THE FIVE BOOKS AGAINST MARCION.
[TRANSLATED BY DR. HOLMES.]
TO THE RIGHT REV. THE LORD BISHOP OF CHESTER.
My Dear Lord,
I am gratified to have your permission to dedicate this volume to your Lordship. It is the fruit of some two years’ leisure labour. Every man’s occupation spares to him some leiyana kronon; and thirty years ago you taught me, at Oxford, how to husband these opportunities in the pleasant studies of Biblical and Theological Science. For that and many other kindnesses I cannot cease to be thankful to you.
But, besides this private motive, I have in your Lordship’s own past course an additional incentive for resorting to you on this occasion. You, until lately, presided over the theological studies of our great University; and you have given great encouragement to patristic literature by your excellent edition of the Apostolic Fathers.’ To whom could I more becomingly present this humble effort to make more generally known the great merits of perhaps the greatest work of the first of the Latin Fathers than to yourself?
I remain, with much respect,
My dear Lord,
Very faithfully yours,
PREFACE BY THE TRANSLATOR.(3)
THE reader has, in this volume a translation (attempted for the first time in English) of the largest of the extant works of the earliest Latin Fathers. The most important of Tertullian’s writings have always been highly valued in the church, although, as was natural from their varied character, for different reasons. Thus his two best-known treatises, The Apology and The Prescription against Heretics, have divided between them for more than sixteen centuries the admiration of all intelligent readers,–the one for its masterly defence of the Christian religion against its heathen persecutors, and the other for its lucid vindication of the church’s rule of faith against its heretical assailants. The present work has equal claims on the reader’s appreciation, in respect of those qualities of vigorous thought, close reasoning, terse expression, and earnest purpose, enlivened by sparkling wit and impassioned eloquence, which have always secured for Tertullian, in spite of many drawbacks, the esteem which is given to a great and favourite author. If these books against Marcion have received, as indeed it must be allowed they have, less attention from the general reader than their intrinsic merit deserves, the neglect is mainly due to the fact that the interesting character of their contents is concealed by the usual title-page, which points only to a heresy supposed to be extinct and inapplicable, whether in the materials of its defence or confutation, to any modern circumstances. But many treatises of great authors, which have outlived their literal occasion, retain a value from their collateral arguments, which is not inferior to that effected by their primary subject, Such is the case with the work before us. If Marcionism is in the letter obsolete, there is its spirit still left in the church, which in more ways than one develops its ancient
characteristics. What these were, the reader will soon discover in this volume; but reference may be made even here, in passing, to that prominent aim of the heresy which gave Tertullian his opportunity of proving the essential coherence of the Old and the New Testaments, and of exhibiting both his great knowledge of the details of Holy Scripture, and his fine intelligence of the progressive nature of God’s revelation as a whole. This constitutes the charm of the present volume, which might almost be designated a Treatise on the Connection between the Jewish and the Christian Scriptures. How interesting this subject is to earnest men of the present age, is proved by the frequent treatment of it in our religious literature.(1) In order to assist the reader to a more efficient use of this volume, in reference to its copiousness of Scripture illustration, a full Index of Scriptural Passages has been drawn up. Another satisfactory result will, it is believed, accompany the reading of this volume, in the evidence which it affords of the venerable catholicity of that system of biblical and dogmatic truth which constitutes the belief of what is called the “orthodox” Christian of the present day. Orthodoxy has been impugned of late, as if it had suffered much deterioration in its transmission to us; and an advanced school of thinkers has demanded its reform by a manipulation which they have called “free handling.” To such readers, then, as prize the deposit of the Christian creed which they have received, in the light of St. Jude’s description, as “the faith once for all delivered to the saints,” it cannot but prove satisfactory to be able to trace in Tertullian, writing more than sixteen centuries ago, the outlines of their own cherished convictions–held by one who cannot be charged with too great an obsequiousness to traditional authority, and who at the same time possessed honesty, earnestness, and intelligence enough to make him an unexceptionable witness to facts of such a kind. The translator would only add, that he has, in compliance with the wise canon laid down by the editors of this series, endeavoured always to present to the reader the meaning of the
author in readable English, keeping as near as idiomatic rules allowed to the sense and even style of the original. Amidst the many well-known difficulties of Tertullian’s writings (and his Anti-Marcion is not exempt from any of these difficulties,(2)) the translator cannot hope that he has accomplished his labour without mistakes, for which he would beg the reader’s indulgence. He has, however, endeavoured to obviate the inconvenience of faulty translation by quoting in foot-notes all words, phrases, and passages which appeared to him difficult.(3) He has also added such notes as seemed necessary to illustrate the author’s argument, or to explain any obscure allusions. The translation has been made always from Oehler’s edition, with the aid of his scholary Index Verborum. Use has also been made of Semler’s edition, and the variorum reprint of the Abbe Migne, the chief result of which recension has been to convince the translator of the great superiority and general excellence of Oehler’s edition. When he had completed two-thirds of his work, he happened to meet with the French translation of Tertullian by Mon(1). Denain, in Genoude’s series, Les Peres de l’Eglise, published some twenty-five years ago. This version, which runs in fluent language always, is very unequal in its relation to the original: sometimes it has the brevity of an abridgment, sometimes the fulness of a paraphrase. Often does it miss the author’s point, and never does it keep his style. The Abbe Migne correctly describes it: “Elegans potius quam fidissimus interpres, qui Africanae loquelae asperitatem splendenti ornavit sermone, egregiaque interdum et ad vivum expressa interpretatione recreavit.”
THE FIVE BOOKS AGAINST MARCION.
WHEREIN IS DESCRIBED THE GOD OF MARCION. HE IS SHOWN TO BE UTTERLY WANTING IN ALL THE ATTRIBUTES OF THE TRUE GOD.
