in unrighteousness. But what serious gaps Marcion has made in this epistle especially, by withdrawing whole passages at his will, will be clear from the unmutilated text of our own copy.57945794    Nostri instrumenti. It is enough for my purpose to accept in evidence of its truth what he has seen fit to leave unerased, strange instances as they are also of his negligence and blindness. If, then, God will judge the secrets of men—both of those who have sinned in the law, and of those who have sinned without law (inasmuch as they who know not the law yet do by nature the things contained in the law)57955795    Rom. ii. 12–16.—surely the God who shall judge is He to whom belong both the law, and that nature which is the rule57965796    Instar legis: “which is as good as a law to them,” etc. to them who know not the law. But how will He conduct this judgment?  “According to my gospel,” says (the apostle), “by (Jesus) Christ.”57975797    Rom. ii. 16. So that both the gospel and Christ must be His, to whom appertain the law and the nature which are to be vindicated by the gospel and Christ—even at that judgment of God which, as he previously said, was to be according to truth.57985798    Rom. ii. 2. The wrath, therefore, which is to vindicate truth, can only be revealed from heaven by the God of wrath;57995799    Rom. i. 18. so that this sentence, which is quite in accordance with that previous one wherein the judgment is declared to be the Creator’s,58005800    See the remarks on verses 16 and 17 above. cannot possibly be ascribed to another god who is not a judge, and is incapable of wrath. It is only consistent in Him amongst whose attributes are found the judgment and the wrath of which I am speaking, and to whom of necessity must also appertain the media whereby these attributes are to be carried into effect, even the gospel and Christ. Hence his invective against the transgressors of the law, who teach that men should not steal, and yet practise theft themselves.58015801    Rom. ii. 21. (This invective he utters) in perfect homage58025802    Ut homo. to the law of God, not as if he meant to censure the Creator Himself with having commanded58035803    Ex. iii. 22. a fraud to be practised against the Egyptians to get their gold and silver at the very time when He was forbidding men to steal,58045804    Ex. xx. 15; see above, book iv. chap. xxiv. p. 387.—adopting such methods as they are apt (shamelessly) to charge upon Him in other particulars also. Are we then to suppose58055805    Scilicet verebatur. that the apostle abstained through fear from openly calumniating God, from whom notwithstanding He did not hesitate to withdraw men? Well, but he had gone so far in his censure of the Jews, as to point against them the denunciation of the prophet, “Through you the name of God is blasphemed (among the Gentiles).”58065806    Rom. ii. 24. But how absurd, that he should himself blaspheme Him for blaspheming whom he upbraids them as evil-doers! He prefers even circumcision of heart to neglect of it in the flesh. Now it is quite within the purpose of the God of the law that circumcision should be that of the heart, not in the flesh; in the spirit, and not in the letter.58075807    Rom. ii. 29. Since this is the circumcision recommended by Jeremiah: “Circumcise (yourselves to the Lord, and take away) the foreskins of your heart;”58085808    Jer. iv. 4. and even of Moses: “Circumcise, therefore, the hardness of your heart,”58095809    Deut. x. 16 (Sept.).—the Spirit which circumcises the heart will proceed from Him who prescribed the letter also which clips58105810    Metens. the flesh; and “the Jew which is one inwardly” will be a subject of the self-same God as he also is who is “a Jew outwardly;”58115811    Rom. ii. 28. because the apostle would have preferred not to have mentioned a Jew at all, unless he were a servant of the God of the Jews. It was once58125812    Tunc. the law; now it is “the righteousness of God which is by the faith of (Jesus) Christ.”58135813    Rom. iii. 21, 22. What means this distinction? Has your god been subserving the interests of the Creator’s dispensation, by affording time to Him and to His law? Is the “Now” in the hands of Him to whom belonged the “Then”? Surely, then, the law was His, whose is now the righteousness of God. It is a distinction of dispensations, not of gods.  He enjoins those who are justified by faith in Christ and not by the law to have peace with God.58145814    Tertullian, by the word “enjoins” (monet), seems to have read the passage in Rom. v. 1 in the hortatory sense with ἔχωμεν, “let us have peace with God.” If so, his authority must be added to that exceedingly strong ms. authority which Dean Alford (Greek Test. in loc.) regrets to find overpowering the received reading of ἔχομεν, “we have,” etc. We subjoin Alford’s critical note in support of the ἔχωμεν, which (with Lachmann) he yet admits into his more recent text: “AB (originally) CDKLfh (originally) m 17 latt (including F-lat); of the versions the older Syriac (Peschito) (and Copt;of the fathers, Chrysostom, Cyril, Theodoret, Damascene, Thephylact, Œcumenius, Rufinus, Pelagius, Orosius, Augustine, Cassiodorus,” before whom I would insert Tertullian, and the Codex Sinaiticus, in its original state; although, like its great rival in authority, the Codex Vaticanus, it afterwards received the reading ἔχομεν. These second readings of these mss., and the later Syriac (Philoxenian), with Epiphanius, Didymus, and Sedulius, are the almost only authorities quoted for the received text.  [Dr. H. over-estimates the “rival” Codices.] With what God? Him whose enemies we have never, in any dispensation,58155815    Nusquam. been? Or Him against whom we have rebelled, both in relation to His written law and His law of nature? Now, as peace is only possible towards Him with whom there once was war, we shall be both justified by Him, and to Him also will belong the Christ, in whom we are justified by faith, and through whom alone God’s58165816    Ejus. enemies can ever be reduced to peace.  “Moreover,” says he, “the law entered, that the offence might abound.”58175817    Rom. v. 20. And wherefore this? “In order,” he says, “that (where sin abounded), grace might much more abound.”58185818    Rom. v. 20. Whose grace, if not of that God from whom also came the law? Unless it be, forsooth, that58195819    Nisi si: an ironical particle. the Creator intercalated His law for the mere purpose of58205820    Ideo ut. producing some employment for the grace of a rival god, an enemy to Himself (I had almost said, a god unknown to Him), “that as sin had” in His own dispensation58215821    Apud ipsum. “reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto (eternal) life by Jesus Christ,”58225822    Rom. v. 21. His own antagonist! For this (I suppose it was, that) the law of the Creator had “concluded all under sin,”58235823    Gal. iii. 22. and had brought in “all the world as guilty (before God),” and had “stopped every mouth,”58245824    Rom. iii. 19. so that none could glory through it, in order that grace might be maintained to the glory of the Christ, not of the Creator, but of Marcion! I may here anticipate a remark about the substance of Christ, in the prospect of a question which will now turn up. For he says that “we are dead to the law.”58255825    Rom. vii. 4, also Gal. ii. 19. This (although a quotation) is here a Marcionite argument; but there is no need to suppose, with Pamelius, that Marcion tampers with Rom. vi. 2. Oehler also supposes that this is the passage quoted. But no doubt it is a correct quotation from the seventh chapter, as we have indicated. It may be contended that Christ’s body is indeed a body, but not exactly58265826    Statim (or, perhaps, in respect of the derivation), “firmly” or “stedfastly.” flesh. Now, whatever may be the substance, since he mentions “the body of Christ,”58275827    Ejus. whom he immediately after states to have been “raised from the dead,”58285828    Rom. vii. 4. none other body can be understood than that of the flesh,58295829    In this argument Tertullian applies with good effect the terms “flesh” and “body,” making the first [which he elsewhere calls the “terrena materia” of our nature (ad Uxor. i. 4)] the proof of the reality of the second, in opposition to Marcion’s Docetic error. “Σὰρξ is not = σῶμα, but as in John i. 14, the material of which man is in the body compounded” (Alford). in respect of which the law was called (the law) of death.58305830    Compare the first part of ver. 4 with vers. 5 and 6 and viii. 2, 3. But, behold, he bears testimony to the law, and excuses it on the ground of sin:  “What shall we say, therefore? Is the law sin? God forbid.”58315831    Rom. vii. 7. Fie on you, Marcion. “God forbid!”  (See how) the apostle recoils from all impeachment of the law. I, however, have no acquaintance with sin except through the law.58325832    This, which is really the second clause of Rom. vii. 7, seems to be here put as a Marcionite argument of disparagement to the law. But how high an encomium of the law (do we obtain) from this fact, that by it there comes to light the latent presence of sin!58335833    Per quam liquuit delictum latere: a playful paradox, in the manner of our author, between liquere and latere. It was not the law, therefore, which led me astray, but “sin, taking occasion by the commandment.”58345834    Rom. vii. 8. Why then do you, (O Marcion,) impute to the God of the law what His apostle dares not impute even to the law itself? Nay, he adds a climax: “The law is holy, and its commandment just and good.”58355835    Rom. vii. 13. Now if he thus reverences the Creator’s law, I am at a loss to know how he can destroy the Creator Himself. Who can draw a distinction, and say that there are two gods, one just and the other good, when He ought to be believed to be both one and the other, whose commandment is both “just and good?” Then, again, when affirming the law to be “spiritual”58365836    Rom. vii. 14. he thereby implies that it is prophetic, and that it is figurative. Now from even this circumstance I am bound to conclude that Christ was predicted by the law but figuratively, so that indeed He could not be recognised by all the Jews.


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