Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: Chapter II.
But not yet about the good to be got from martyrdom must we learn, without our having first heard about the duty of suffering it; nor must we learn the usefulness of it, before we have heard about the necessity for it. The (question of the) divine warrant goes first—whether God has willed and also commanded ought of the kind, so that they who assert that it is not good are not plied with arguments for thinking it profitable save when they have been subdued. 8228 It is proper that heretics be driven 8229 to duty, not enticed. Obstinacy must be conquered, not coaxed. And, certainly, that will be pronounced beforehand quite good enough, which will be shown to have been instituted and also enjoined by God. Let the Gospels wait a little, while I set forth their root the Law, while I ascertain the will of God from those writings from which I recall to mind Himself also: “I am,” says He, “God, thy God, who have brought thee out of the land of Egypt. Thou shalt have no other gods besides me. Thou shalt not make unto thee a likeness of those things which are in heaven, and which are in the earth beneath, and which are in the sea under the earth. Thou shalt not worship them, nor serve them. For I am the Lord thy God.” 8230 Likewise in the same book of Exodus: “Ye yourselves have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. Ye shall not make unto you gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold.” 8231 To the following effect also, in Deuteronomy: “Hear, O Israel; The Lord thy God is one: and thou shalt love the p. 635 Lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy might, and with all thy soul.” 8232 And again: “Neither do thou forget the Lord thy God, who brought thee forth from the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve Him only, and cleave to Him, and swear by His name. Ye shall not go after strange gods, and the gods of the nations which are round about you, because the Lord thy God is also a jealous God among you, and lest His anger should be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.” 8233 But setting before them blessings and curses, He also says: “Blessings shall be yours, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, whatsoever I command you this day, and do not wander from the way which I have commanded you, to go and serve other gods whom ye know not.” 8234 And as to rooting them out in every way: “Ye shall utterly destroy all the places wherein the nations, which ye shall possess by inheritance, served their gods, upon mountains and hills, and under shady trees. Ye shall overthrow all their altars, ye shall overturn and break in pieces their pillars, and cut down their groves, and burn with fire the graven images of the gods themselves, and destroy the names of them out of that place.” 8235 He further urges, when they (the Israelites) had entered the land of promise, and driven out its nations: “Take heed to thy self, that thou do not follow them after they be driven out from before thee, that thou do not inquire after their gods, saying, As the nations serve their gods, so let me do likewise.” 8236 But also says He: “If there arise among you a prophet himself, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and it come to pass, and he say, Let us go and serve other gods, whom ye know not, do not hearken to the words of that prophet or dreamer, for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye fear God with all your heart and with all your soul. After the Lord your God ye shall go, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, and serve Him, and cleave unto Him. But that prophet or dreamer shall die; for he has spoken to turn thee away from the Lord thy God.” 8237 But also in another section, 8238 “If, however, thy brother, the son of thy father or of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend who is as thine own soul, solicit thee, saying secretly, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou knowest not, nor did thy fathers, of the gods of the nations which are round about thee, very nigh unto thee or far off from thee, do not consent to go with him, and do not hearken to him. Thine eye shall not spare him, neither shalt thou pity, neither shalt thou preserve him; thou shalt certainly inform upon him. Thine hand shall be first upon him to kill him, and afterwards the hand of thy people; and ye shall stone him, and he shall die, seeing he has sought to turn thee away from the Lord thy God.” 8239 He adds likewise concerning cities, that if it appeared that one of these had, through the advice of unrighteous men, passed over to other gods, all its inhabitants should be slain, and everything belonging to it become accursed, and all the spoil of it be gathered together into all its places of egress, and be, even with all the people, burned with fire in all its streets in the sight of the Lord God; and, says He, “it shall not be for dwelling in for ever: it shall not be built again any more, and there shall cleave to thy hands nought of its accursed plunder, that the Lord may turn from the fierceness of His anger.” 8240 He has, from His abhorrence of idols, framed a series of curses too: “Cursed be the man who maketh a graven or a molten image, an abomination, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place.” 8241 But in Leviticus He says: “Go not ye after idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God.” 8242 And in other passages: “The children of Israel are my household servants; these are they whom I led forth from the land of Egypt: 8243 I am the Lord your God. Ye shall not make you idols fashioned by the hand, neither rear you up a graven image. Nor shall ye set up a remarkable stone in your land (to worship it): I am the Lord your God.” 8244 These words indeed were first spoken by the Lord by the lips of Moses, being applicable certainly to whomsoever the Lord God of Israel may lead forth in like manner from the Egypt of a most superstitious world, and from the abode of human slavery. But from the mouth of every prophet in succession, sound forth also utterances of the same God, augmenting the same law of His by a renewal of the same commands, and in the first place announcing no other duty in so special a manner as the being on guard against all making and worshipping of idols; as when p. 636 by the mouth of David He says: “The gods of the nations are silver and gold: they have eyes, and see not; they have ears, and hear not; they have a nose, and smell not; a mouth, and they speak not; hands, and they handle not; feet and they walk not. Like to them shall be they who make them, and trust in them.” 8245
By those in favour of its having been divinely enjoined.634:8229
By argument, of course.—Tr.634:8230
Ex. xx. 2.634:8231
Exod. 20:22, 23.635:8232
Deut. vi. 4.635:8233
Deut. vi. 12.635:8234
Deut. xi. 27.635:8235
Deut. 12:2, 3.635:8236
Deut. xii. 30.635:8237
Deut. xiii. 1.635:8238
Of course our division of the Scripture by chapter and verse did not exist in the days of Tertullian.—Tr.635:8239
Deut. xiii. 6.635:8240
Deut. xiii. 16.635:8241
Deut. xxvii. 15.635:8242
Rev. xix. 4.635:8243
The words in the Septuagint are: ὃτι ἐμοὶ οἱ υἱοὶτ ᾽Ισραὴλ οἰκέται εἰσίν, παῖδές μου οὗτοί εἰσιν οὕς ἐξήγαγον ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου.635:8244
Lev. 25:55, Lev. 26:1.636:8245
Ps. 35:15, Ps. 15:4.
Next: Chapter III.
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