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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: A Curious Inconsistency in Hermogenes Exposed. Certain Expressions in The History of Creation Vindicated in The True Sense.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXVIII.—A Curious Inconsistency in Hermogenes Exposed.  Certain Expressions in The History of Creation Vindicated in The True Sense.

But we shall show not only that this condition 6392 agreed with this earth of ours, but that p. 493 it did not agree with that other (insisted on by Hermogenes). For, inasmuch as pure Matter was thus subsistent with God, 6393 without the interposition indeed of any element at all (because as yet there existed nothing but itself and God), it could not of course have been invisible. Because, although Hermogenes contends that darkness was inherent in the substance of Matter, a position which we shall have to meet in its proper place, 6394 yet darkness is visible even to a human being (for the very fact that there is the darkness is an evident one), much more is it so to God. If indeed it 6395 had been invisible, its quality would not have been by any means discoverable. How, then, did Hermogenes find out 6396 that that substance was “without form,” and confused and disordered, which, as being invisible, was not palpable to his senses? If this mystery was revealed to him by God, he ought to give us his proof. I want to know also, whether (the substance in question) could have been described as “void.” That certainly is “void” which is imperfect. Equally certain is it, that nothing can be imperfect but that which is made; it is imperfect when it is not fully made. 6397 Certainly, you admit. Matter, therefore, which was not made at all, could not have been imperfect; and what was not imperfect was not “void.” Having no beginning, because it was not made, it was also unsusceptible of any void-condition. 6398 For this void-condition is an accident of beginning. The earth, on the contrary, which was made, was deservedly called “void.”  For as soon as it was made, it had the condition of being imperfect, previous to its completion.


Footnotes

492:6392

Habitum.

493:6393

Deo subjacebat.

493:6394

See below, ch. xxx. p. 494.

493:6395

Matter.

493:6396

“Compertus est” is here a deponent verb.

493:6397

Minus factum.

493:6398

Rudimento. Tertullian uses the word “rudis” (unformed) for the scriptural term (“void”); of this word “rudimentum” is the abstract.


Next: The Gradual Development of Cosmical Order Out of Chaos in the Creation, Beautifully Stated.

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