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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Curious Views Respecting God's Method of Working with Matter Exposed. Discrepancies in the Heretic's Opinion About God's Local Relation to Matter.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XLIV.—Curious Views Respecting God’s Method of Working with Matter Exposed. Discrepancies in the Heretic’s Opinion About God’s Local Relation to Matter.

But it remains that I should show also how you make God work. You are plainly enough at variance with the philosophers; but neither are you in accord with the prophets. The Stoics maintain that God pervaded Matter, just as honey the honeycomb. You, however, affirm that it is not by pervading Matter that God makes the world, but simply by appearing, and approaching it, just as beauty affects 6589 a thing by simply appearing, and a loadstone by approaching it. Now what similarity is there in God forming the world, and beauty wounding a soul, or a magnet attracting iron? For even if God appeared to Matter, He yet did not wound it, as beauty does the soul; if, again, He approached it, He yet did not cohere to it, as the magnet does to the iron. Suppose, however, that your examples are suitable ones. Then, of course, 6590 it was by appearing and approaching to Matter that God made the world, and He made it when He appeared and when He approached to it. Therefore, since He had not made it before then, 6591 He had neither appeared nor approached to it.  Now, by whom can it be believed that God had not appeared to Matter—of the same nature as it even was owing to its eternity? Or that He had been at a distance from it—even He whom we believe to be existent everywhere, and everywhere apparent; whose praises all things chant, even inanimate things and things incorporeal, acp. 502 cording to (the prophet) Daniel? 6592 How immense the place, where God kept Himself so far aloof from Matter as to have neither appeared nor approached to it before the creation of the world! I suppose He journeyed to it from a long distance, as soon as He wished to appear and approach to it.



Facit quid decor.






Dan. iii. 21.

Next: Conclusion.  Contrast Between the Statements of Hermogenes and the Testimony of Holy Scripture Respecting the Creation.  Creation Out of Nothing, Not Out of Matter.

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