Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: Christ Thanks the Father for Revealing to Babes What He Had Concealed from the Wise. This Concealment Judiciously Effected by the Creator. Other Points in St. Luke's Chap. X. Shown to Be Only Possible to the Creator's Christ.
Chapter XXV.—Christ Thanks the Father for Revealing to Babes What He Had Concealed from the Wise. This Concealment Judiciously Effected by the Creator. Other Points in St. Lukes Chap. X. Shown to Be Only Possible to the Creators Christ.
Who shall be invoked as the Lord of heaven, that does not first show Himself 4465 to have been the maker thereof? For He says, “I thank thee, (O Father,) and own Thee, Lord of heaven, because those things which had been hidden from the wise and prudent, Thou has revealed unto babes.” 4466 What things are these? And whose? And by whom hidden? And by whom revealed? If it was by Marcions god that they were hidden and revealed, it was an extremely iniquitous proceeding; 4467 for nothing at all had he ever produced 4468 in which anything could have been hidden—no prophecies, no parables, no visions, no evidences 4469 of things, or words, or names, obscured by allegories and figures, or cloudy enigmas, but he had concealed the greatness even of himself, which he was with all his might revealing by his Christ. Now in what respect had the wise and prudent done wrong, 4470 that God should be hidden from them, when their wisdom and prudence had been insufficient to come to the knowledge of Him? No way had been provided by himself, 4471 by any declaration of his works, or any vestiges whereby they might become 4472 wise and prudent. However, if they had even failed in any duty towards a god whom they knew not, suppose him now at last to be known still they ought not to have found a jealous god in him who is introduced as unlike the Creator. Therefore, since he had neither provided any materials in which he could have hidden anything, nor had any offenders from whom he could have hidden himself: since, again, even if he had had any, he ought not to have hidden himself from them, he will not now be himself the revealer, who was not previously the concealer; so neither will any be the Lord of heaven nor the Father of Christ but He in whom all these attributes consistently meet. 4473 For He conceals by His preparatory apparatus of prophetic obscurity, the understanding of which is open to faith (for “if ye will not believe, ye shall not understand” 4474 ); and He had offenders in those wise and prudent ones who would not seek after God, although He was to be discovered in His so many and mighty works, 4475 or who rashly philosophized about Him, and thereby furnished to heretics their arts; 4476 and lastly, He is a jealous God. Accordingly, 4477 that which Christ thanks God for doing, He long ago 4478 announced by Isaiah: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the understanding of the prudent will I hide.” 4479 So in another passage He intimates both that He has concealed, and that He will also reveal: “I will give unto them treasures that have been hidden, and secret ones will I discover to them.” 4480 And again: “Who else shall scatter the tokens of ventriloquists, 4481 and the devices of those who divine out of their own heart; turning wise men backward, and making their counsels foolish?” 4482 Now, if He has designated His Christ as an enlightener of the Gentiles, saying, “I have set thee for a light of the Gentiles;” 4483 and if we understand these to be meant in the word babes 4484 —as having been once dwarfs in knowledge and infants in prudence, and even now also babes in their lowliness of faith—we shall of course more easily understand how He who had once hidden “these things,” and promised a revelation of them through Christ, was the same God as He who had now revealed them unto babes. Else, if it was Marcions god who revealed the things which had been formerly hidden by the Creator, it follows 4485 that he did the Creators work by setting forth His deeds. 4486 But he did it, say you, for His destruction, that he might refute them. 4487 Therefore he ought to have refuted them to those from whom the Creator had hidden them, even the wise and prudent. For if he had a kind intention in what he did, the gift of knowledge was due to those from whom the Creator had detained it, instead of the babes, to whom the Creator had grudged no gift. But after all, it is, I presume, the edificap. 390 tion 4488 rather than the demolition 4489 of the law and the prophets which we have thus far found effected in Christ. “All things,” He says, “are delivered unto me of my Father.” 