Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: An Eulogy on the Wisdom and Word of God, by Which God Made All Things of Nothing.
Chapter XVIII.—An Eulogy on the Wisdom and Word of God, by Which God Made All Things of Nothing.
If any material was necessary to God in the creation of the world, as Hermogenes supposed, God had a far nobler and more suitable one in His own wisdom 6291 —one which was not to be gauged by the writings of 6292 philosophers, but to be learnt from the words or prophets. This alone, indeed, knew the mind of the Lord. For “who knoweth the things of God, and the things in God, but the Spirit, which is in Him?” 6293 Now His wisdom is that Spirit. This was His counsellor, the very way of His wisdom and knowledge. 6294 Of this He made all things, making them through It, and making them with It. “When He prepared the heavens,” so says (the Scripture 6295 ), “I was present with Him; and when He strengthened above the winds the lofty clouds, and when He secured the fountains 6296 which are under the heaven, I was present, compacting these things 6297 along with Him. I was He 6298 in whom He took delight; moreover, I daily rejoiced in His presence: for He rejoiced when He had finished the world, and amongst the sons of men did He show forth His pleasure.” 6299 Now, who would not rather approve of 6300 this as the fountain and origin of all things—of this as, in very deed, the Matter of all Matter, not liable to any end, 6301 not diverse in condition, not restless in motion, not ungraceful in form, but natural, and proper, and duly proportioned, and beautiful, such truly as even God might well have required, who requires His own and not anothers? Indeed, as soon as He perceived It to be necessary for His creation of the world, He immediately creates It, and generates It in Himself. “The Lord,” says the Scripture, “possessed 6302 me, the beginning of His ways for the creation of His works. Before the worlds He founded me; before He made the earth, before the mountains were settled in their places; moreover, before the hills He generated me, and prior to the depths was I begotten.” 6303 Let Hermogenes then confess that the very Wisdom of God is declared to be born and created, for the especial reason that we should not suppose that there is any other being than God alone who is unbegotten and uncreated. For if that, which from its being inherent in the Lord 6304 was of Him and in Him, was yet not without a beginning,—I mean 6305 His wisdom, which was then born and created, when in the thought of God It began to assume motion 6306 for the arrangement of His creative works,—how much more impossible 6307 is it that anything should have been without a beginning which was extrinsic to the Lord! 6308 But if this same Wisdom is the Word of God, in the capacity 6309 of Wisdom, and (as being He) without whom nothing was made, just as also (nothing) was set in order without Wisdom, how can it be that anything, except the Father, should be older, and on this account indeed nobler, than the Son of God, the only-begotten and first-begotten Word? Not to say that 6310 what is unbegotten is stronger than that which is born, and what is not made more powerful than that which is made. Because that which did not require a Maker to give it existence, will be much more elevated in rank than that which had an author to bring it into being. On this principle, then, 6311 if evil is indeed unbegotten, whilst the Son of God is begotten (“for,” says God, “my heart hath emitted my most excellent Word” 6312 ), I am not quite sure that evil may not be introduced by good, the stronger by the weak, in the same way as the unbegotten is by the begotten. Therefore on this ground Hermogenes puts Matter even before God, by putting it before the Son. Because the p. 488 Son is the Word, and “the Word is God,” 6313 and “I and my Father are one.” 6314 But after all, perhaps, 6315 the Son will patiently enough submit to having that preferred before Him which (by Hermogenes), is made equal to the Father!
Sophiam suam scilicet.487:6292
1 Cor. ii. 11.487:6294
Isa. xl. 14.487:6295
Or the “inquit” may indicate the very words of “Wisdom.”487:6296
Fontes. Although Oehler prefers Junius reading “montes,” he yet retains “fontes,” because Tertullian (in ch. xxxii. below) has the unmistakable reading “fontes” in a like connection.487:6297
Ad quem: the expression is masculine.487:6299
Prov. viii. 27-31.487:6300
“Non fini subditam” is Oehlers better reading than the old “sibi subditam.”487:6302
See Prov. viii.487:6304
Multo magis non capit.487:6308
On this version of Ps. xlv. 1., and its application by Tertullian, see our Anti-Marcion (p. 299, note 5).488:6313
John i. 1.488:6314
John x. 30.488:6315
Next: An Appeal to the History of Creation. True Meaning of the Term Beginning, Which the Heretic Curiously Wrests to an Absurd Sense.
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