CHAP. I.–PREFACE. REASON FOR A NEW WORK PONTUS LENDS ITS ROUGH CHARACTER TO THE HERETIC MARCION, A NATIVE. HIS HERESY CHARACTERIZED IN A BRIEF INVECTIVE.
WHATEVER in times past(1) we have wrought in opposition to Marcion, is from the present moment no longer to be accounted of.(3) It is a new work which we are undertaking in lieu of the old one.(4) My original tract, as too hurriedly composed, I had subsequently superseded by a fuller treatise. This latter I lost, before it was completely published, by the fraud of a person who was then a brother,(5) but became afterwards an apostate. He, as it happened, had transcribed a portion of it, full of mistakes, and then published it. The necessity thus arose for an amended work; and the occasion of the new edition induced me to make a considerable addition to the treatise. This present text,(6) therefore, of my work–which is the third as superseding(7) the second, but henceforward to be considered the first instead of the third–renders a preface necessary to this issue of the tract itself that no reader may be perplexed, if he should by chance fall in with the various forms of it which are scattered about.
The Euxine Sea, as it is called, is self-contradictory in its nature, and deceptive in its name.(8) As you would not account it hospitable from its situation, so is it severed from
our more civilised waters by a certain stigma which attaches to its barbarous character. The fiercest nations inhabit it, if indeed it can be called habitation, when life is passed in waggons. They have no fixed abode; their life has(9) no germ of civilisation; they indulge their libidinous desires without restraint, and for the most part naked. Moreover, when they gratify secret lust, they hang up their quivers on their car-yokes,(10) to warn off the curious and rash observer. Thus without a blush do they prostitute their weapons of war. The dead bodies of their parents they cut up with their sheep, and devour at their feasts. They who have not died so as to become food for others, are thought to have died an accursed death. Their women are not by their sex softened to modesty. They uncover the breast, from which they suspend their battle-axes, and prefer warfare to marriage. In their climate, too, there is the same rude nature.(11) The day-time is never clear, the sun never cheerful;(12) the sky is uniformly cloudy; the whole year is wintry; the only wind that blows is the angry North. Waters melt only by fires; their rivers flow not by reason of the ice; their mountains are covered(13) with heaps of snow. All things are torpid, all stiff with cold. Nothing there has the glow(14) of life, but that ferocity which has given to scenic plays their stories of the sacrifices(15) of the Taurians, and the loves(16) of the Colchians, and the torments(17) of the Caucasus. Nothing, however, in Pontus is so barbarous
and sad as the fact that Marcion was born there, fouler than any Scythian, more roving than the waggon-life(1) of the Sarmatian, more inhuman than the Massagete, more audacious than an Amazon, darker than the cloud,(2) (of Pontus) colder than its winter, more brittle than its ice, more deceitful than the Ister, more craggy than Caucasus. Nay(3) more, the true Prometheus, Almighty God, is mangled(4) by Marcion’s blasphemies. Marcion is more savage than even the beasts of that barbarous region. For what beaver was ever a greater emasculator(5) than he who has abolished the nuptial bond? What Pontic mouse ever had such gnawing powers as he who has gnawed the Gospels to pieces? Verily, O Euxine, thou hast produced a monster more credible to philosophers than to Christians. For the cynic Diogenes used to go about, lantern in hand, at mid-day to find a man; whereas Marcion has quenched the light of his faith, and so lost the God whom he had found. His disciples will not deny that his first faith he held along with ourselves; a letter of his own (6) proves this; so that for the future(7) a heretic may from his case(8) be designated as one who, forsaking that which was prior, afterwards chose out for himself that which was not in times past.(9) For in as far as what was delivered in times past and from the beginning
will be held as truth, in so far will that be accounted heresy which is brought in later. But another brief treatise(10) will maintain this position against heretics, who ought to be refuted even without a consideration of their doctrines, on the ground that they are heretical by reason of the novelty of their opinions. Now, so far as any controversy is to be admitted, I will for the time(11) (lest our compendious principle of novelty, being called in on all occasions to our aid, should be imputed to want of confidence) begin with setting forth our adversary’s rule of belief, that it may escape no one what our main contention is to be.
CHAP. II.–MARCION, AIDED BY CERDON, TEACHES A DUALITY OF GODS; HOW HE CONSTRUCTED THIS HERESY OF AN EVIL AND A GOOD GOD.
The heretic of Pontus introduces two Gods, like the twin Symplegades of his own shipwreck: One whom it was impossible to deny, i.e. our Creator; and one whom he will never be able to prove, i.e. his own god. The unhappy man gained(12) the first idea(13) of his conceit from the simple passage of our Lord’s saying, which has reference to human beings and not divine ones, wherein He disposes of those examples of a good tree and a corrupt one;(14) how that “the good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit, neither the corrupt tree good fruit.” Which means, that an honest mind and good faith cannot produce evil deeds, any more than an evil disposition can produce good deeds. Now (like many other persons now-a-days, especially those who have an heretical proclivity), while morbidly brooding(15) over the question of the origin of evil, his perception became blunted by the very irregularity of his researches; and when he found the Creator declaring, “I am He that createth evil,”(16) inasmuch as he had already concluded from other arguments, which are satisfactory to every perverted mind, that God is the author of evil, so he now applied to the Creator the figure of the corrupt tree bringing forth evil fruit, that is, moral evil,(17) and then presumed that there ought to be another god, after the analogy of the good tree producing its good fruit. Accordingly, finding in Christ a different disposition, as it were–one of a simple and pure benevolence(18)–differing from the Creator, he readily argued that in his Christ had been revealed a new and strange(19) divinity; and then with a little leaven he leavened the whole lump of the faith, flavouring it with the acidity of his own heresy.
