Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: If, After Man's Sin, God Exercised His Attribute of Justice and Judgment, This Was Compatible with His Goodness, and Enhances the True Idea of the Perfection of God's Character.
Chapter XI.—If, After Mans Sin, God Exercised His Attribute of Justice and Judgment, This Was Compatible with His Goodness, and Enhances the True Idea of the Perfection of Gods Character.
Up to the fall of man, therefore, from the beginning God was simply good; after that He became a judge both severe and, as the Marcionites will have it, cruel. Woman is at once condemned to bring forth in sorrow, and to serve her husband, 2844 although before she had heard without pain the increase of her race proclaimed with the blessing, Increase and multiply, and although she had been destined to be a help and not a slave to her male partner. Immediately the earth is also cursed, 2845 which before was blessed. Immediately spring up briers and thorns, where once had grown grass, and herbs, and fruitful trees. Immediately arise sweat and labour for bread, where previously on every tree was yielded spontaneous food and untilled 2846 nourishment. Thenceforth it is “man to the ground,” and not as before, “from the ground”; to death thenceforth, but before, to life; thenceforth with coats of skins, but before, nakedness without a blush. Thus Gods prior goodness was from 2847 nature, His subsequent severity from 2848 a cause. The one was innate, the other accidental; the one His own, the other adapted; 2849 the one issuing from Him, the other admitted by Him. But then nature could not have rightly permitted His goodness to have gone on inoperative, nor the cause have allowed His severity to have escaped in disguise or concealment. God provided the one for Himself, the other for the occasion. 2850 You should now set about showing also that the position of a judge is allied with evil, who have been dreaming of another god as a purely good one—solely because you cannot understand the Deity to be a judge; although we have proved God to be also a judge. Or if not a judge, at any rate a perverse and useless originator of a discipline which is not to be vindicated—in other words, not to be judged. You do not, however, disprove Gods being a judge, who have no proof to show that He is a judge. You will undoubtedly have to accuse justice herself, which provides the judge, or else to reckon her among the species p. 307 of evil, that is, to add injustice to the titles of goodness. But then justice is an evil, if injustice is a good. And yet you are forced to declare injustice to be one of the worst of things, and by the same rule are constrained to class justice amongst the most excellent. Since there is nothing hostile 2851 to evil which is not good, and no enemy of good which is not evil. It follows, then, that as injustice is an evil, so in the same degree is justice a good. Nor should it be regarded as simply a species of goodness, but as the practical observance 2852 of it, because goodness (unless justice be so controlled as to be just) will not be goodness, if it be unjust. For nothing is good which is unjust; while everything, on the other hand, which is just is good.
Gen. iii. 16.306:2845
Gen. iii. 18.306:2846
Next: The Attributes of Goodness and Justice Should Not Be Separated. They are Compatible in the True God. The Function of Justice in the Divine Being Described.
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