4490 You may believe Him, if He is the Christ of the Creator to whom all things belong; because the Creator has not delivered to a Son who is less than Himself all things, which He created by 4491 Him, that is to say, by His Word. If, on the contrary, he is the notorious stranger, 4492 what are the “all things” which have been delivered to him by the Father? Are they the Creators? Then the things which the Father delivered to the Son are good, and the Creator is therefore good, since all His “things” are good; whereas he 4493 is no longer good who has invaded anothers good (domains) to deliver it to his son, thus teaching robbery 4494 of anothers goods. Surely he must be a most mendacious being, who had no other means of enriching his son than by helping himself to anothers property! Or else, 4495 if nothing of the Creators has been delivered to him by the Father, by what right 4496 does he claim for himself (authority over) man? Or again, if man has been delivered to him, and man alone, then man is not “all things.” But Scripture clearly says that a transfer of all things has been made to the Son. If, however, you should interpret this “all” of the whole human race, that is, all nations, then the delivery of even these to the Son is within the purpose of the Creator: 4497 “I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.” 4498 If, indeed, he has some things of his own, the whole of which he might give to his son, along with the man of the Creator, then show some one thing of them all, as a sample, that I may believe; lest I should have as much reason not to believe that all things belong to him, of whom I see nothing, as I have ground for believing that even the things which I see not are His, to whom belongs the universe, which I see. But “no man knoweth who the Father is, but the Son; and who the Son is, but the Father, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.” 4499 And so it was an unknown god that Christ preached! And other heretics, too, prop themselves up by this passage; alleging in opposition to it that the Creator was known to all, both to Israel by familiar intercourse, and to the Gentiles by nature. Well, how is it He Himself testifies that He was not known to Israel? “But Israel doth not know me, and my people doth not consider me;” 4500 nor to the Gentiles: “For, behold,” says He, “of the nations I have no man.” 4501 Therefore He reckoned them “as the drop of a bucket,” 4502 while “Sion He left as a look-out 4503 in a vineyard.” 4504 See, then, whether there be not here a confirmation of the prophets word, when he rebukes that ignorance of man toward God which continued to the days of the Son of man. For it was on this account that he inserted the clause that the Father is known by him to whom the Son has revealed Him, because it was even He who was announced as set by the Father to be a light to the Gentiles, who of course required to be enlightened concerning God, as well as to Israel, even by imparting to it a fuller knowledge of God. Arguments, therefore, will be of no use for belief in the rival god which may be suitable 4505 for the Creator, because it is only such as are unfit for the Creator which will be able to advance belief in His rival. If you look also into the next words, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things which ye see, for I tell you that prophets have not seen the things which ye see,” 4506 you will find that they follow from the sense above, that no man indeed had come to the knowledge of God as he ought to have done, 4507 since even the prophets had not seen the things which were being seen under Christ. Now if He had not been my Christ, He would not have made any mention of the prophets in this passage. For what was there to wonder at, if they had not seen the things of a god who had been unknown to them, and was only revealed a long time after them? What blessedness, however, could theirs have been, who were then seeing what others were naturally 4508 unable to see, since it was of things which they had never predicted that they had not obtained the sight; 4509 if it were not because they might justly 4510 have seen the things pertaining to their God, which they had even predicted, but which they at the same time 4511 had not seen? This, however, will be the blessedness of others, even of such as were seeing the things which p. 391 others had only foretold. We shall by and by show, nay, we have already shown, that in Christ those things were seen which had been foretold, but yet had been hidden from the very prophets who foretold them, in