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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Hermogenes Makes Great Efforts to Remove Evil from God to Matter. How He Fails to Do This Consistently with His Own Argument.

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Chapter XI.—Hermogenes Makes Great Efforts to Remove Evil from God to Matter. How He Fails to Do This Consistently with His Own Argument.

But, after all, 6227 by what proofs does Hermogenes persuade us that Matter is evil? For it will be impossible for him not to call that evil to which he imputes evil. Now we lay down this principle, 6228 that what is eternal cannot possibly admit of diminution and subjection, so as to be considered inferior to another co-eternal Being. So that we now affirm that evil is not even compatible with it, 6229 since it is incapable of subjection, from the fact that it cannot in any wise be subject to any, because it is eternal.  But inasmuch as, on other grounds, 6230 it is evident what is eternal as God is the highest good, whereby also He alone is good—as being eternal, and therefore good—as being God, how can evil be inherent in Matter, which (since it is eternal) must needs be believed to be the highest good? Else if that which is eternal prove to be also capable of evil, this (evil) will be able to be also believed of God to His prejudice; 6231 so that it is without adequate reason that he has been so anxious 6232 to remove evil from God; since evil must be compatible with an eternal Being, even by being made compatible with Matter, as Hermogenes makes it. But, as the argument now stands, 6233 since what is eternal can be deemed evil, the evil must prove to be invincible and insuperable, as being eternal; and in that case 6234 it will be in vain that we labour “to put away evil from the midst of us;” 6235 in that case, moreover, God vainly gives us such a command and precept; nay more, in vain has God appointed any judgment at all, when He means, indeed, 6236 to inflict punishment with injustice.  But if, on the other hand, there is to be an end of evil, when the chief thereof, the devil, shall “go away into the fire which God hath prepared for him and his angels” 6237 —having been first “cast into the bottomless pit;” 6238 when likewise “the manifestation of the children of God” 6239 shall have “delivered the creature” 6240 from evil, which had been “made subject to vanity;” 6241 when the cattle restored in the innocence and integrity of their nature 6242 shall be at peace 6243 with the beasts of the field, when also little children shall play with serpents; 6244 when the Father shall have put beneath the feet of His Son His enemies, 6245 as being the workers of evil,—if in this way an end is compatible with evil, it must follow of necessity that a beginning is also compatible with it; and Matter will turn out to have a beginning, by virtue of its having also an end. For whatever things are set to the account of evil, 6246 have a compatibility with the condition of evil.



Et tamen.




Competere illi.




Et in Deum credi.




Jam vero.




1 Cor. v. 13.


Utique: with a touch of irony, in the argumentum ad hominem.


Matt. xxv. 41.


Rev. xx. 3.


Rom. viii. 19.


Rom. viii. 21.


Rom. viii. 20.


Conditionis: “creation.”




Isa. xi. 6.


Ps. cx. 1.


Male deputantur.

Next: The Mode of Controversy Changed. The Premisses of Hermogenes Accepted, in Order to Show into What Confusion They Lead Him.

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