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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Attempt to Invalidate This Rule of Faith Rebutted. The Apostles Safe Transmitters of the Truth. Sufficiently Taught at First, and Faithful in the Transmission.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXII.—Attempt to Invalidate This Rule of Faith Rebutted. The Apostles Safe Transmitters of the Truth. Sufficiently Taught at First, and Faithful in the Transmission.

But inasmuch as the proof is so near at hand, 2069 that if it were at once produced there would be nothing left to be dealt with, let us give way for a while to the opposite side, if they think that they can find some means of invalidating this rule, just as if no proof were forthcoming from us. They usually tell us that the apostles did not know all things: (but herein) they are impelled by the same madness, whereby they turn round to the very opposite point, 2070 and declare that the apostles certainly knew all things, but did not deliver all things to all persons,—in either case exposing Christ to blame for having sent forth apostles who had either too much ignorance, or too little simplicity. What man, then, of sound mind can possibly suppose that they were ignorant of anything, whom the Lord ordained to be masters (or teachers), 2071 keeping them, as He did, inseparable (from Himself) in their attendance, in their discipleship, in their society, to whom, “when they were alone, He used to expound” all things 2072 which were obscure, telling them that “to them it was given to know those mysteries,” 2073 which it was not permitted the people to understand? Was anything withheld from the knowledge of Peter, who is called “the rock on which the church should be built,” 2074 who also obtained “the keys of the kingdom of heaven,” 2075 with the power of “loosing and binding in heaven and on earth?” 2076 Was anything, again, concealed from John, the Lord’s most beloved disciple, who used to lean on His breast 2077 to whom alone the Lord pointed Judas out as the traitor, 2078 whom He commended to Mary as a son in His own stead? 2079 Of what could He have meant those to be ignorant, to whom He even exhibited His own glory with Moses and Elias, and the Father’s voice moreover, from heaven? 2080 Not as if He thus disapproved 2081 of all the rest, but because “by three witnesses must every word be established.” 2082 After the same fashion, 2083 too, (I suppose,) were they ignorant to whom, after His resurrection also, He vouchsafed, as they were journeying together, “to expound all the Scriptures.” 2084 No doubt 2085 He had once said, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot hear them now;” but even then He added, “When He, the Spirit of truth, shall come, He will lead you into all truth.” 2086 He (thus) shows that there was nothing of which they were ignorant, to whom He had promised the future attainment of all truth by help of the Spirit of truth.  And assuredly He fulfilled His promise, since it is proved in the Acts of the Apostles that the Holy Ghost did come down. Now they who reject that Scripture 2087 can neither belong to the Holy Spirit, seeing that they cannot acknowledge that the Holy Ghost has been sent as yet to the disciples, nor can they presume to claim to be a church themselves 2088 who positively have no means of proving when, and with what swaddling-clothes 2089 this body was established. Of so much importance is it to them not to have any proofs for the things which they maintain, lest along with them there be introduced damaging exposures 2090 of those things which they mendaciously devise.


Footnotes

253:2069

Expedita.

253:2070

Susam rursus convertun.

253:2071

Magistros.

253:2072

Mark iv. 34.

253:2073

Matt. xiii. 11.

253:2074

Matt. xvi. 18. [See Kaye p. 222, also Elucidation II.]

253:2075

Matt. 16.19.

253:2076

Matt. 16.19.

253:2077

John xxi. 20.

253:2078

John xiii. 25. [N.B. loco suo.]

253:2079

John xix. 26.

253:2080

Matt. xvii. 1-8.

253:2081

Reprobans.

253:2082

Deut. 19:15, 2 Cor. 13:1.

253:2083

Itaque, ironical.

253:2084

Luke xxiv. 27.

253:2085

Plane.

253:2086

John 16:12, 13.

253:2087

See Tertullian’s Anti-Marcion, iv. 5, and v. 2 (Trans. pp. 187 and 377).

253:2088

Nec ecclesiam se dicant defendere.

253:2089

Incunabulis, infant nursing.

253:2090

Traductiones.


Next: The Apostles Not Ignorant. The Heretical Pretence of St. Peter's Imperfection Because He Was Rebuked by St. Paul. St. Peter Not Rebuked for Error in Teaching.

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