He had, moreover, in one(20) Cerdon an abettor of this blasphemy,–a circumstance which made them the more readily think that they saw most clearly their two gods, blind though they were; for, in truth, they had not seen the one God with soundness of faith.(21) To men of diseased vision even one lamp looks like many. One of his gods, therefore, whom he was obliged to acknowledge, he destroyed by defaming his attributes in the
matter of evil; the other, whom he laboured so hard to devise, he constructed, laying his foundation(1) in the principle of good. In what articles(2) he arranged these natures, we show by our own refutations of them.
CHAP. III.–THE UNITY OF GOD. HE IS THE SUPREME BEING, AND THERE CANNOT BE A SECOND SUPREME.
The principal, and indeed(3) the whole, contention lies in the point of number: whether two Gods may be admitted, by poetic licence (if they must be),(4) or pictorial fancy, or by the third process, as we must now add,(5) of heretical pravity. But the Christian verity has distinctly declared this principle, “God is not, if He is not one;” because we more properly believe that that has no existence which is not as it ought to be. In order, however, that you may know that God is one, ask what God is, and you will find Him to be not otherwise than one. So far as a human being can form a definition of God, I adduce one which the conscience of all men will also acknowledge,–that God is the great Supreme existing in eternity, unbegotten, unmade without beginning, without end. For such a condition as this must needs be ascribed to that eternity which makes God to be the great Supreme, because for such a purpose as this is this very attribute(6) in God; and so on as to the other qualities: so that God is the great Supreme in form and in reason, and in might and in power.(7) Now, since all are agreed on. this point (because nobody will deny that God is in some sense(8) the great Supreme, except the man who shall be able to pronounce the opposite opinion, that God is but some inferior being, in order that he may deny God by robbing Him of an attribute of God), what must be the condition of the great Supreme Himself? Surely it must be that nothing is equal to Him, i.e. that there is no other great supreme; because, if there were, He would have an equal; and if He had an equal, He would be no longer the great Supreme, now that the condition and (so to say) our law, which permits nothing to be equal to the great Supreme, is subverted. That Being, then, which is the great Supreme, must needs be unique,(9) by having no equal, and so not ceasing to be the great Supreme. Therefore He will not otherwise exist than by the condition whereby He has His being; that is, by His absolute uniqueness. Since, then, God is the great Supreme, our Christian verity has rightly declared,(10) “God is not, if He is not one.” Not as if we doubted His being God, by saying, He is not, if He is not one; but because we define Him, in whose being we thoroughly believe, to be that without which He is not God; that is to say, the great Supreme. But then(11)` the great Supreme must needs be unique. This Unique Being, therefore, will be God–not otherwise God than as the great Supreme; and not otherwise the great Supreme than as having no equal; and not otherwise having no equal than as being Unique. Whatever other god, then, you may introduce, you will at least be unable to maintain his divinity under any other guise,(12) than by ascribing to him too the property of Godhead–both eternity and supremacy over all. How, therefore, can two great Supremes co-exist, when this is the attribute of the Supreme Being, to have no equal,–an attribute which belongs to One alone, and can by no means exist in two?
CHAP. IV..–DEFENCE OF THE DIVINE UNITY AGAINST OBJECTION. NO ANALOGY BETWEEN HUMAN POWERS AND GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY. THE OBJECTION OTHERWISE UNTENABLE, FOR WHY STOP AT TWO GODS?
But some one may contend that two great Supremes may exist, distinct and separate in their own departments; and may even adduce, as an example, the kingdoms of the world, which, though they are so many in number, are yet supreme in their several regions. Such a man will suppose that human circumstances are always comparable with divine ones. Now, if this mode of reasoning be at all tolerable, what is to prevent our introducing, I will not say a third god or a fourth, but as many as there are kings of the earth? Now it is God that is in question, whose main property it is to admit of no comparison with Himself. Nature itself, therefore, if not an Isaiah, or rather God speaking by Isaiah, will deprecatingly ask, “To whom will ye liken me?”(13) Human circumstances may perhaps be compared with divine ones, but they may not be with God. God is one thing, and what belongs to God is another thing. Once more:(14) you who apply the example of a king, as a great
supreme, take care that you can use it properly. For although a king is supreme on his throne next to God, he is still inferior to God; and when he is compared with God, he will be dislodged(2) from that great supremacy which is transferred to God. Now, this being the case, how will you employ in a comparison with God an object as your example, which fails(2) in all the purposes which belong to a comparison? Why, when supreme power among kings cannot evidently be multifarious, but only unique and singular, is an exception made in the case of Him (of all others)(3) who is King of kings, and (from the exceeding greatness of His power, and the subjection of all other ranks(4) to Him) the very summit,(5) as it were, of dominion? But even in the case of rulers of that other form of government, where they one by one preside in a union of authority, if with their petty(6) prerogatives of royalty, so to say, they be brought on all points(7) into such a comparison with one another as shall make it clear which of them is superior in the essential features(8) and powers of royalty, it must needs follow that the supreme majesty will redound(9) to one alone,–all the others being gradually, by the issue of the comparison, removed and excluded from the supreme authority. Thus, although, when spread out in several hands, supreme authority seems to be multifarious, yet in its own powers, nature, and condition, it is unique. It follows, then, that if two gods are compared, as two kings and two supreme authorities, the concentration of authority must necessarily, according to the meaning of the comparison, be conceded to one of the two; because it is clear from his own superiority that he is the supreme, his rival being now vanquished, and proved to be not the greater, however great. Now, from this failure of his rival, the other is unique in power, possessing a certain solitude, as it were, in his singular pre-eminence. The inevitable conclusion at which we arrive, then, on this point is this: either we must deny that God is the great Supreme, which no wise man will allow himself to do; or say that God has no one else with whom to share His power.
CHAP. V.–THE DUAL PRINCIPLE FALLS TO THE GROUND; PLURALITY OF GODS, OF WHATEVER NUMBER, MORE CONSISTENT. ABSURDITY AND INJURY TO PIETY RESULTING FROM MARCION’S DUALITY.
