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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part I: Chapter VI.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VI.

Demanding then a law of God, you have that common one prevailing all over the world, engraven on the natural tables to which the apostle too is wont to appeal, as when in respect of the woman’s veil he says, “Does not even Nature teach you?” 399 —as when to the Romans, affirming that the heathen do by nature those things which the law requires, 400 he suggests both natural law and a law-revealing nature. Yes, and also in the first chapter of the epistle he authenticates nature, when he asserts that males and females changed among themselves the natural use of the creature into that which is unnatural, 401 by way of penal retribution for their error.  We first of all indeed know God Himself by the teaching of Nature, calling Him God of gods, taking for granted that He is good, and invoking Him as Judge. Is it a question with you whether for the enjoyment of His creatures, Nature should be our guide, that we may not be carried away in the direction in which the rival of God has corrupted, along with man himself, the entire creation which had been made over to our race for certain uses, whence the apostle says that it too unwillingly became subject to vanity, completely bereft of its original character, first by vain, then by base, unrighteous, and ungodly uses? It is thus, accordingly, in the pleasures of the shows, that the creature is dishonoured by those who by nature indeed perceive that all the materials of which shows are got up belong to God, but lack the knowledge to perceive as well that they have all been changed by the devil. But with this topic we have, for the sake of our own play-lovers, sufficiently dealt, and that, too, in a work in Greek. 402


Footnotes

96:399

1 Cor. xi. 14.

96:400

Rom. ii. 14.

96:401

Rom. i. 26.

96:402

[Plays were regarded as pomps renounced in Baptism.]


Next: Chapter VII.

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