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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: These Latter Speculations Shown to Be Contradictory to the First Principles Respecting Matter, Formerly Laid Down by Hermogenes.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXXIX.—These Latter Speculations Shown to Be Contradictory to the First Principles Respecting Matter, Formerly Laid Down by Hermogenes.

Well, now, since it seems to you to be the correcter thing, 6546 let Matter be circumscribed 6547 by means of changes and displacements; let it also be capable of comprehension, since (as you say) it is used as material by God, 6548 on the ground of its being convertible, mutable, and separable. For its changes, you say, show it to be inseparable. And here you have swerved from your own lines 6549 which you prescribed respecting the person of God when you laid down the rule that God made it not out of His own self, because it was not possible for Him to become divided 6550 seeing that He is eternal and abiding for ever, and therefore unchangeable and indivisible. Since Matter too is estimated by the same eternity, having neither beginning nor end, it will be unsusceptible of division, of change, for the same reason that God also is. Since it is associated with Him in the joint possession of eternity, it must needs share with Him also the powers, the laws, and the conditions of eternity.  In like manner, when you say, “All things simultaneously throughout the universe 6551 possess portions of it, 6552 that so the whole may be ascertained from 6553 its parts,” you of course mean to indicate those parts which were produced out of it, and which are now visible to us.  How then is this possession (of Matter) by all things throughout the universe effected—that is, of course, from the very beginning 6554 —when the things which are now visible to us are different in their condition 6555 from what they were in the beginning?


Footnotes

499:6546

Rectius.

499:6547

Definitiva.

499:6548

Ut quæ fabricatur, inquis, a Deo.

499:6549

Lineis. Tertullian often refers to Hermogenes’ profession of painting.

499:6550

In partes venire.

499:6551

Omnia ex omnibus.

499:6552

i.e. of Matter.

499:6553

Dinoscatur ex.

499:6554

Utique ex pristinis.

499:6555

Aliter habeant.


Next: Shapeless Matter an Incongruous Origin for God's Beautiful Cosmos. Hermogenes Does Not Mend His Argument by Supposing that Only a Portion of Matter Was Used in the Creation.

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