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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: A Presumption that All Things Were Created by God Out of Nothing Afforded by the Ultimate Reduction of All Things to Nothing. Scriptures Proving This Reduction Vindicated from Hermogenes' Charge of Being Merely Figurative.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXXIV.—A Presumption that All Things Were Created by God Out of Nothing Afforded by the Ultimate Reduction of All Things to Nothing.  Scriptures Proving This Reduction Vindicated from Hermogenes’ Charge of Being Merely Figurative.

Besides, 6489 the belief that everything was made from nothing will be impressed upon us by that ultimate dispensation of God which will bring back all things to nothing. For “the very heaven shall be rolled together as a scroll;” 6490 nay, it shall come to nothing along with the earth itself, with which it was made in the beginning. “Heaven and earth shall pass away,” 6491 says He. “The first heaven and the first earth passed away,” 6492 “and there was found no place for them,” 6493 because, of course, that which comes to an p. 497 end loses locality. In like manner David says, “The heavens, the works of Thine hands, shall themselves perish.  For even as a vesture shall He change them, and they shall be changed.” 6494 Now to be changed is to fall from that primitive state which they lose whilst undergoing the change. “And the stars too shall fall from heaven, even as a fig-tree casteth her green figs 6495 when she is shaken of a mighty wind.” 6496 “The mountains shall melt like wax at the presence of the Lord;” 6497 that is, “when He riseth to shake terribly the earth.” 6498 “But I will dry up the pools;” 6499 and “they shall seek water, and they shall find none.” 6500 Even “the sea shall be no more.” 6501 Now if any person should go so far as to suppose that all these passages ought to be spiritually interpreted, he will yet be unable to deprive them of the true accomplishment of those issues which must come to pass just as they have been written. For all figures of speech necessarily arise out of real things, not out of chimerical ones; because nothing is capable of imparting anything of its own for a similitude, except it actually be that very thing which it imparts in the similitude. I return therefore to the principle 6502 which defines that all things which have come from nothing shall return at last to nothing. For God would not have made any perishable thing out of what was eternal, that is to say, out of Matter; neither out of greater things would He have created inferior ones, to whose character it would be more agreeable to produce greater things out of inferior ones,—in other words, what is eternal out of what is perishable. This is the promise He makes even to our flesh, and it has been His will to deposit within us this pledge of His own virtue and power, in order that we may believe that He has actually 6503 awakened the universe out of nothing, as if it had been steeped in death, 6504 in the sense, of course, of its previous non-existence for the purpose of its coming into existence. 6505





Isa. 34:4, Matt. 24:29, 2 Pet. 3:10, Rev. 6:14.


Matt. xxiv. 35.


Rev. xxi. 1.


Rev. xx. 11.


Ps. 2:25, 26.


Acerba sua “grossos suos” (Rigalt.). So our marginal reading.


Rev. vi. 13.


Ps. xcvii. 5.


Isa. ii. 19.


Isa. xlii. 15.


Isa. xli. 17.


Etiam mare hactenus, Rev. xxi. 1.








In hoc, ut esset. Contrasted with the “non erat” of the previous sentence, this must be the meaning, as if it were “ut fieret.”

Next: Contradictory Propositions Advanced by Hermogenes Respecting Matter and Its Qualities.

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