But on what principle did Marcion confine his supreme powers to two? I would first ask, If there be two, why not more? Because if number be compatible with the substance of Deity, the richer you make it in number the better. Valentinus was more consistent and more liberal; for he, having once imagined two deities, Bythos and Sige,(10) poured forth a swarm of divine essences, a brood of no less than thirty AEgons, like the sow of AEneas.(11) Now, whatever principle refuses to admit several supreme begins, the same must reject even two, for there is plurality in the very lowest number after one. After unity, number commences. So, again, the same principle which could admit two could admit more. After two, multitude begins, now that one is exceeded. In short, we feel that reason herself expressly(12) forbids the belief in more gods than one, because the self-same rule lays down one God and not two, which declares that God must be a Being to which, as the great Supreme, nothing is equal; and that Being to which nothing is equal must, moreover, be unique. But further, what can be the use or advantage in supposing two supreme beings, two co-ordinate(13) powers? What numerical difference could there be when two equals differ not from one? For that thing which is the same in two is one. Even if there were several equals, all would be just as much one, because, as equals, they would not differ one from another. So, if of two beings neither differs from the other, since both of them are on the supposition(14) supreme, both being gods, neither of them is more excellent than the other; and so, having no pre-eminence, their numerical distinction(16) has no reason in it. Number, moreover, in the Deity ought to be consistent with the highest reason, or else His worship would be brought into doubt. For consider(16) now, if, when I saw two Gods before me (who, being both Supreme Beings, were equal to each other), I were to worship them both, what should I be doing? I should be much afraid that the abundance of my homage would be deemed superstition rather than piety. Because, as both of them are so equal and are both included in either of the
two, I might serve them both acceptably in only one; and by this very means I should attest their equality and unity, provided that I worshipped them mutually the one in the other, because in the one both are present to me. If I were to worship one of the two, I should be equally conscious of seeming to pour contempt on the uselessness of a numerical distinction, which was superfluous, because it indicated no difference; in other words, I should think it the safer course to worship neither of these two Gods than one of them with some scruple of conscience, or both of them to none effect.
CHAP. VI.–MARCION UNTRUE TO HIS THEORY. HE PRETENDS THAT HIS GODS ARE EQUAL, BUT HE REALLY MAKES THEM DIVERSE. THEN, ALLOWING THEIR DIVINITY, DENIES THIS DIVERSITY.
Thus far our discussion seems to imply that Marcion makes his two gods equal. For while we have been maintaining that God ought to be believed as the one only great Supreme Being, excluding from Him every possibility(1) of equality, we have treated of these topics on the assumption of two equal Gods; but nevertheless, by teaching that no equals can exist according to the law(2) of the Supreme Being, we have sufficiently affirmed the impossibility that two equals should exist. For the rest, however,(3) we know full well (4) that Marcion makes his gods unequal: one judicial, harsh, mighty in war; the other mild, placid, and simply(5) good and excellent. Let us with similar care consider also this aspect of the question, whether diversity (in the Godhead) can at any rate contain two, since equality therein failed to do so. Here again the same rule about the great Supreme will protect us, inasmuch as it settles(6) the entire condition of the Godhead. Now, challenging, and in a certain sense arresting(7) the meaning of our adversary, who does not deny that the Creator is God, I most fairly object(8) against him that he has no room for any diversity in his gods, because, having once confessed that they are on a par,(9) he cannot now pronounce them different; not indeed that human beings may not be very different under the same designation, be because the Divine Being can be neither said nor believed to be God, except as the great Supreme. Since, therefore, he is obliged to acknowledge that the God whom he does not deny is the great Supreme, it is inadmissible that he should predicate of the Supreme Being such a diminution as should subject Him to another Supreme Being. For He ceases (to be Supreme), if He becomes subject to any. Besides, it is not the characteristic of God to cease from any attribute(10) of His divinity–say, from His supremacy. For at this rate the supremacy would be endangered even in Marcion’s more powerful god, if it were capable of depreciation in the Creator. When, therefore, two gods are pronounced to be two great Supremes, it must needs follow that neither of them is greater or less than the other, neither of them loftier or lowlier than the other. If you deny(11) him to be God whom you call inferior, you deny(11) the supremacy of this inferior being. But when you confessed both gods to be divine, you confessed then both to be supreme. Nothing will you be able to take away from either of them; nothing will you be able to add. By allowing their divinity, you have denied their diversity.
CHAP. VII.–OTHER BEINGS BESIDES GOD ARE IN SCRIPTURE CALLED GOD. THIS OBJECTION FRIVOLOUS, FOR IT IS NOT A QUESTION OF NAMES. THE DIVINE ESSENCE IS THE THING AT ISSUE. HERESY, IN ITS GENERAL TERMS, THUS FAR TREATED.
