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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Conclusion.  Contrast Between the Statements of Hermogenes and the Testimony of Holy Scripture Respecting the Creation.  Creation Out of Nothing, Not Out of Matter.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XLV.—Conclusion. Contrast Between the Statements of Hermogenes and the Testimony of Holy Scripture Respecting the Creation. Creation Out of Nothing, Not Out of Matter.

But it is not thus that the prophets and the apostles have told us that the world was made by God merely appearing and approaching Matter. They did not even mention any Matter, but (said) that Wisdom was first set up, the beginning of His ways, for His works. 6593 Then that the Word was produced, “through whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made.” 6594 Indeed, “by the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all their hosts by the breath of His mouth.” 6595 He is the Lord’s right hand, 6596 indeed His two hands, by which He worked and constructed the universe. “For,” says He, “the heavens are the works of Thine hands,” 6597 wherewith “He hath meted out the heaven, and the earth with a span.” 6598 Do not be willing so to cover God with flattery, as to contend that He produced by His mere appearance and simple approach so many vast substances, instead of rather forming them by His own energies. For this is proved by Jeremiah when he says, “God hath made the earth by His power, He hath established the world by His wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by His understanding.” 6599 These are the energies by the stress of which He made this universe. 6600 His glory is greater if He laboured. At length on the seventh day He rested from His works. Both one and the other were after His manner. If, on the contrary, 6601 He made this world simply by appearing and approaching it, did He, on the completion of His work, cease to appear and approach it any more. Nay rather, 6602 God began to appear more conspicuously and to be everywhere accessible 6603 from the time when the world was made.  You see, therefore, how all things consist by the operation of that God who “made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom, and stretched out the heaven by His understanding;” not appearing merely, nor approaching, but applying the almighty efforts of His mind, His wisdom, His power, His understanding, His word, His Spirit, His might. Now these things were not necessary to Him, if He had been perfect by simply appearing and approaching. They are, however, His “invisible things,” which, according to the apostle, “are from the creation of the world clearly seen by the things that are made;” 6604 they are no parts of a nondescript 6605 Matter, but they are the sensible 6606 evidences of Himself. “For who hath known the mind of the Lord,” 6607 of which (the apostle) exclaims: “O the depth of the riches both of His wisdom and knowledge! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!” 6608 Now what clearer truth do these words indicate, than that all things were made out of nothing? They are incapable of being found out or investigated, except by God alone.  Otherwise, if they were traceable or discoverable in Matter, they would be capable of investigation. Therefore, in as far as it has become evident that Matter had no prior existence (even from this circumstance, that it is impossible 6609 for it to have had such an existence as is assigned to it), in so far is it proved that all things were made by God out of nothing. It must be admitted, however, 6610 that Hermogenes, by describing for Matter a condition like his own—irregular, confused, turbulent, of a doubtful and precipate and fervid impulse—has displayed a specimen of his own art, and painted his own portrait.



Prov. 8:22, 23.


John i. 3.


Spiritu Ipsius: “by His Spirit.” See Ps. xxxiii. 6.


Isa. xlviii. 13.


Ps. cii. 25.


Isa. 40:12, Isa. 48:13.


Jer. li. 15.


Ps. lxiv. 7.


Aut si.




Ubique conveniri.


Rom. i. 20.


Nescio quæ.




Rom. xi. 34.


Rom. 11.33.


Nec competat.


Nisi quod.

Next: Against the Valentinians.

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