Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: Trace God's Government in History and in His Precepts, and You Will Find It Full of His Goodness.
Chapter XVII.—Trace Gods Government in History and in His Precepts, and You Will Find It Full of His Goodness.
These considerations show that the entire order of God as Judge is an operative one, and (that I may express myself in worthier words) protective of His Catholic 2898 and supreme goodness, which, removed as it is from judiciary emotions, and pure in its own condition, the Marcionites refuse to acknowledge to be in one and the same Deity, “raining on the just and on the unjust, and making His sun to rise on the evil and on the good,” 2899 —a bounty which no other god at all exercises. It is true that Marcion has been bold enough to erase from the gospel this testimony of Christ to the Creator; but yet the world itself is inscribed with the goodness of its Maker, and the inscription is read by each mans conscience. Nay, this very long-suffering of the Creator will tend to the condemnation of Marcion; that patience, (I mean,) which waits for the sinners repentance rather than his death, which prefers mercy to sacrifice, 2900 averting from the Ninevites the ruin which had been already denounced against them, 2901 and vouchsafing to Hezekiahs tears an extension of his life, 2902 and restoring his kingly state to the monarch of Babylon after his complete repentance; 2903 that mercy, too, which conceded to the devotion of the people the son of Saul when about to die, 2904 and gave free forgiveness to David on his confessing his sins against p. 311 the house of Uriah; 2905 which also restored the house of Israel as often as it condemned it, and addressed to it consolation no less frequently than reproof. Do not therefore look at God simply as Judge, but turn your attention also to examples of His conduct as the Most Good. 2906 Noting Him, as you do, when He takes vengeance, consider Him likewise when He shows mercy. 2907 In the scale, against His severity place His gentleness. When you shall have discovered both qualities to co-exist in the Creator, you will find in Him that very circumstance which induces you to think there is another God. Lastly, come and examine into His doctrine, discipline, precepts, and counsels. You will perhaps say that there are equally good prescriptions in human laws. But Moses and God existed before all your Lycurguses and Solons. There is not one after-age 2908 which does not take from primitive sources. At any rate, my Creator did not learn from your God to issue such commandments as: Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness; thou shalt not covet what is thy neighbours; honour thy father and thy mother; and, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. To these prime counsels of innocence, chastity, and justice, and piety, are also added prescriptions of humanity, as when every seventh year slaves are released for liberty; 2909 when at the same period the land is spared from tillage; a place is also granted to the needy; and from the treading oxs mouth the muzzle is removed, for the enjoyment of the fruit of his labour before him, in order that kindness first shown in the case of animals might be raised from such rudiments 2910 to the refreshment 2911 of men.
Catholic, because diffused throughout creation (Pamelius).310:2899
Matt. v. 45. T. predicts this (by the word pluentem) strictly of the “goodness” of God, the quam.310:2900
Hos. vi. 6.310:2901
Jonah iii. 10.310:2902
2 Kings 20:0, 2 Kings 1:0.310:2903
Dan. iv. 33.310:2904
1 Sam. xiv. 45.311:2905
2 Sam. xii. 13.311:2906
Lev. xxv. 4, etc.311:2910
Refrigeria. [1 Cor. ix. 10.]
Next: Some of God's Laws Defended as Good, Which the Marcionites Impeached, Such as the Lex Talionis. Useful Purposes in a Social and Moral Point of View of This, and Sundry Other Enactments.
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