But this argument you will try to shake with an objection from the name of God, by alleging that that name is a vague(12) one, and applied to other beings also; as it is written, “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty;(13) He judgeth among the gods.” And again, “I have said, Ye are gods.”(14) As therefore the attribute of supremacy would be inappropriate to these, although they are called gods, so is it to the Creator. This is a foolish objection; and my answer to it is, that its author fails to consider that quite as strong an objection might be urged against the (superior) god of Marcion: he too is called god, but is not on that account proved to be divine, as neither are angels nor men, the Creator’s handwork. If an identity of names affords a presumption in support of equality of condition, how often do worthless menials strut insolently in the names of kings–your Alexanders, Caesars, and Pompeys!(15) This fact,
however, does not detract from the real attributes of the royal persons, Nay more, the very idols of the Gentiles are called gods. Yet not one of them is divine because he is called a god. It is not, therefore, for the name of god, for its sound or its written form, that I am claiming the supremacy in the Creator, but for the essence(1) to which the name belongs; and when I find that essence alone is unbegotten and unmade–alone eternal, and the maker of all things–it is not to its name, but its state, not to its designation, but its condition, that I ascribe and appropriate the attribute of the supremacy. And so, because the essence to which I ascribe it has come(2) to be called god, you suppose that I ascribe it to the name, because I must needs use a name to express the essence, of which indeed that Being consists who is called God, and who is accounted the great Supreme because of His essence, not from His name. In short, Marcion himself, when he imputes this character to his god, imputes it to the nature,(3) not to the word. That supremacy, then, which we ascribe to God in consideration of His essence, and not because of His name, ought, as we maintain, to be equal(4) in both the beings who consist of that substance for which the name of God is given; because, in as far as they are called gods (i.e. supreme beings, on the strength, of course, of their unbegotten and eternal, and therefore great and supreme essence), in so far the attribute of being the great Supreme cannot be regarded as less or worse in one than in another great Supreme. If the happiness, and sublimity, and perfection(5) of the Supreme Being shall hold good of Marcion’s god, it will equally so of ours; and if not of ours, it will equally not hold of Marcion’s. Therefore two supreme beings will be neither equal nor unequal: not equal, because the principle which we have just expounded, that the Surpeme Being admits of no comparison with Himself, forbids it; not unequal, because another principle meets us respecting the Supreme Being, that He is capable of no diminution. So, Marcion, you are caught(6) in the midst of your own Pontic tide. The waves of truth overwhelm you on every side. You can neither set up equal gods nor unequal ones. For there are not two; so far as the question of number is properly concerned. Although the whole matter of the two gods is at issue, we have yet confined our discussion to certain bounds, within which we shall now have to contend about separate peculiarities.
CHAP. VIII.–SPECIFIC POINTS. THE NOVELTY OF MARCION’S GOD FATAL TO HIS PRETENSIONS. GOD IS FROM EVERLASTING, HE CANNOT BE IN ANY WISE NEW.
In the first place, how arrogantly do the Marcionites build up their stupid system,(7) bringing forward a new god, as if we were ashamed of the old one! So schoolboys are proud of their new shoes, but their old master beats their strutting vanity out of them. Now when I hear of a new god,(8) who, in the old world and in the old time and under the old god was unknown and unheard of; whom, (accounted as no one through such long centuries back, and ancient in men’s very ignorance of him),(9) a certain “Jesus Christ,” and none else revealed; whom Christ revealed, they say–Christ himself new, according to them, even, in ancient names–I feel grateful for this conceit(10) of theirs. For by its help I shall at once be able to prove the heresy of their tenet of a new deity. It will turn out to be such a novelty “as has made gods even for the heathen by some new and yet again and ever new title(12) for each several deification. What new god is there, except a false one? Not even Saturn will be proved to be a god by all his ancient fame, because it was a novel pretence which some time or other produced even him, when it first gave him godship.(13) On the contrary, living and perfect(14) Deity has its origin(15) neither in novelty nor in antiquity, but in its own true nature. Eternity has no time. It is itself all time. It acts; it cannot then suffer. It cannot be born, therefore it lacks age. God, if old, forfeits the eternity that is to come; if new, the eternity which is past.(16) The newness bears witness to a beginning; the oldness threatens an end. God, moreover, is as independent of beginning and end as He is of time, which is only the arbiter and measurer of a beginning and an end.
CHAP. IX.–MARCION’S GNOSTIC PRETENSIONS VAIN, FOR THE TRUE GOD IS NEITHER UNKNOWN NOR UNCERTAIN. THE CREATOR, WHOM HE OWNS TO BE GOD, ALONE SUPPLIES AN INDUCTION, BY WHICH TO JUDGE OF THE TRUE GOD.
Now I know full well by what perceptive faculty they boast of their new god; even their knowledge.(1) It is, however, this very discovery of a novel thing–so striking to common minds–as well as the natural gratification which is inherent in novelty, that I wanted to refute, and thence further to challenge a proof of this unknown god. For him whom by their knowledge(2) they present to us as new, they prove to have been unknown previous to that knowledge. Let us keep, within the strict limits and measure of our argument. Convince me there could have been an unknown god. I find, no doubt,(3) that altars have been lavished on unknown gods; that, however, is the idolatry of Athens. And on uncertain gods; but that, too, is only Roman superstition. Furthermore, uncertain gods are not well known, because no certainty about them exists; and because of this uncertainty they are therefore unknown. Now, which of these two titles shall we carve for Marcion’s god? Both, I suppose, as for a being who is still uncertain, and was formerly unknown. For inasmuch as the Creator, being a known God, caused him to be unknown; so, as being a certain God, he made him to be uncertain. But I will not go so far out of my way, as to say:(4) If God was unknown and concealed, He was overshadowed in such a