Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part III: As God is the Author of Patience So the Devil is of Impatience.
Chapter V.—As God is the Author of Patience So the Devil is of Impatience.
Nevertheless, the proceeding 9049 of a discussion on the necessaries of faith is not idle, because it is not unfruitful. In edification no loquacity is base, if it be base at any time. 9050 And so, if the discourse be concerning some particular good, the subject requires us to review also the contrary of that good. For you will throw more light on what is to be pursued, if you first give a digest of what is to be avoided.
Let us therefore consider, concerning Impatience, whether just as patience in God, so its adversary quality have been born and detected in our adversary, that from this consideration may appear how primarily adverse it is to faith. For that which has been conceived by Gods rival, of course is not friendly to Gods things. The discord of things is the same as the discord of their authors. Further, since God is best, the devil on the contrary worst, of beings, by their own very diversity they testify that neither works for 9051 the other; so that anything of good can no more seem to be effected for us by the Evil One, than anything of evil by the Good. Therefore I detect the nativity of impatience in the devil himself, at that very time when he impatiently bore that the Lord God subjected the universal works which He had made to His own image, that is, to man. 9052 For if he had endured (that), he would not have grieved; nor would he have envied man if he had not grieved. Accordingly he deceived him, because he had envied him; but he had envied because he had grieved: he had grieved because, of course, he had not patiently borne. What that angel of perdition 9053 first was—malicious or impatient—I scorn to inquire: since manifest it is that either impatience took its rise together with malice, or else malice from impatience; that subsequently they conspired between themselves; and that they grew up indivisible in one paternal bosom. But, however, having been instructed, by his own experiment, what an aid unto sinning was that which he had been the first to feel, and by means of which he p. 710 had entered on his course of delinquency, he called the same to his assistance for the thrusting of man into crime. The woman, 9054 immediately on being met by him—I may say so without rashness—was, through his very speech with her, breathed on by a spirit infected with impatience: so certain is it that she would never have sinned at all, if she had honoured the divine edict by maintaining her patience to the end. What (of the fact) that she endured not to have been met alone; but in the presence of Adam, not yet her husband, not yet bound to lend her his ears, 9055 she is impatient of keeping silence, and makes him the transmitter of that which she had imbibed from the Evil One? Therefore another human being, too, perishes through the impatience of the one; presently, too, perishes of himself, through his own impatience committed in each respect, both in regard of Gods premonition and in regard of the devils cheatery; not enduring to observe the former nor to refute the latter. Hence, whence (the origin) of delinquency, arose the first origin of judgment; hence, whence man was induced to offend, God began to be wroth. Whence (came) the first indignation in God, thence (came) His first patience; who, content at that time with malediction only, refrained in the devils case from the instant infliction 9056 of punishment. Else what crime, before this guilt of impatience, is imputed to man? Innocent he was, and in intimate friendship with God, and the husbandman 9057 of paradise. But when once he succumbed to impatience, he quite ceased to be of sweet savour 9058 to God; he quite ceased to be able to endure things celestial. Thenceforward, a creature 9059 given to earth, and ejected from the sight of God, he begins to be easily turned by impatience unto every use offensive to God. For straightway that impatience conceived of the devils seed, produced, in the fecundity of malice, anger as her son; and when brought forth, trained him in her own arts. For that very thing which had immersed Adam and Eve in death, taught their son, too, to begin with murder. It would be idle for me to ascribe this to impatience, if Cain, that first homicide and first fratricide, had borne with equanimity and not impatiently the refusal by the Lord of his own oblations—if he is not wroth with his own brother—if, finally, he took away no ones life. Since, then, he could neither have killed unless he had been wroth, nor have been wroth unless he had been impatient, he demonstrates that what he did through wrath must be referred to that by which wrath was suggested during this cradle-time of impatience, then (in a certain sense) in her infancy. But how great presently were her augmentations! And no wonder, If she has been the first delinquent, it is a consequence that, because she has been the first, therefore she is the only parent stem, 9060 too, to every delinquency, pouring down from her own fount various veins of crimes. 