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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Sundry Quotations from Hermogenes. Now Uncertain and Vague are His Speculations Respecting Motion in Matter, and the Material Qualities of Good and Evil.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XLI.—Sundry Quotations from Hermogenes. Now Uncertain and Vague are His Speculations Respecting Motion in Matter, and the Material Qualities of Good and Evil.

I come back to the point of motion6564 that I may show how slippery you are at every step. Motion in Matter was disordered, and confused, and turbulent. This is why you apply to it the comparison of a boiler of hot water surging over. Now how is it, that in another passage another sort of motion is affirmed by you?  For when you want to represent Matter as neither good nor evil, you say: “Matter, which is the substratum (of creation) 6565 possessing as it does motion in an equable impulse, 6566 tends in no very great degree either to good or to evil.” Now if it had this equable impulse, it could not be turbulent, nor be like the boiling water of the caldron; it would rather be even and regular, oscillating indeed of its own accord between good and evil, but yet not prone or tending to either side. It would swing, as the phrase is, in a just and exact balance. Now this is not unrest; this is not turbulence or inconstancy; 6567 but rather the regularity, and evenness, and exactitude of a motion, inclining to neither side. If it oscillated this way and that way, and inclined rather to one particular side, it would plainly in that case merit the reproach of unevenness, and inequality, and turbulence. Moreover, although the motion of Matter was not prone either to good or to evil, it would still, of course, oscillate between good and evil; so that from this circumstance too it is obvious that Matter is contained within certain limits, 6568 because its motion, while prone to neither good nor evil, since it had no natural bent either way, oscillated from either between both, and therefore was contained within the limits of the two.  But you, in fact, place both good and evil in a local habitation, 6569 when you assert that motion in Matter inclined to neither of them. For Matter which was local, 6570 when inclining neither hither nor thither, inclined not to the places in which good and evil were. But when you assign locality to good and evil, you make them corporeal by making them local, since those things which have local space must needs first have bodily substance. In fact, 6571 incorporeal things could not have any locality of their own except in a body, when they have access to a body. 6572 But when Matter inclined not to good and evil, it was as corporeal or local essences that it did not incline to them. You err, therefore, when you will have it that good and evil are substances. For you make substances of the things to which you assign locality; 6573 but you assign locality when you keep motion in Matter poised equally distant from both sides. 6574


Footnotes

500:6564

From which he has digressed since ch. xxxvi., p. 497.

500:6565

Subjacens materia.

500:6566

Æqualis momenti motum.

500:6567

Passivitas.

500:6568

Determinabilem.

500:6569

In loco facis: “you localise.”

500:6570

In loco.

500:6571

Denique.

500:6572

Cum corpori accedunt: or, “when they are added to a body.”

500:6573

Loca: “places;” one to each.

500:6574

Cum ab utraque regione suspendis: equally far from good and evil.


Next: Further Exposure of Inconsistencies in the Opinions of Hermogenes Respecting the Divine Qualities of Matter.

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