region of darkness, as must have been itself new and unknown, and be even now likewise uncertain–some immense region indeed, one undoubtedly greater than the God whom it concealed. But I will briefly state my subject, and afterwards most fully pursue it, promising that God neither could have been, nor ought to have been, unknown. Could not have been, because of His greatness; ought not to have been, because of His goodness, especially as He is (supposed, by Marcion) more excellent in both these attributes than our Creator. Since, however, I observe that in some points the proof of every new and heretofore unknown god ought, for its test,(5) to be compared to the form of the Creator, it will be my duty(6) first of all to show that this very course is adopted by me in a settled plan,(7) such as I might with greater confidence(8) use in support of my argument. Before every other consideration, (let me ask) how it happens that you,(9) who acknowledge(10) the Creator to be God, and from your knowledge confess Him to be prior in existence, do not know that the other god should be examined by you in exactly the same course of investigation which has taught you how to find out a god in the first case? Every prior thing has furnished the rule for the latter. In the present question two gods are propounded, the unknown and the known. Concerning the known there is no(11) question. It is plain that He exists, else He would not be known. The dispute is concerning the unknown god. Possibly he has no existence; because, if he had, he would have been known. Now that which, so long as it is unknown, is an object to be questioned, is an uncertainty so long as it remains thus questionable; and all the while it is in this state of uncertainty, it possibly has no existence at all. You have a god who is so far certain, as he is known; and uncertain, as unknown. This being the case, does it appear to you to be justly defensible, that uncertain-
ties should be submitted for proof to the rule, and form, and standard of certainties? Now, if to the subject before us, which is in itself full of uncertainty thus far, there be applied also arguments(12) derived from uncertainties, we shall be involved in such a series of questions arising out of our treatment of these same uncertain arguments, as shall by reason of their uncertainty be dangerous to the faith, and we shall drift into those insoluble questions which the apostle has no affection for. If, again,(13) in things wherein there is found a diversity of condition, they shall prejudge, as no doubt they will,(14) uncertain, doubtful, and intricate points, by the certain, undoubted, and clear sides(15) of their rule, it will probably happen that(16) (those points) will not be submitted to the standard of certainties for determination, as being freed by the diversity of their essential condition(17) from the application of such a standard in all other respects. As, therefore, it is two gods which are the subject of our proposition, their essential condition must be the same in both. For, as concerns their divinity, they are both unbegotten, unmade, eternal. This will be their essential condition. All other points Marcion
himself seems to have made, light of,(1) for he has placed them in a different(2) category. They are subsequent in the order of treatment; indeed, they will not have to be brought into the discussion,(3) since on the essential condition there is no dispute. Now there is this absence of our dispute, because they are both of them gods. Those things, therefore, whose community of condition is evident, will, when brought to a test on the ground of that common condition,(4) have to be submitted, although they are uncertain, to the standard(5) of those certainties with which they are classed in the community of their essential condition, so as on this account to share also in their manner of proof. I shall therefore contend(6) with the greatest confidence that he is not God who is to-day uncertain, because he has been hitherto unknown; for of whomsoever it is evident that he is God, from this very fact it is (equally) evident, that he never has been unknown, and therefore never uncertain.
CHAP. X.–THE CREATOR WAS KNOWN AS THE TRUE GOD FROM THE FIRST BY HIS CREATION. ACKNOWLEDGED BY THE SOUL AND CONSCIENCE OF MAN BEFORE HE WAS REVEALED BY MOSES.
For indeed, as the Creator of all things, He was from the beginning discovered equally with them, they having been themselves manifested that He might become known as God. For although Moses, some long while afterwards, seems to have been the first to introduce the knowledge of(7) the God of the universe in the temple of his writings, yet the birthday of that knowledge must not on that account be reckoned from the Pentateuch. For the volume of Moses does not at all initiate(8) the knowledge of the Creator, but from the first gives out that it is to be traced from Paradise and Adam, not from Egypt and Moses. The greater part, therefore,(9) of the human race, although they knew not even the name of Moses, much less his writings, yet knew the God of Moses; and even when idolatry overshadowed the world with its extreme prevalence, men still spoke of Him separately by His own name as God, and the God of gods, and said, “If God grant,” and, “As God pleases,” and, “I commend you to God.”(10) Reflect, then, whether they knew Him, of whom they testify that He can do all things. To none of the writings of Moses do they owe this. The soul was before prophecy.(11) From the beginning the knowledge of God is the dowry of the soul, one and the same amongst the Egyptians, and the Syrians, and the tribes of Pontus. For their souls call the God of the Jews their God. Do not, O barbarian heretic, put Abraham before the world. Even if the Creator had been the God of one family, He was yet not later than your god; even in Pontus was He known before him. Take then your standard from Him who came first: from the Certain (must be judged) the uncertain; from the Known the unknown. Never shall God be hidden, never shall God be wanting. Always shall He be understood, always be heard, nay even seen, in whatsoever way He shall wish. God has for His witnesses this whole being of ours, and this universe wherein we dwell. He is thus, because not unknown, proved to be both God and the only One, although another still tries hard to make out his claim.
CHAP.XI.–THE EVIDENCE FOR GOD EXTERNAL TO HIM; BUT THE EXTERNAL CREATION WHICH YIELDS THIS EVIDENCE IS REALLY NOT EXTRANEOUS, FOR ALL THINGS ARE GOD’S. MARCION’S GOD, HAVING NOTHING TO SHOW FOR HIMSELF, NO GOD AT ALL. MARCION’S SCHEME ABSURDLY DEFECTIVE, NOT FURNISHING EVIDENCE FOR HIS NEW GOD’S EXISTENCE, WHICH SHOULD AT LEAST BE ABLE TO COMPETE WITH THE FULL EVIDENCE OF THE CREATOR.
