Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: This Liberty Vindicated in Respect of Its Original Creation; Suitable Also for Exhibiting the Goodness and the Purpose of God. Reward and Punishment Impossible If Man Were Good or Evil Through Necessity and Not Choice.
Chapter VI.—This Liberty Vindicated in Respect of Its Original Creation; Suitable Also for Exhibiting the Goodness and the Purpose of God. Reward and Punishment Impossible If Man Were Good or Evil Through Necessity and Not Choice.
But although we shall be understood, from our argument, to be only so affirming mans unshackled power over his will, that what happens to him should be laid to his own charge, and not to Gods, yet that you may not object, even now, that he ought not to have been so constituted, since his liberty and power of will might turn out to be injurious, I will first of all maintain that he was rightly so constituted, that I may with the greater confidence commend both his actual constitution, and the additional fact of its being worthy of the Divine Being; the cause which led to mans being created with such a constitution being shown to be the better one. Moreover, man thus constituted will be protected by both the goodness of God and by His purpose, 2771 both of which are always found in concert in our God. For His purpose is no purpose without goodness; nor is His goodness goodness without a purpose, except forsooth in the case of Marcions god, who is purposelessly 2772 good, as we have shown. 2773 Well, then, it was proper that God should be known; it was no doubt 2774 a good and reasonable 2775 thing. Proper also was it that there should be something worthy of knowing God. What could be found so worthy as the image and likeness of God? This also was undoubtedly good and reasonable. Therefore it was proper that (he who is) the image and likeness of God should be formed with a free will and a mastery of himp. 302 self; 2776 so that this very thing—namely, freedom of will and self-command—might be reckoned as the image and likeness of God in him. For this purpose such an essence 2777 was adapted 2778 to man as suited this character, 2779 even the afflatus of the Deity, Himself free and uncontrolled. 2780 But if you will take some other view of the case, 2781 how came it to pass 2782 that man, when in possession of the whole world, did not above all things reign in self-possession 2783 —a master over others, a slave to himself? The goodness of God, then, you can learn from His gracious gift 2784 to man, and His purpose from His disposal of all things. 2785 At present, let Gods goodness alone occupy our attention, that which gave so large a gift to man, even the liberty of his will. Gods purpose claims some other opportunity of treatment, offering as it does instruction of like import. Now, God alone is good by nature. For He, who has that which is without beginning, has it not by creation, 2786 but by nature. Man, however, who exists entirely by creation, having a beginning, along with that beginning obtained the form in which he exists; and thus he is not by nature disposed to good, but by creation, not having it as his own attribute to be good, because, (as we have said,) it is not by nature, but by creation, that he is disposed to good, according to the appointment of his good Creator, even the Author of all good. In order, therefore, that man might have a goodness of his own, 2787 bestowed 2788 on him by God, and there might be henceforth in man a property, and in a certain sense a natural attribute of goodness, there was assigned to him in the constitution of his nature, as a formal witness 2789 of the goodness which God bestowed upon him, freedom and power of the will, such as should cause good to be performed spontaneously by man, as a property of his own, on the ground that no less than this 2790 would be required in the matter of a goodness which was to be voluntarily exercised by him, that is to say, by the liberty of his will, without either favour or servility to the constitution of his nature, so that man should be good 2791 just up to this point, 2792 if he should display his goodness in accordance with his natural constitution indeed, but still as the result of his will, as a property of his nature; and, by a similar exercise of volition, 2793 should show himself to be too strong 2794 in defence against evil also (for even this God, of course, foresaw), being free, and master of himself; because, if he were wanting in this prerogative of self-mastery, so as to perform even good by necessity and not will, he would, in the helplessness of his servitude, become subject to the usurpation of evil, a slave as much to evil as to good. Entire freedom of will, therefore, was conferred upon him in both tendencies; so that, as master of himself, he might constantly encounter good by spontaneous observance of it, and evil by its spontaneous avoidance; because, were man even otherwise circumstanced, it was yet his bounden duty, in the judgment of God, to do justice according to the motions 2795 of his will regarded, of course, as free. But the reward neither of good nor of evil could be paid to the man who should be found to have been either good or evil through necessity and not choice. In this really lay 2796 the law which did not exclude, but rather prove, human liberty by a spontaneous rendering of obedience, or a spontaneous commission of iniquity; so patent was the liberty of mans will for either issue. Since, therefore, both the goodness and purpose of God are 2797 discovered in the gift to man of freedom in his will, it is not right, after ignoring the original definition of goodness and purpose which it was necessary to determine previous to any discussion of the subject, on subsequent facts to presume to say that God ought not in such a way to have formed man, because the issue was other than what was assumed to be 2798 proper for God. We ought rather, 2799 after duly considering that it behoved God so to create man, to leave this consideration unimpaired, and to survey the other aspects of the case. It is, no doubt, an easy process for persons who take offence at the fall of man, before they have looked into the facts of his creation, to impute the blame of what happened to the Creator, without any examination of His purpose. To conclude: the goodness of God, then fully considered from the beginning of His works, will be enough to convince us that nothing evil could p. 303 possibly have come forth from God; and the liberty of man will, after a second thought, 2800 show us that it alone is chargeable with the fault which itself committed.
Ratio, or, “His reason.” We have used both words, which are equally suitable to the Divine Being, as seemed most convenient.301:2772
Irrationaliter, or, “irrationally.”301:2773
See above, book i. chap. xxiii. p. 288.301:2774
Rationale, or, “consistent with His purpose.”302:2776
Sed et alias.302:2782
Animi sui possessione.302:2784
Ex dispositione. The same as the “universa disponendo” above.302:2786
Bonum jam suum, not bonitatem.302:2788
Libripens. The language here is full of legal technicalities, derived from the Roman usage in conveyance of property. “Libripens quasi arbiter mancipationis” (Rigalt.).302:2790
Quoniam (with a subj.) et hoc.302:2791
Our authors word invenitur (in the singular) combines the bonitas and ratio in one view.302:2798
The verb is subj., “deceret.”302:2799
Sed, with oportet understood.303:2800
Recogitata. [Again, a noble Theodicy.]
Next: If God Had Anyhow Checked Man's Liberty, Marcion Would Have Been Ready with Another and Opposite Cavil. Man's Fall Foreseen by God. Provision Made for It Remedially and Consistently with His Truth and Goodness.
Like & share St-Takla.org
© Saint Takla Haymanout Website: Coptic Orthodox Church - Alexandria, Egypt / URL: http://St-Takla.org / Contact us at