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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Hermogenes Coquets with His Own Argument, as If Rather Afraid of It. After Investing Matter with Divine Qualities, He Tries to Make It Somehow Inferior to God.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter V.—Hermogenes Coquets with His Own Argument, as If Rather Afraid of It. After Investing Matter with Divine Qualities, He Tries to Make It Somehow Inferior to God.

But God is God, and Matter is Matter. As if a mere difference in their names prevented equality, 6178 when an identity of condition is claimed for them! Grant that their nature is p. 480 different; assume, too, that their form is not identical,—what matters it so long as their absolute state have but one mode? 6179 God is unborn; is not Matter also unborn? God ever exists; is not Matter, too, ever existent? Both are without beginning; both are without end; both are the authors of the universe—both He who created it, and the Matter of which He made it. For it is impossible that Matter should not be regarded as the author 6180 of all things, when the universe is composed of it. What answer will he give? Will he say that Matter is not then comparable with God as soon as 6181 it has something belonging to God; since, by not having total (divinity), it cannot correspond to the whole extent of the comparison? But what more has he reserved for God, that he should not seem to have accorded to Matter the full amount of the Deity? 6182 He says in reply, that even though this is the prerogative of Matter, both the authority and the substance of God must remain intact, by virtue of which He is regarded as the sole and prime Author, as well as the Lord of all things.  Truth, however, maintains the unity of God in such a way as to insist that whatever belongs to God Himself belongs to Him alone. For so will it belong to Himself if it belong to Him alone; and therefore it will be impossible that another god should be admitted, when it is permitted to no other being to possess anything of God. Well, then, you say, we ourselves at that rate possess nothing of God. But indeed we do, and shall continue to do—only it is from Him that we receive it, and not from ourselves. For we shall be even gods, if we, shall deserve to be among those of whom He declared, “I have said, Ye are gods,” 6183 and, “God standeth in the congregation of the gods.” 6184 But this comes of His own grace, not from any property in us, because it is He alone who can make gods. The property of Matter, however, he 6185 makes to be that which it has in common with God. Otherwise, if it received from God the property which belongs to God,—I mean its attribute 6186 of eternity—one might then even suppose that it both possesses an attribute in common with God, and yet at the same time is not God. But what inconsistency is it for him 6187 to allow that there is a conjoint possession of an attribute with God, and also to wish that what he does not refuse to Matter should be, after all, the exclusive privilege of God!









Statim si.


Totum Dei.


Ps. lxxxii. 6.


Psa. 82.1.




Ordinem: or course.


Quale autem est: “how comes it to pass that.”

Next: The Shifts to Which Hermogenes is Reduced, Who Deifies Matter, and Yet is Unwilling to Hold Him Equal with the Divine Creator.

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