Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: 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.
Chapter X.—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.
Now the reason of this saying is comprised in three points: in the matter, in the time, in the limit. 1969 In the matter, so that you must consider what it is you have to seek; in the time, when you have to seek; in the limit, how long. What you have “to seek,” then, is that which Christ has taught, 1970 (and you must go on seeking) of course for such time as you fail to find, 1971 —until indeed you find 1972 it. But you have succeeded in finding 1973 when you have believed. For you would not have believed if you had not found; as neither would you have sought except with a view to find. Your object, therefore, in seeking was to find; and your object in finding was to believe. All further delay for seeking and finding you have prevented 1974 by believing. The very fruit of your seeking has determined for you this limit. This boundary 1975 has He set for you Himself, who is unwilling that you should believe anything else than what He has taught, or, therefore, even seek for it. If, however, because so many other things have been taught by one and another, we are on that account bound to go on seeking, so long as we are able to find anything, we must (at that rate) be ever seeking, and never believe anything at all. For where shall be the end of seeking? where the stop 1976 in believing? where the completion in finding? (Shall it be) with Marcion? But even Valentinus proposes (to us the) maxim, “Seek, and ye shall find.” (Then shall it be) with Valentinus? Well, but Apelles, too, will assail me with the same quotation; Hebion also, and Simon, and all in turn, have no other argument wherewithal to entice me, and draw me over to their side. Thus I shall be nowhere, and still be encountering 1977 (that challenge), “Seek, and ye shall find,” precisely as if I had no resting-place; 1978 as if (indeed) I had never found that which Christ has taught—that which ought 1979 to be sought, that which must needs 1980 be believed.
This is, “the matter.”248:1971
This is the rendering of Oehlers text, “et velut si nusquam. There are other readings of this obscure passage, of which as we add the two most intelligible. The Codex Agobardinus has, “et velim si nunquam;” that is, “and I would that I were nowhere,” with no fixed belief—in such wise as never to have had the truth; not, as must now be, to have forfeited it. (Dodgson). This seems far-fetched, and inferior to the reading of Pamelius and his mss.: “et velint me sic esse nusquam;”—or (as Semler puts it) “velint sic nusquam;” i.e., “and they (the heretics) would wish me to be nowhere”—without the fixed faith of the Catholic. This makes good sense. [Semler is here mentioned, and if anybody wishes to understand what sort of editor he was, he may be greatly amused by Kayes examination of some of his positions, pp. 64–84. Elucidation II.]248:1979
Necesse est. Observe these degrees of obligation.
Next: After We Have Believed, Search Should Cease; Otherwise It Must End in a Denial of What We Have Believed. No Other Object Proposed for Our Faith.
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