Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: God's Dealings with Adam at the Fall, and with Cain After His Crime, Admirably Explained and Defended.
Chapter XXV.—Gods Dealings with Adam at the Fall, and with Cain After His Crime, Admirably Explained and Defended.
It is now high time that I should, in order to meet all 3016 objections of this kind, proceed to the explanation and clearing up 3017 of the other trifles, 3018 weak points, and inconsistencies, as you deemed them. God calls out to Adam, 3019 Where art thou? as if ignorant where he was; and when he alleged that the shame of his nakedness was the cause (of his hiding himself), He inquired whether he had eaten of the tree, as if He were in doubt. By no means; 3020 God was neither uncertain about the commission of the sin, nor ignorant of Adams whereabouts. It was certainly proper to summon the offender, who was concealing himself from the consciousness of his sin, and to bring him forth into the presence of his Lord, not merely by the calling out of his name, but p. 317 with a home-thrust blow 3021 at the sin which he had at that moment committed. For the question ought not to be read in a merely interrogative tone, Where art thou, Adam? but with an impressive and earnest voice, and with an air of imputation, Oh, Adam, where art thou?—as much as to intimate: thou art no longer here, thou art in perdition—so that the voice is the utterance of One who is at once rebuking and sorrowing. 3022 But of course some part of paradise had escaped the eye of Him who holds the universe in His hand as if it were a birds nest, and to whom heaven is a throne and earth a footstool; so that He could not see, before He summoned him forth, where Adam was, both while lurking and when eating of the forbidden fruit! The wolf or the paltry thief escapes not the notice of the keeper of your vineyard or your garden! And God, I suppose, with His keener vision, 3023 from on high was unable to miss the sight of 3024 aught which lay beneath Him! Foolish heretic, who treat with scorn 3025 so fine an argument of Gods greatness and mans instruction! God put the question with an appearance of uncertainty, in order that even here He might prove man to be the subject of a free will in the alternative of either a denial or a confession, and give to him the opportunity of freely acknowledging his transgression, and, so far, 3026 of lightening it. 3027 In like manner He inquires of Cain where his brother was, just as if He had not yet heard the blood of Abel crying from the ground, in order that he too might have the opportunity from the same power of the will of spontaneously denying, and to this degree aggravating, his crime; and that thus there might be supplied to us examples of confessing sins rather than of denying them: so that even then was initiated the evangelic doctrine, “By thy words 3028 thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” 3029 Now, although Adam was by reason of his condition under law 3030 subject to death, yet was hope preserved to him by the Lords saying, “Behold, Adam is become as one of us;” 3031 that is, in consequence of the future taking of the man into the divine nature. Then what follows? “And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, (and eat), and live for ever.” Inserting thus the particle of present time, “And now,” He shows that He had made for a time, and at present, a prolongation of mans life. Therefore He did not actually 3032 curse Adam and Eve, for they were candidates for restoration, and they had been relieved 3033 by confession. Cain, however, He not only cursed; but when he wished to atone for his sin by death, He even prohibited his dying, so that he had to bear the load of this prohibition in addition to his crime. This, then, will prove to be the ignorance of our God, which was simulated on this account, that delinquent man should not be unaware of what he ought to do. Coming down to the case of Sodom and Gomorrha, he says: “I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.” 3034 Well, was He in this instance also uncertain through ignorance, and desiring to know? Or was this a necessary tone of utterance, as expressive of a minatory and not a dubious sense, under the colour of an inquiry? If you make merry at Gods “going down,” as if He could not except by the descent have accomplished His judgment, take care that you do not strike your own God with as hard a blow. For He also came down to accomplish what He wished.
Ut omnia expediam.316:3017
Gen. 3:9, 11.316:3020
Ex ore tuo, “out of thine own mouth.”317:3029
Matt. xii. 37.317:3030
Propter statum legis.317:3031
Gen. 3:22, 2 Pet. 1:4.]317:3032
Ipsum. [Comp. Heb. 9:8, Rev. 22:14.]317:3033
Gen. xviii. 21. [Marcions god also “comes down.” p. 284, supra.]
Next: The Oath of God: Its Meaning. Moses, When Deprecating God's Wrath Against Israel, a Type of Christ.
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