Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: Another Cavil Answered, I.e., the Fall Imputable to God, Because Man's Soul is a Portion of the Spiritual Essence of the Creator. The Divine Afflatus Not in Fault in the Sin of Man, But the Human Will Which Was Additional to It.
Chapter IX.—Another Cavil Answered, I.e., the Fall Imputable to God, Because Mans Soul is a Portion of the Spiritual Essence of the Creator. The Divine Afflatus Not in Fault in the Sin of Man, But the Human Will Which Was Additional to It.
But, you say, in what way soever the substance of the Creator is found to be susceptible of fault, when the afflatus of God, that is to say, the soul, 2813 offends in man, it cannot but be that that fault of the portion is refferible to the original whole. Now, to meet this objection, we must explain the nature 2814 of the soul. We must at the outset hold fast the meaning of the Greek scripture, which has afflatus, not spirit. 2815 Some interpreters of the Greek, without reflecting on the difference of the words, and careless about their exact meaning, put spirit for afflatus; they thus afford to heretics an opportunity of tarnishing 2816 the Spirit of God, that is to say, God Himself, with default. And now comes the question. Afflatus, observe then, is less than spirit, although it comes from spirit; it is the spirits gentle breeze, 2817 but it is not the spirit. Now a breeze is rarer than the wind; and although it proceeds from wind, yet a breeze is not the wind. One may call a breeze the image of the spirit. In the same manner, man is the image of God, that is, of spirit; for God is spirit. Afflatus is therefore the image of the spirit. Now the image is not in any case equal to the very thing. 2818 It is one thing to be like the reality, and another thing to be the reality itself. So, although the afflatus is the image of the spirit, it is yet not possible to compare the image of God in such a way, that, because the reality—that is, the spirit, or in other words, the Divine Being—is faultless, therefore the afflatus also, that is to say, the image, ought not by any possibility to have done wrong. In this respect will the image be less than the reality, and the afflatus inferior to the spirit, in that, while it possesses beyond doubt the true lineaments of divinity, such as an immortal soul, freedom and its own mastery over itself, foreknowledge in a great degree, 2819 reasonableness, capacity of understanding and knowledge, it is even in these respects an image still, and never amounts to the actual power of Deity, nor to absolute exemption from fault,—a property which is only conceded to God, that is, to the reality, and which is simply incompatible with an image. An image, although it may express all the lineaments of the reality, is yet wanting in its intrinsic power; it is destitute of motion. In like manner, the soul, the image of the spirit, is unable to express the simple power thereof, that is to say, its happy exemption from sinning. 2820 Were it otherwise, 2821 it would not be soul, but spirit; not man, who received a soul, but God. Besides, to take another view of the matter, 2822 not everything which pertains to God will be regarded as God, so that you would not maintain that His afflatus was God, that is, exempt from fault, because it is the breath of God. And in an act of your own, such as blowing into a flute, you would not thereby make the flute human, although it was your own human breath which you breathed into it, precisely as God breathed of His own Spirit. In fact, 2823 the Scripture, by expressly saying 2824 that God breathed into mans nostrils the breath of life, and that man became thereby a living soul, not a life-giving spirit, has distinguished that soul from the condition of the Creator. The work must p. 305 necessarily be distinct from the workman, and it is inferior to him. The pitcher will not be the potter, although made by the potter; nor in like manner, will the afflatus, because made by the spirit, be on that account the spirit. The soul has often been called by the same name as the breath. You should also take care that no descent be made from the breath to a still lower quality. So you have granted (you say) the infirmity of the soul, which you denied before! Undoubtedly, when you demand for it an equality with God, that is, a freedom from fault, I contend that it is infirm. But when the comparison is challenged with an angel, I am compelled to maintain that the head over all things is the stronger of the two, to whom the angels are ministers, 2825 who is destined to be the judge of angels, 2826 if he shall stand fast in the law of God—an obedience which he refused at first. Now this disobedience 2827 it was possible for the afflatus of God to commit: it was possible, but it was not proper. The possibility lay in its slenderness of nature, as being the breath and not the spirit; the impropriety, however, arose from its power of will, as being free, and not a slave. It was furthermore assisted by the warning against committing sin under the threat of incurring death, which was meant to be a support for its slender nature, and a direction for its liberty of choice. So that the soul can no longer appear to have sinned, because it has an affinity with God, that is to say, through the afflatus, but rather through that which was an addition to its nature, that is, through its free-will, which was indeed given to it by God in accordance with His purpose and reason, but recklessly employed 2828 by man according as he chose. This, then, being the case, the entire course 2829 of Gods action is purged from all imputation to evil. For the liberty of the will will not retort its own wrong on Him by whom it was bestowed, but on him by whom it was improperly used. What is the evil, then, which you want to impute to the Creator? If it is mans sin, it will not be Gods fault, because it is mans doing; nor is that Being to be regarded as the author of the sin, who turns out to be its forbidder, nay, its condemner. If death is the evil, death will not give the reproach of being its own author to Him who threatened it, but to him who despised it. For by his contempt he introduced it, which assuredly 2830 would not have appeared had man not despised it.
Anima, for animus. This meaning seems required throughout this passage, where afterwards occurs the phrase immortalis anima.304:2814
Πνοήν, not πνεῦμα; so the Vulgate has spiraculum, not spiritum. [Kaye (p. 247) again refers to Profr. Andrews Norton of Harvard for valuable remarks concerning the use of the word spiritus by the ancients. Evidences, Vol. III. p. 160, note 7.]304:2816
Non deliquendi felicitatem.304:2821
Et alias autem.304:2823
Gen. ii. 7.305:2825
Heb. i. 14.305:2826
1 Cor. vi. 3.305:2827
Hoc ipsum, referring to the noluit of the preceding clause.305:2828
Next: Another Cavil Met, I.e., the Devil Who Instigated Man to Sin Himself the Creature of God. Nay, the Primeval Cherub Only Was God's Work. The Devilish Nature Superadded by Wilfulness. In Man's Recovery the Devil is Vanquished in a Conflict on His Own Ground.
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