order that they might be hidden also from the wise and the prudent. In the true Gospel, a certain doctor of the law comes to the Lord and asks, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” In the heretical gospel life only is mentioned, without the attribute eternal; so that the lawyer seems to have consulted Christ simply about the life which the Creator in the law promises to prolong, 4512 and the Lord to have therefore answered him according to the law, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength,” 4513 since the question was concerning the conditions of mere life. But the lawyer of course knew very well in what way the life which the law meant 4514 was to be obtained, so that his question could have had no relation to the life whose rules he was himself in the habit of teaching. But seeing that even the dead were now raised by Christ, and being himself excited to the hope of an eternal life by these examples of a restored 4515 one, he would lose no more time in merely looking on (at the wonderful things which had made him) so high in hope. 4516 He therefore consulted him about the attainment of eternal life. Accordingly, the Lord, being Himself the same, 4517 and introducing no new precept other than that which relates above all others 4518 to (mans) entire salvation, even including the present and the future life, 4519 places before him 4520 the very essence 4521 of the law—that he should in every possible way love the Lord his God. If, indeed, it were only about a lengthened life, such as is at the Creators disposal, that he inquired and Christ answered, and not about the eternal life, which is at the disposal of Marcions god, how is he to obtain the eternal one? Surely not in the same manner as the prolonged life. For in proportion to the difference of the reward must be supposed to be also the diversity of the services. Therefore your disciple, Marcion, 4522 will not obtain his eternal life in consequence of loving your God, in the same way as the man who loves the Creator will secure the lengthened life. But how happens it that, if He is to be loved who promises the prolonged life, He is not much more to be loved who offers the eternal life? Therefore both one and the other life will be at the disposal of one and the same Lord; because one and the same discipline is to be followed 4523 for one and the other life. What the Creator teaches to be loved, that must He necessarily maintain 4524 also by Christ, 4525 for that rule holds good here, which prescribes that greater things ought to be believed of Him who has first lesser proofs to show, than of him for whom no preceding smaller presumptions have secured a claim to be believed in things of higher import. It matters not 4526 then, whether the word eternal has been interpolated by us. 4527 It is enough for me, that the Christ who invited men to the eternal—not the lengthened—life, when consulted about the temporal life which he was destroying, did not choose to exhort the man rather to that eternal life which he was introducing. Pray, what would the Creators Christ have done, if He who had made man for loving the Creator did not belong to the Creator? I suppose He would have said that the Creator was not to be loved!
Luke x. 21.389:4467
On the Marcionite hypothesis.389:4472
In quem competunt omnia.389:4474
Isa. vii. 9.389:4475
Rom. i. 20-23.389:4476
Isa. xxix. 14, Sept.389:4480
Isa. xlv. 3, Sept.389:4481
Ventriloquorum, Greek ἐγγαστριμύθων.389:4482
Isa. xliv. 25, Sept.389:4483
Isa. 42:6, Isa. 49:6.389:4484
Luke x. 21.389:4485
Res ejus edisserens.389:4487
Uti traduceret eas.390:4488
Luke x. 22.390:4491
ἐπερχόμενος ille; on which see above, chap. xxiii. p. 385.390:4493
Ps. ii. 8.390:4499
Luke x. 22.390:4500
Isa. i. 3.390:4501
This passage it is not easy to identify. [See Is. lxiii. 3.] The books point to Isa. lxv. 5, but there is there no trace of it.390:4502
Isa. xl. 15. [Compare Is. lxiii. 3. Sept.]390:4503
When the vintage was gathered, Isa. i. 8.390:4505
Quæ competere possunt.390:4506
Luke 10:23, 24.390:4507
Exod. 20:12, Deut. 6:2.391:4513
Luke x. 27.391:4514
This is perhaps the meaning of “ne plus aliquid observationis exigeret sublimior spe.”391:4517
Et utramque vitam.391:4520
i.e., he must needs have it taught and recommended by Christ.391:4526
As Marcion pretended.
Next: From St. Luke's Eleventh Chapter Other Evidence that Christ Comes from the Creator. The Lord's Prayer and Other Words of Christ. The Dumb Spirit and Christ's Discourse on Occasion of the Expulsion. The Exclamation of the Woman in the Crowd.
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