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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: The Research After Definite Truth Enjoined on Us. When We Have Discovered This, We Should Be Content.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter IX.—The Research After Definite Truth Enjoined on Us. When We Have Discovered This, We Should Be Content.

I now purposely 1956 relinquish this ground of argument. Let it be granted, that the words, “Seek, and ye shall find,” were addressed to all men (equally). Yet even here one’s aim is 1957 carefully to determine 1958 the sense of the words 1959 consistently with 1960 (that reason), 1961 which is the guiding principle 1962 in all interpretation. (Now) no divine saying is so unconnected 1963 p. 248 and diffuse, that its words only are to be insisted on, and their connection left undetermined. But at the outset I lay down (this position) that there is some one, and therefore definite, thing taught by Christ, which the Gentiles are by all means bound to believe, and for that purpose to “seek,” in order that they may be able, when they have “found” it, to believe. However, 1964 there can be no indefinite seeking for that which has been taught as one only definite thing. You must “seek” until you “find,” and believe when you have found; nor have you anything further to do but to keep what you have believed provided you believe this besides, that nothing else is to be believed, and therefore nothing else is to be sought, after you have found and believed what has been taught by Him who charges you to seek no other thing than that which He has taught. 1965 When, indeed, any man doubts about this, proof will be forthcoming, 1966 that we have in our possession 1967 that which was taught by Christ.  Meanwhile, such is my confidence in our proof, that I anticipate it, in the shape of an admonition to certain persons, not “to seek” anything beyond what they have believed—that this is what they ought to have sought, how to avoid 1968 interpreting, “Seek, and ye shall find,” without regard to the rule of reason.


Footnotes

247:1956

Sponte.

247:1957

Expetit.

247:1958

Certare.

247:1959

Sensus.

247:1960

Cum.

247:1961

See Oehler’s note.

247:1962

Gubernaculo. See Irenæus, ii. 46, for a similar view (Rigalt.). Surely Dodgson’s version, if intelligible in itself even, incorrectly represents Tertullian’s sense.

247:1963

Dissoluta.

248:1964

Porro.

248:1965

[Not to be contented with Truth, once known, is a sin preceding that against the Holy Spirit, and this state of mind explains the judicial blindness inflicted on Lapsers, as asserted by St. Paul, 2 Thess. 2:10, 13, where note—“they received not the love of the truth.” They had it and were not content with it.]

248:1966

Constabit.

248:1967

Penes nos.

248:1968

Ne.


Next: One Has Succeeded in Finding Definite Truth, When He Believes. Heretical Wits are Always Offering Many Things for Vain Discussion, But We are Not to Be Always Seeking.

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