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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Man, Endued with Liberty, Superior to the Angels, Overcomes Even the Angel Which Lured Him to His Fall, When Repentant and Resuming Obedience to God.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VIII.—Man, Endued with Liberty, Superior to the Angels, Overcomes Even the Angel Which Lured Him to His Fall, When Repentant and Resuming Obedience to God.

For it was not merely that he might live the natural life that God had produced man, but 2809 that he should live virtuously, that is, in relation to God and to His law. Accordingly, God gave him to live when he was formed into a living soul; but He charged him to live virtuously when he was required to obey a law. So also God shows that man was not constituted for death, by now wishing that he should be restored to life, preferring the sinner’s repentance to his death. 2810 As, therefore, God designed for man a condition of life, so man brought on himself a state of death; and this, too, neither through infirmity nor through ignorance, so that no blame can be imputed to the Creator. No doubt it was an angel who was the seducer; but then the victim of that seduction was free, and master of himself; p. 304 and as being the image and likeness of God, was stronger than any angel; and as being, too, the afflatus of the Divine Being, was nobler than that material spirit of which angels were made. Who maketh, says he, His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire2811 He would not have made all things subject to man, if he had been too weak for the dominion, and inferior to the angels, to whom He assigned no such subjects; nor would He have put the burden of law upon him, if he had been incapable of sustaining so great a weight; nor, again, would He have threatened with the penalty of death a creature whom He knew to be guiltless on the score of his helplessness:  in short, if He had made him infirm, it would not have been by liberty and independence of will, but rather by the withholding from him these endowments. And thus it comes to pass, that even now also, the same human being, the same substance of his soul, the same condition as Adam’s, is made conqueror over the same devil by the self-same liberty and power of his will, when it moves in obedience to the laws of God. 2812



Ut non, “as if he were not,” etc.


Ezek. xviii. 23.


Ps. civ. 4.


[On capp. viii. and ix. See Kaye’s references in notes p. 178 et seqq.]

Next: Another Cavil Answered, I.e., the Fall Imputable to God, Because Man's Soul is a Portion of the Spiritual Essence of the Creator. The Divine Afflatus Not in Fault in the Sin of Man, But the Human Will Which Was Additional to It.

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