Chapter III.—God Known by His Works. His Goodness Shown in His Creative Energy; But Everlasting in Its Nature; Inherent in God, Previous to All Exhibition of It. The First Stage of This Goodness Prior to Man.
It will therefore be right for us, as we enter on the examination of the known God, when p. 299 the question arises, in what condition He is known to us, to begin with His works, which are prior to man; so that His goodness, being discovered immediately along with Himself, and then constituted and prescriptively settled, may suggest to us some sense whereby we may understand how the subsequent order of things came about. The disciples of Marcion, moreover, may possibly be able, while recognising the goodness of our God, to learn how worthy it is likewise of the Divine Being, on those very grounds whereby we have proved it to be unworthy in the case of their god. Now this very point, 2725 which is a material one in their scheme, 2726 Marcion did not find in any other god, but eliminated it for himself out of his own god. The first goodness, then, 2727 was that of the Creator, whereby God was unwilling to remain hidden for ever; in other words, (unwilling) that there should not be a something by which God should become known. For what, indeed, is so good as the knowledge and fruition 2728 of God? Now, although it did not transpires that this was good, because as yet there existed nothing to which it could transpire, 2729 yet God foreknew what good would eventually transpire, and therefore He set Himself about developing 2730 His own perfect goodness, for the accomplishment of the good which was to transpire; not, indeed, a sudden goodness issuing in some accidental boon 2731 or in some excited impulse, 2732 such as must be dated simply from the moment when it began to operate. For if it did itself produce its own beginning when it began to operate, it had not, in fact, a beginning itself when it acted. When, however, an initial act had been once done by it, the scheme of temporal seasons began, for distinguishing and noting which, the stars and luminaries of heaven were arranged in their order. “Let them be,” says God, “for seasons, and for days, and years.” 2733 Previous, then, to this temporal course, (the goodness) which created time had not time; nor before that beginning which the same goodness originated, had it a beginning. Being therefore without all order of a beginning, and all mode of time, it will be reckoned to possess an age, measureless in extent 2734 and endless in duration; 2735 nor will it be possible to regard it as a sudden or adventitious or impulsive emotion, because it has nothing to occasion such an estimate of itself; in other words, no sort of temporal sequence. It must therefore be accounted an eternal attribute, inbred in God, 2736 and everlasting, 2737 and on this account worthy of the Divine Being, putting to shame for ever 2738 the benevolence of Marcions god, subsequent as he is to (I will not say) all beginnings and times, but to the very malignity of the Creator, if indeed malignity could possibly have been found in goodness.