Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: Hermogenes, After a Perverse Induction from Mere Heretical Assumptions, Concludes that God Created All Things Out of Pre-Existing Matter.
Chapter II.—Hermogenes, After a Perverse Induction from Mere Heretical Assumptions, Concludes that God Created All Things Out of Pre-Existing Matter.
Our very bad painter has coloured this his primary shade absolutely without any light, with such arguments as these: He begins with laying down the premiss, 6143 that the Lord made all things either out of Himself, or out of nothing, or out of something; in order that, after he has shown that it was impossible for Him to have made them either out of Himself or out of nothing, he might thence affirm the residuary proposition that He made them out of something, and therefore that that something was Matter. He could not have made all things, he says, of Himself; because whatever p. 478 things the Lord made of Himself would have been parts of Himself; but 6144 He is not dissoluble into parts, 6145 because, being the Lord, He is indivisible, and unchangeable, and always the same. Besides, if He had made anything out of Himself, it would have been something of Himself. Everything, however, both which was made and which He made must be accounted imperfect, because it was made of a part, and He made it of a part; or if, again, it was a whole which He made, who is a whole Himself, He must in that case have been at once both a whole, and yet not a whole; because it behoved Him to be a whole, that He might produce Himself, 6146 and yet not a whole, that He might be produced out of Himself. 6147 But this is a most difficult position. For if He were in existence, He could not be made, for He was in existence already; if, however, he were not in existence He could not make, because He was a nonentity. He maintains, moreover, that He who always exists, does not come into existence, 6148 but exists for ever and ever. He accordingly concludes that He made nothing out of Himself, since He never passed into such a condition 6149 as made it possible for Him to make anything out of Himself. In like manner, he contends that He could not have made all things out of nothing—thus: He defines the Lord as a being who is good, nay, very good, who must will to make things as good and excellent as He is Himself; indeed it were impossible for Him either to will or to make anything which was not good, nay, very good itself. Therefore all things ought to have been made good and excellent by Him, after His own condition. Experience shows, 6150 however, that things which are even evil were made by Him: not, of course, of His own will and pleasure; because, if it had been of His own will and pleasure, He would be sure to have made nothing unfitting or unworthy of Himself. That, therefore, which He made not of His own will must be understood to have been made from the fault of something, and that is from Matter, without a doubt.
In partes non devenire.478:6146
Ut faceret semetipsum.478:6147
Ut fieret de semetipso.478:6148
Non ejus fieret conditionis.478:6150
Next: An Argument of Hermogenes. The Answer: While God is a Title Eternally Applicable to the Divine Being, Lord and Father are Only Relative Appellations, Not Eternally Applicable. An Inconsistency in the Argument of Hermogenes Pointed Out.
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