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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Hermogenes Gives Divine Attributes to Matter, and So Makes Two Gods.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter IV.—Hermogenes Gives Divine Attributes to Matter, and So Makes Two Gods.

At this point, then, I shall begin to treat of Matter, how that, (according to Hermogenes,) 6170 God compares it with Himself as equally unborn, equally unmade, equally eternal, set forth as being without a beginning, without an end. For what other estimate 6171 of God is there than eternity? What other condition has eternity than to have ever existed, and to exist yet for evermore by virtue of its privilege of having neither beginning nor end? Now, since this is the property of God, it will belong to God alone, whose property it is—of course 6172 on this ground, that if it can be ascribed to any other being, it will no longer be the property of God, but will belong, along with Him, to that being also to which it is ascribed. For “although there be that are called gods” in name, “whether in heaven or in earth, yet to us there is but one God the Father, of whom are all things;” 6173 whence the greater reason why, in our view, 6174 that which is the property 6175 of God ought to be regarded as pertaining to God alone, and why (as I have already said) that should cease to be such a property, when it is shared by another being. Now, since He is God, it must necessarily be a unique mark of this quality, 6176 that it be confined to One. Else, what will be unique and singular, if that is not which has nothing equal to it? What will be principal, if that is not which is above all things, before all things, and from which all things proceed? By possessing these He is God alone, and by His sole possession of them He is One.  If another also shared in the possession, there would then be as many gods as there were possessors of these attributes of God. Hermogenes, therefore, introduces two gods: he introduces Matter as God’s equal. God, however, must be One, because that is God which is supreme; but nothing else can be supreme than that which is unique; and that cannot possibly be unique which has anything equal to it; and Matter will be equal with God when it is held to be 6177 eternal.



Quod, with the subjunctive comparet.






1 Cor. viii. 5.


Apud nos.


The property of being eternal.


Unicum sit necesse est.



Next: Hermogenes Coquets with His Own Argument, as If Rather Afraid of It. After Investing Matter with Divine Qualities, He Tries to Make It Somehow Inferior to God.

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