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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: A Series of Dilemmas.  They Show that Hermogenes Cannot Escape from the Orthodox Conclusion.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XVI.—A Series of Dilemmas.  They Show that Hermogenes Cannot Escape from the Orthodox Conclusion.

On the very threshold, 6278 then, of this doctrine, 6279 which I shall probably have to treat of elsewhere, I distinctly lay it down as my position, that both good and evil must be ascribed either to God, who made them out of Matter; or to Matter itself, out of which He made them; or both one and the other to both of them together, 6280 because they are bound together—both He who created, and that out of which He created; or (lastly) one to One and the other to the Other, 6281 because after Matter and God there is not a third. Now if both should prove to belong to God, God evidently will be the author of evil; but God, as being good, cannot be the author of evil. Again, if both are ascribed to Matter, Matter will evidently be the very mother of good, 6282 but inasmuch as Matter is wholly evil, it cannot be the mother of good. But if both one and the other should be thought to belong to Both together, then in this case also Matter will be comparable with God; and both will be equal, being on equal terms allied to evil as well as to good. Matter, however, ought not to be compared with God, in order that it may not make two gods. If, (lastly,) one be ascribed to One, and the other to the Other—that is to say, let the good be God’s, and the evil belong to Matter—then, on the one hand, evil must not be ascribed to God, nor, on the other hand, good to Matter.  And God, moreover, by making both good things and evil things out of Matter, creates them along with it. This being the case, I cannot tell how Hermogenes 6283 is to escape from my conclusion; for he supposes that God cannot be the author of evil, in what way soever He created evil out of Matter, whether it was of His own will, or of necessity, or from the reason (of the case). If, however, He is the author of evil, who was the actual Creator, Matter being simply associated with Him by reason of its furnishing Him with substance, 6284 you now do away with the cause 6285 of your introducing Matter. For it is not the less true, that it is by means of Matter that God shows Himself the author of evil, although Matter has been assumed by you expressly to prevent God’s seeming to be the author of evil. Matter being therefore excluded, since the cause of it is excluded, it remains that God without doubt, must have made all things out of nothing. Whether evil things were amongst them we shall see, when it shall be made clear what are evil things, and whether those things are evil which you at present deem to be so. For it is more worthy of God that He produced even these of His own will, by producing them out of nothing, than from the predetermination of another, 6286 (which must have been the case) if He had produced them out of Matter. It is liberty, not necessity, which suits the character of God. I would much rather that He should have even willed to create evil of Himself, than that He should have lacked ability to hinder its creation.


Footnotes

486:6278

Præstructione. The notion is of the foundation of an edifice:  here ="preliminary remarks” (see our Anti-Marcion, v. 5, p. 438).

486:6279

Articuli.

486:6280

Utrumque utrique.

486:6281

Alterum alteri.

486:6282

Boni matrix.

486:6283

The usual reading is “Hermogenes.” Rigaltius, however, reads “Hermogenis,” of which Oehler approves; so as to make Tertullian say, “I cannot tell how I can avoid the opinion of Hermogenes, who,” etc. etc.

486:6284

Per substantiæ suggestum.

486:6285

Excusas jam causam. Hermogenes held that Matter was eternal, to exclude God from the authorship of evil.  This causa of Matter he was now illogically evading. Excusare = ex, causa, “to cancel the cause.”

486:6286

De præjudicio alieno.


Next: The Truth of God's Work in Creation. You Cannot Depart in the Least from It, Without Landing Yourself in an Absurdity.

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