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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part I: General Conclusion.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXIV.—General Conclusion.

Amid these reefs and inlets, amid these shallows and straits of idolatry, Faith, her sails filled by the Spirit of God, navigates; safe if cautious, secure if intently watchful. But to such as are washed overboard is a deep whence is no out-swimming; to such as are run aground is inextricable shipwreck; to such as are engulphed is a whirlpool, where there is no breathing—even in idolatry. All waves thereof whatsoever suffocate; every eddy thereof sucks down unto Hades. Let no one say, “Who will so safely foreguard himself? We shall have to go out of the world!” 342 As if it were not as well worth while to go out, as to stand in the world as an idolater!  Nothing can be easier than caution against idolatry, if the fear of it be our leading fear; any “necessity” whatever p. 76 is too trifling compared to such a peril. The reason why the Holy Spirit did, when the apostles at that time were consulting, relax the bond and yoke for us, 343 was that we might be free to devote ourselves to the shunning of idolatry. This shall be our Law, the more fully to be administered the more ready it is to hand; (a Law) peculiar to Christians, by means whereof we are recognised and examined by heathens. This Law must be set before such as approach unto the Faith, and inculcated on such as are entering it; that, in approaching, they may deliberate; observing it, may persevere; not observing it, may renounce their name. 344 We will see to it, if, after the type of the Ark, there shall be in the Church raven, kite, dog, and serpent. At all events, an idolater is not found in the type of the Ark: no animal has been fashioned to represent an idolater. Let not that be in the Church which was not in the Ark. 345



1 Cor. v. 10.


Acts xv. 1-31.


i.e., cease to be Christians (Rigalt., referred to by Oehler).


[General references to Kaye (3d edition), which will be useful to those consulting that author’s Tertullian, for Elucidations of the De Idololatria, are as follows: Preface, p. xxiii. Then, pp. 56, 141, 206, 231, 300, 360, 343, 360 and 362.]

Next: Elucidations.

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