And justly so, they say. For who is there that is less well known by his own (inherent) qualities than by strange(12) ones? No one. Well, I keep to this statement. How could anything be strange.(13) to God, to whom, if He were personally existent, nothing would be strange? For this is the attribute of God, that all things are His, and all things belong to Him; or else this question would not so readily be heard from us: What has He to do with things strange to Him?–a point which will be more fully noticed in its proper place. It is now sufficient to observe, that no one is proved to exist to whom nothing is proved to belong. For as the Creator is shown to be God, God without any doubt, from the fact that all things are His, and nothing is strange to Him; so the rival(14) god is seen to be no god, from the circumstance that nothing is his, and all things are therefore strange to
him. Since, then, the universe belongs to the Creator, I see no room for any other god. All things are full of their Author, and occupied by Him. If in created beings there be any portion of space anywhere void of Deity, the void will be of a false deity clearly.(1) By falsehood the truth is made clear. Why cannot the vast crowd of false gods somewhere find room for Marcion’s god? This, therefore, I insist upon, from the character(2) of the Creator, that God must have been known from the works of some world peculiarly His own, both in its human constituents, and the rest of its organic life;(3) when even the error of the world has presumed to call gods those men whom it sometimes acknowledges, on the ground that in every such case something is. seen which provides for the uses and advantages of life.(4) Accordingly, this also was believed from the character of God to be a divine function; namely, to teach or point out what is convenient and needful in human concerns. So completely has the authority which has given influence to a false divinity been borrowed from that source, whence it had previously flowed forth to the true one. One stray vegetable s at least Marcion’s god ought to have produced as his own; so might he be preached up as a new Triptolemus.(6) Or else state some reason which shall be worthy of a God, why he, supposing him to exist, created nothing; because he must, on supposition of his existence, have been a creator, on that very principle on which it is clear to us thai our God is no otherwise existent, than as having been the Creator of this universe of ours. For, once for all, the rule(7) will hold good, that they cannot both acknowledge the Creator to be God, and also prove him divine whom they wish to be equally believed in as God, except they adjust him to the standard of Him whom they and all men hold to be God; which is this, that whereas no one doubts the Creator to be God on the express ground of His having made the universe, so, on the selfsame ground, no one ought to believe that he also is God who has made nothing–except, indeed, some good reason be forthcoming. And this must needs be limited to one of two: he was either unwilling to create, or else unable. There is no third reason.(8) Now, that he was unable, is a reason unworthy of God. Whether to have been unwilling to be a worthy one, I want to inquire. Tell me, Marcion, did your god wish himself to be recognised at any time or not? With what other purpose did he come down from heaven, and preach, and having suffered rise again from the dead, if it were not that he might be acknowledged? And, doubtless, since he was acknowledged, he willed it. For no circumstance could have happened to him, if he had been unwilling. What indeed tended so greatly to the knowledge of himself, as his appearing in the humiliation of the flesh,–a degradation all the lower indeed if the flesh were only illusory?(9) For it was all the more shameful if he, who brought on himself the Creator’s curse by hanging on a tree, only pretended the assumption of a bodily substance. A far nobler foundation might he have laid for the knowledge of himself in some evidences of a creation of his own, especially when he had to become known in opposition to Him in whose territory(10) he had remained unknown by any works from the beginning. For how happens it that the Creator, although unaware, as the Marcionites aver, of any god being above Himself, and who used to declare even with an oath that He existed alone, should have guarded by such mighty works the knowledge of Himself, about which, on the assumption of His being alone without a rival, He might have spared Himself all care; while the Superior God, knowing all the while how well furnished in power His inferior rival was, should have made no provision at all towards getting Himself acknowledged? Whereas He ought to have produced works more illustrious and exalted still, in order that He might, after the Creator’s standard, both be acknowledged as God from His works, and even by nobler deeds show Himself to be more potent and more gracious than the Creator.
CHAP. XII.–IMPOSSIBILITY OF ACKNOWLEDGING GOD WITHOUT THIS EXTERNAL EVIDENCE(11) OF HIS EXISTENCE. MARCION’S REJECTION OF SUCH EVIDENCE FOR HIS GOD SAVOURS OF IMPUDENCE AND MALIGNITY.
But even if we were able to allow that he exists, we should yet be bound to argue that he is without a cause.(11) For he who had nothing (to show for himself as proof of his existence),would be without a cause, since (such) proof(12) is the whole cause that there exists
some person to whom the proof belongs. Now, in as far as nothing ought to be without a cause, that is, without a proof (because if it be without a cause, it is all one as if it be not, not having the very proof which is the cause of a thing), in so far shall I more worthily believe that God does not exist, than that He exists without a cause. For he is without a cause who has not a cause by reason of not having a proof. God, however, ought not to be without a cause, that is to say, without a proof. Thus, as often as I show that He exists without a cause, although (I allow(1) that) He exists, I do really determine this, that He does not exist; because, if He had existed, He could not have existed altogether without a cause.(2) So, too, even in regard to faith itself, I say that he(3) seeks to obtain it(4) with out cause from man, who is otherwise accustomed to believe in God from the idea he gets of Him from the testimony of His works:(5) (without cause, I repeat,) because he has provided no such proof as that whereby man has acquired the knowledge of God. For although most persons believe in Him, they do not believe at once by unaided reason,(6) without having some token of Deity in works worthy of God. And so upon this ground of inactivity and lack of works he(7) is guilty both of impudence and malignity: of impudence, in aspiring after a belief which is not due to him, and for which he has provided no foundation;(8) of malignity, in having brought many persons under the charge of unbelief by furnishing to them no groundwork for their faith.
CHAP.XIII.–THE MARCIONITES DEPRECIATE THE CREATION, WHICH, HOWEVER, IS A WORTHY WITNESS OF GOD. THIS WORTHINESS ILLUSTRATED BY REFERENCES TO THE HEATHEN PHILOSOPHERS, WHO WERE APT TO INVEST THE SEVERAL PARTS OF CREATION WITH DIVINE ATTRIBUTES.