9061 Of murder we have spoken; but, being from the very beginning the outcome of anger, 9062 whatever causes besides it shortly found for itself it lays collectively on the account of impatience, as to its own origin. For whether from private enmities, or for the sake of prey, any one perpetrates that wickedness, 9063 the earlier step is his becoming impatient of 9064 either the hatred or the avarice. Whatever compels a man, it is not possible that without impatience of itself it can be perfected in deed. Who ever committed adultery without impatience of lust? Moreover, if in females the sale of their modesty is forced by the price, of course it is by impatience of contemning gain 9065 that this sale is regulated. 9066 These (I mention) as the principal delinquencies in the sight of the Lord, 9067 for, to speak compendiously, every sin is ascribable to impatience. “Evil” is “impatience of good.” None immodest is not impatient of modesty; dishonest of honesty; impious of piety; 9068 unquiet of quietness. In order that each individual may become evil he will be unable to persevere 9069 in being good. How, therefore, can such a hydra of delinquencies fail to offend the Lord, the Disapprover of evils? Is it not manifest that it was through impatience that Israel himself also always failed in his duty toward God, from that time when, 9070 forgetful of the heavenly arm whereby he had been drawn out of his Egyptian affliction, he demands from Aaron “gods 9071 as his guides;” when he pours down for an idol the contributions of his gold: for the so necessary delays of Moses, while he met with God, he had borne with impatience. After the edible rain p. 711 of the manna, after the watery following 9072 of the rock, they despair of the Lord in not enduring a three-days thirst; 9073 for this also is laid to their charge by the Lord as impatience. And—not to rove through individual cases—there was no instance in which it was not by failing in duty through impatience that they perished. How, moreover, did they lay hands on the prophets, except through impatience of hearing them? on the Lord moreover Himself, through impatience likewise of seeing Him? But had they entered the path of patience, they would have been set free. 9074
“Procedere:” so Oehler, who, however, notices an ingenious conjecture of Jos. Scaliger—“procudere,” the hammering out, or forging.709:9050
Tertullian may perhaps wish to imply, in prayer. See Matt. vi. 7.709:9051
Facere. But Fulv. Ursinus (as Oehler tells us) has suggested a neat emendation—“favere,” favours.709:9052
See Ps. viii. 4-6.709:9053
Compare the expression in de Idol. iv., “perdition of blood” ="bloody perdition,” and the note there. So here “angel of perdition” may ="lost angel.”710:9054
Mulier. See de Orat. c. xxii.710:9055
1 Cor. 7:3, 1 Pet. 3:7.710:9056
Colonus. Gen. ii. 15.710:9058
Sapere. See de Idol. c. i. sub fin.710:9059
Matrix. Mr. Dodgson renders womb, which is admissible; but the other passages quoted by Oehler, where Tertullian uses this word, seem to suit better with the rendering given in the text.710:9061
Compare a similar expression in de Idol. ii. ad init.710:9062
Which Tertullian has just shown to be the result of impatience.710:9063
i.e. unable to restrain.710:9065
i.e. want of power or patience to contemn gain.710:9066
“Ordinatur;” but “orditur” has been very plausibly conjectured.710:9067
Mr. Dodgson refers to ad Uxor. i. 5, q. v. sub fin.710:9068
Or, “unduteous of duteousness.”710:9069
I have departed slightly here from Oehlers punctuation.710:9071
Exod. 32:1, Acts 7:39, 40.711:9072
i.e. the water which followed them, after being given forth by the smitten rock. See 1 Cor. x. 4.711:9073
See Num. xx. 1-6. But Tertullian has apparently confused this with Ex. xv. 22, which seems to be the only place where “a three-days thirst” is mentioned.711:9074
Free, i.e. from the bondage of impatience and of sin.
Next: Patience Both Antecedent and Subsequent to Faith.
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