Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part I: Chapter II.
Then, again, every one is ready with the argument 350 that all things, as we teach, were created by God, and given to man for his use, and that they must be good, as coming all from so good a source; but that among them are found the various constituent elements of the public shows, such as the horse, the lion, bodily strength, and musical voice. It cannot, then, be thought that what exists by Gods own creative will is either foreign or hostile to Him; and if it is not opposed to Him, it cannot be regarded as injurious to His worshippers, as certainly it is not foreign to them. Beyond all doubt, too, the very buildings connected with the places of public amusement, composed as they are of rocks, stones, marbles, pillars, are things of God, who has given these various things for the earths embellishment; nay, the very scenes are enacted under Gods own heaven. How skilful a pleader seems human wisdom to herp. 80 self, especially if she has the fear of losing any of her delights—any of the sweet enjoyments of worldly existence! In fact, you will find not a few whom the imperilling of their pleasures rather than their life holds back from us. For even the weakling has no strong dread of death as a debt he knows is due by him; while the wise man does not look with contempt on pleasure, regarding it as a precious gift—in fact, the one blessedness of life, whether to philosopher or fool. Now nobody denies what nobody is ignorant of—for Nature herself is teacher of it—that God is the Maker of the universe, and that it is good, and that it is mans by free gift of its Maker. But having no intimate acquaintance with the Highest, knowing Him only by natural revelation, and not as His “friends”—afar off, and not as those who have been brought nigh to Him—men cannot but be in ignorance alike of what He enjoins and what He forbids in regard to the administration of His world. They must be ignorant, too, of the hostile power which works against Him, and perverts to wrong uses the things His hand has formed; for you cannot know either the will or the adversary of a God you do not know. We must not, then, consider merely by whom all things were made, but by whom they have been perverted. We shall find out for what use they were made at first, when we find for what they were not. There is a vast difference between the corrupted state and that of primal purity, just because there is a vast difference between the Creator and the corrupter. Why, all sorts of evils, which as indubitably evils even the heathens prohibit, and against which they guard themselves, come from the works of God. Take, for instance, murder, whether committed by iron, by poison, or by magical enchantments. Iron and herbs and demons are all equally creatures of God. Has the Creator, withal, provided these things for mans destruction? Nay, He puts His interdict on every sort of man-killing by that one summary precept, “Thou shalt not kill.” Moreover, who but God, the Maker of the world, put in its gold, brass, silver, ivory, wood, and all the other materials used in the manufacture of idols? Yet has He done this that men may set up a worship in opposition to Himself? On the contrary idolatry in His eyes is the crowning sin. What is there offensive to God which is not Gods? But in offending Him, it ceases to be His; and in ceasing to be His, it is in His eyes an offending thing. Man himself, guilty as he is of every iniquity, is not only a work of God—he is His image, and yet both in soul and body he has severed himself from his Maker. For we did not get eyes to minister to lust, and the tongue for speaking evil with, and ears to be the receptacle of evil speech, and the throat to serve the vice of gluttony, and the belly to be gluttonys ally, and the genitals for unchaste excesses, and hands for deeds of violence, and the feet for an erring life; or was the soul placed in the body that it might become a thought-manufactory of snares, and fraud, and injustice? I think not; for if God, as the righteous ex-actor of innocence, hates everything like malignity—if He hates utterly such plotting of evil, it is clear beyond a doubt, that, of all things that have come from His hand, He has made none to lead to works which He condemns, even though these same works may be carried on by things of His making; for, in fact, it is the one ground of condemnation, that the creature misuses the creation. We, therefore, who in our knowledge of the Lord have obtained some knowledge also of His foe—who, in our discovery of the Creator, have at the same time laid hands upon the great corrupter, ought neither to wonder nor to doubt that, as the prowess of the corrupting and God-opposing angel overthrew in the beginning the virtue of man, the work and image of God, the possessor of the world, so he has entirely changed mans nature—created, like his own, for perfect sinlessness—into his own state of wicked enmity against his Maker, that in the very thing whose gift to man, but not to him, had grieved him, he might make man guilty in Gods eyes, and set up his own supremacy. 351
[Kaye (p. 366), declares that all the arguments urged in this tract are comprised in two sentences of the Apology, cap. 38.]80:351
[For the demonology of this treatise, compare capp. 10, 12, 13, 23, and see Kayes full but condensed statement (pp. 201–204), in his account of the writings, etc.]
Next: Chapter III.
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