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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: The Heresy Traceable to Valentinus, an Able But Restless Man. Many Schismatical Leaders of the School Mentioned. Only One of Them Shows Respect to the Man Whose Name Designates the Entire School.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter IV.—The Heresy Traceable to Valentinus, an Able But Restless Man. Many Schismatical Leaders of the School Mentioned. Only One of Them Shows Respect to the Man Whose Name Designates the Entire School.

We know, I say, most fully their actual origin, and we are quite aware why we call them Valentinians, although they affect to disavow their name.  They have departed, it is true, 6657 from their founder, yet is their origin by no means destroyed; and even if it chance to be changed, the very change bears testimony to the fact. Valentinus had expected to become a bishop, because he was an able man both in genius and eloquence. Being indignant, however, that another obtained the dignity by reason of a claim which confessorship 6658 had given him, he broke with the church of the true faith. Just like those (restless) spirits which, when roused by ambition, are usually inflamed with the desire of revenge, he applied himself with all his might 6659 to exterminate the truth; and finding the clue 6660 of a certain old opinion, he marked out a path for himself with the subtlety of a serpent. Ptolemæus afterwards entered on the same path, by distinguishing the names and the numbers of the Ænons into personal substances, which, however, he kept apart from God. Valentinus had included these in the very essence of the Deity, as senses and affections of motion. Sundry bypaths were then struck off therefrom, by Heraclean and Secundus and the magician Marcus. Theotimus worked hard about “the images of the law.” Valentinus, however, was as yet nowhere, and still the Valentinians derive their name from Valentinus. Axionicus at Antioch is the only man who at the present time does honour 6661 to the memory of Valentinus, by keeping his rules 6662 to the full. But this heresy is permitted to fashion itself into as many various shapes as a courtezan, who usually changes and adjusts her dress every day. And why not?  When they review that spiritual seed of theirs in every man after this fashion, whenever they have hit upon any novelty, they forthwith call their presumption a revelation, their own perverse ingenuity a spiritual gift; but (they deny all) unity, admitting only diversity. 6663 And thus we clearly see that, setting aside their customary dissimulation, most of them are in a divided state, being ready to say (and that sincerely) of certain points of their belief, “This is not so;” and, “I take this in a different sense;” and, “I do not admit that.” By this variety, indeed, innovation is stamped on the very face of their rules; besides which, it wears all the colourable features of ignorant conceits. 6664


Footnotes

505:6657

Enim.

505:6658

Martyrii.

505:6659

Conversus.

505:6660

Semitam.

505:6661

Consolatur.

505:6662

Regularum: the particulars of his system. [Here comes in the word, borrowed from heresy, which shaped Monasticism in after times and created the regular orders.]

505:6663

Nec unitatem, sed diversitatem: scil. appellant.

505:6664

Colores ignorantiarum.


Next: Many Eminent Christian Writers Have Carefully and Fully Refuted the Heresy. These the Author Makes His Own Guides.

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