Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: An Argument of Hermogenes. The Answer: While God is a Title Eternally Applicable to the Divine Being, Lord and Father are Only Relative Appellations, Not Eternally Applicable. An Inconsistency in the Argument of Hermogenes Pointed Out.
Chapter III.—An Argument of Hermogenes. The Answer: While God is a Title Eternally Applicable to the Divine Being, Lord and Father are Only Relative Appellations, Not Eternally Applicable. An Inconsistency in the Argument of Hermogenes Pointed Out.
He adds also another point: that as God was always God, there was never a time when God was not also Lord. But 6151 it was in no way possible for Him to be regarded as always Lord, in the same manner as He had been always God, if there had not been always, in the previous eternity, 6152 a something of which He could be regarded as evermore the Lord. So he concludes 6153 that God always had Matter co-existent with Himself as the Lord thereof. Now, this tissue 6154 of his I shall at once hasten to pull abroad. I have been willing to set it out in form to this length, for the information of those who are unacquainted with the subject, that they may know that his other arguments likewise need only be 6155 understood to be refuted. We affirm, then, that the name of God always existed with Himself and in Himself—but not eternally so the Lord. Because the condition of the one is not the same as that of the other. God is the designation of the substance itself, that is, of the Divinity; but Lord is (the name) not of substance, but of power. I maintain that the substance existed always with its own name, which is God; the title Lord was afterwards added, as the indication indeed 6156 of something accruing. For from the moment when those things began to exist, over which the power of a Lord was to act, God, by the accession of that power, both became Lord and received the name thereof. Because God is in like manner a Father, and He is also a Judge; but He has not always been Father and Judge, merely on the ground of His having always been God. For He could not have been the Father previous to the Son, nor a Judge previous to sin. There was, however, a time when neither sin existed with Him, nor the Son; the former of which was to constitute the Lord a Judge, and the latter a Father. In this way He was not Lord previous to those things of which He was to be the Lord. But He was only to become Lord at some future time: just as He became the Father by the Son, and a Judge by sin, so also did He become Lord by means of those things which He had made, in order that they might serve Him. Do I seem to you to be weaving arguments, 6157 Hermogenes? How neatly does Scripture lend us its aid, 6158 when it applies the two titles to Him with a distinction, and reveals them each at its proper time! For (the title) God, indeed, which p. 479 always belonged to Him, it names at the very first: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth;” 6159 and as long as He continued making, one after the other, those things of which He was to be the Lord, it merely mentions God. “And God said,” “and God made,” “and God saw;” 6160 but nowhere do we yet find the Lord. But when He completed the whole creation, and especially man himself, who was destined to understand His sovereignty in a way of special propriety, He then is designated 6161 Lord. Then also the Scripture added the name Lord: “And the Lord God, Deus Dominus, took the man, whom He had formed;” 6162 “And the Lord God commanded Adam.” 6163 Thenceforth He, who was previously God only, is the Lord, from the time of His having something of which He might be the Lord. For to Himself He was always God, but to all things was He only then God, when He became also Lord. Therefore, in as far as (Hermogenes) shall suppose that Matter was eternal, on the ground that the Lord was eternal, in so far will it be evident that nothing existed, because it is plain that the Lord as such did not always exist. Now I mean also, on my own part, 6164 to add a remark for the sake of ignorant persons, of whom Hermogenes is an extreme instance, 6165 and actually to retort against him his own arguments. 6166 For when he denies that Matter was born or made, I find that, even on these terms, the title Lord is unsuitable to God in respect of Matter, because it must have been free, 6167 when by not having a beginning it had not an author. The fact of its past existence it owed to no one, so that it could be a subject to no one. Therefore ever since God exercised His power over it, by creating (all things) out of Matter, although it had all along experienced God as its Lord, yet Matter does, after all, demonstrate that God did not exist in the relation of Lord to it, 6168 although all the while He was really so. 6169
Argumentari: in the sense of argutari.478:6158
Naviter nobis patrocinatur.479:6159
Gen. i. 1.479:6160
Gen. i. 3, etc.479:6161
Cognominatur: as if by way of surname, Deus Dominus.479:6162
Gen. ii. 15.479:6163
Gen. ii. 16.479:6164
Extrema linea. Rhenanus sees in this phrase a slur against Hermogenes, who was an artist. Tertullian, I suppose, meant that Hermogenes was extremely ignorant.479:6166
Libera: and so not a possible subject for the Lordship of God.479:6168
Matter having, by the hypothesis, been independent of God, and so incapable of giving Him any title to Lordship.479:6169
Fuit hoc utique. In Hermogenes own opinion, which is thus shown to have been contradictory to itself, and so absurd.
Next: Hermogenes Gives Divine Attributes to Matter, and So Makes Two Gods.
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