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ANF03. Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian
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Chapter XXIX.—The Gradual Development of Cosmical Order Out of Chaos in the Creation, Beautifully Stated.

God, indeed, consummated all His works in a due order; at first He paled them out,63996399    Depalans. as it were, in their unformed elements, and then He arranged them64006400    Dedicans: “disposed” them. in their finished beauty. For He did not all at once inundate light with the splendour of the sun, nor all at once temper darkness with the moon’s assuaging ray.64016401    Solatio lunæ: a beautiful expression! The heaven He did not all at once bedeck64026402    Significavit. with constellations and stars, nor did He at once fill the seas with their teeming monsters.64036403    Belluis. The earth itself He did not endow with its varied fruitfulness all at once; but at first He bestowed upon it being, and then He filled it, that it might not be made in vain.64046404    In vacuum: void. For thus says Isaiah: “He created it not in vain; He formed it to be inhabited.”64056405    Isa. xlv. 18. Therefore after it was made, and while awaiting its perfect state,64066406    Futura etiam perfecta. it was “without form, and void:” “void” indeed, from the very fact that it was without form (as being not yet perfect to the sight, and at the same time unfurnished as yet with its other qualities);64076407    De reliquo nondum instructa. and “without form,” because it was still covered with waters, as if with the rampart of its fecundating moisture,64086408    Genitalis humoris. by which is produced our flesh, in a form allied with its own. For to this purport does David say:64096409    Canit: “sing,” as the Psalmist. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and all that dwell therein:  He hath founded it upon the seas, and on the streams hath He established it.”64106410    Ps. xxiv. 1. It was when the waters were withdrawn into their hollow abysses that the dry land became conspicuous,64116411    Emicantior. which was hitherto covered with its watery envelope. Then it forthwith becomes “visible,”64126412    “Visibilis” is here the opposite of the term “invisibilis,” which Tertullian uses for the Scripture phrase “without form.” God saying, “Let the water be gathered together into one mass,64136413    In congregatione una. and let the dry land appear.”64146414    Gen. i. 9.Appear,” says He, not “be made.” It had been already made, only in its invisible condition it was then waiting64156415    Sustinebat: i.e. expectabat (Oehler). to appear. “Dry,” because it was about to become such by its severance from the moisture, but yet “land.” “And God called the dry land Earth,”64166416    Gen. i. 10. not Matter. And so, when it afterwards attains its perfection, it ceases to be accounted void, when God declares, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed after its kind, and according to its likeness, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit, whose seed is in itself, after its kind.”64176417    Ver. 11. Again:  “Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping things, and beasts of the earth, after their kind.”64186418    Ver. 24. Thus the divine Scripture accomplished its full order. For to that, which it had at first described as “without form (invisible) and void,” it gave both visibility and completion. Now no other Matter was “without form (invisible) and void.” Henceforth, then, Matter will have to be visible and complete. So that I must64196419    Volo. see Matter, since it has become visible.  I must likewise recognize it as a completed thing, so as to be able to gather from it the herb bearing seed, and the tree yielding fruit, and that living creatures, made out of it, may minister to my need. Matter, however, is nowhere,64206420    He means, of course, the theoretic “Matter” of Hermogenes. but the Earth is here, confessed to my view.  I see it, I enjoy it, ever since it ceased to be “without form (invisible), and void.” Concerning it most certainly did Isaiah speak when he said, “Thus saith the Lord that created the heavens, He was the God that formed the earth, and made it.”64216421    Isa. xlv. 18. The same earth for certain did He form, which He also made. Now how did He form64226422    Demonstravit: “make it visible.” Tertullian here all along makes form and visibility synonymous. it? Of course by saying, “Let the dry land appear.”64236423    Gen. i. 9. Why does He command it to appear, if it were not previously invisible? His purpose was also, that He might thus prevent His having made it in vain, by rendering it visible, and so fit for use. And thus, throughout, proofs arise to us that this earth which we inhabit is the very same which was both created and formed64246424    Ostensam: “manifested” (see note 10, p. 96.) by God, and that none other was “Without form, and void,” than that which had been created and formed. It therefore follows that the sentence, “Now the earth was without form, and void,” applies to that same earth which God mentioned separately along with the heaven.64256425    Cum cælo separavit: Gen. i. 1.


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