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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: 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.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XII.—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.

Since, therefore, there is this union and agreement between goodness and justice, you cannot prescribe 2853 their separation. With what face will you determine the separation of your two Gods, regarding in their separate condition one as distinctively the good God, and the other as distinctively the just God? Where the just is, there also exists the good. In short, from the very first the Creator was both good and also just.  And both His attributes advanced together. His goodness created, His justice arranged, the world; and in this process it even then decreed that the world should be formed of good materials, because it took counsel with goodness. The work of justice is apparent, in the separation which was pronounced between light and darkness, between day and night, between heaven and earth, between the water above and the water beneath, between the gathering together of the sea and the mass of the dry land, between the greater lights and the lesser, between the luminaries of the day and those of the night, between male and female, between the tree of knowledge of death and of life, between the world and paradise, between the aqueous and the earth-born animals. As goodness conceived all things, so did justice discriminate them. With the determination of the latter, everything was arranged and set in order. Every site and quality 2854 of the elements, their effect, motion, and state, the rise and setting of each, are the judicial determinations of the Creator.  Do not suppose that His function as a judge must be defined as beginning when evil began, and so tarnish His justice with the cause of evil. By such considerations, then, do we show that this attribute advanced in company with goodness, the author 2855 of all things,—worthy of being herself, too, deemed innate and natural, and not as accidentally accruing 2856 to God, inasmuch as she was found to be in Him, her Lord, the arbiter of His works.


Footnotes

307:2853

Cavere. This is Oehler’s reading, and best suits the sense of the passage and the style of our author.

307:2854

Habitus.

307:2855

Auctrice.

307:2856

Obventiciam.


Next: Further Description of the Divine Justice; Since the Fall of Man It Has Regulated the Divine Goodness.  God's Claims on Our Love and Our Fear Reconciled.

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