While we are expelling from this rank (of Deity) a god who has no evidence to show for himself which is so proper and God-worthy as the testimony of the Creator, Marcion’s most shameless followers with haughty impertinence fall upon the Creator’s works to destroy them. To be sure, say they, the world is a grand work, worthy of a God. (90 Then is the Creator not at all a God? By all means He is God.(10) Therefore(11) the world is not unworthy of God, for God has made nothing unworthy of Himself; although it was for man, and not for Himself, that He made the world, (and) although every work is less than its maker. And yet, if to have been the author of our creation, such as it is, be unworthy of God, how much more unworthy of Him is it to have created absolutely nothing at all!–not even a production which, although unworthy, might yet have encouraged the hope of some better attempt. To say somewhat, then, concerning the alleged(12) unworthiness of this world’s fabric, to which among the Greeks also is assigned a name of ornament and grace,(13) not of sordidness, those very professors of wisdom,(14) from whose genius every heresy derives its spirit,(15) called the said unworthy elements divine; as Thales did water, Heraclitus fire, Anaximenes air, Anaximander all the heavenly bodies, Strato the sky and earth, Zeno the air and ether, and Plato the stars, which he calls a fiery kind of gods; whilst concerning the world, when they considered indeed its magnitude, and strength, and power, and honour, and glory,–the abundance, too, the regularity, and law of those individual elements which contribute to the production, the nourishment, the ripening, and the reproduction of all things,–the majority of the philosophers hesitated(16) to assign a beginning and an end to the said world, lest its constituent elements,(17) great as they undoubtedly are, should fail to be regarded as divine,(18) which are objects of worshsip with the Persian magi, the Egyptian hierophants, and the Indian gymnosophists. The very superstition of the crowd, inspired by the common idolatry, when ashamed of the names and fables of their ancient dead borne by their idols, has recourse to the interpretation of natural objects, and so with much ingenuity cloaks its own disgrace, figuratively reducing Jupiter to a heated substance, and Juno to an aerial one (according to the literal sense of the Greek words);(19) Vesta, in like manner, to fire, and the Muses to waters, and the Great Mother(20) to the earth, mowed as to its crops, ploughed up with lusty arms, and watered
with baths.(1) Thus Osiris also, whenever he is buried, and looked for to come to life again, and with joy recovered, is an emblem of the regularity wherewith the fruits of the ground return, and the elements recover life, and the year comes round; as also the lions of Mithras(2) are philosophical sacraments of arid and scorched nature. It is, indeed, enough for me that natural elements, foremost in site and state, should have been more readily regarded as divine than as unworthy of God. I will, however, come down to(3) humbler objects. A single floweret from the hedgerow, I say not from the meadows; a single little shellfish from any sea, I say not from the Red Sea; a single stray wing of a moorfowl, I say nothing of the peacock,–will, I presume, prove to you that the Creator was but a sorry(4) artificer!
CHAP. XIV.–ALL PORTIONS OF CREATION ATTEST THE EXCELLENCE OF THE CREATOR, WHOM MARCION VILIFIES. HIS INCONSISTENCY HEREIN EXPOSED. MARCION’S OWN GOD DID NOT HESITATE TO USE THE CREATOR’S WORKS
IN INSTITUTING HIS OWN RELIGION.
Now, when you make merry with those minuter animals, which their glorious Maker has purposely endued with a profusion. of instincts and resources,(5)–thereby teaching us that greatness has its proofs in lowliness, just as (according to the apostle)there is power even in infirmity(6)–imitate, if you can, the cells of the bee, the hills of the ant, the webs of the spider, and the threads of the silkworm; endure, too, if you know how, those very creatures(7) which infest your couch and house, the poisonous ejections of the blister-beetle,(8) the spikes of the fly, and the gnat’s Sheath and sting. What of the greater animals, when the small ones so affect you with pleasure or pain, that you cannot even in their case despise their Creator? Finally, take a circuit round your own self; survey man within and without. Even this handiwork of our God will be pleasing to you, inasmuch as your own lord, that better god, loved it so well,(9) and for your sake was at the pains(10) of descending from the third heaven to these poverty-stricken(11) elements, and for the same reason was actually crucified in this sorry(12) apartment of the Creator. Indeed, up to the present time, he has not disdained the water which the Creator made wherewith he washes his people; nor the oil with which he anoints them; nor that union of honey and milk wherewithal he gives them the nourishment(13) of children; nor the bread by which he represents his own proper body, thus requiring in his very sacraments the “beggarly(14) elements” of the Creator. You, however, are a disciple above his master, and a servant above his lord; you have a higher reach of discernment than his; you destroy what he requires. I wish to examine whether you are at least honest in this, so as to have no longing for those things which you destroy. You are an enemy to the sky, and yet you are glad to catch its freshness in your houses. You disparage the earth, although the elemental parent(15) of your own flesh, as if it were your undoubted enemy, and yet you extract from it all its fatness(16) for your food. The sea, too, you reprobate, but are continually using its produce, which you account the more sacred diet.(17) If I should offer you a rose, you will not disdain its Maker. You hypocrite, however much of abstinence you use to show yourself a Marcionite, that is, a repudiator of your Maker (for if the world displeased you, such abstinence ought to have been affected by you as a martyrdom), you will have to associate yourself with(18) the Creator’s material production, into what element soever you shall be dissolved. How hard is this obstinacy of yours! You vilify the things in which you both live and die.
CHAP. XV.–THE LATENESS OF THE REVELATION OF MARCION’S GOD. THE QUESTION OF THE PLACE OCCUPIED BY THE RIVAL DEITIES. INSTEAD OF TWO GODS, MARCION REALLY (ALTHOUGH, AS IT WOULD SEEM, UNCONSCIOUSLY) HAD NINE GODS IN HIS SYSTEM.
After all, or, if you like,(19) before all, since you have said that he has a creation(20) of his own, and his own world, and his own sky; we shall see,(21) indeed, about that third heaven, when we come to discuss even your own apos-
tle.(1) Meanwhile, whatever is the (created) substance, it ought at any rate to have made its appearance in company with its own god. But now, how happens it that the Lord has been revealed since the twelfth year of Tiberius Caesar, while no creation of His at all has been discovered up to the fifteenth of the Emperor Severus;(2) although, as being more excellent than the paltry works(3) of the Creator, it should certainly have ceased to conceal itself, when its lord and author no longer lies hid? I ask, therefore,(4) if it was unable to manifest itself in this world, how did its Lord appear in this world? If this world received its Lord, why was it not able to receive the created substance, unless perchance it was greater than its Lord? But now there arises a question about place, having reference both to the world above and to the God thereof. For, behold, if he(5) has his own world beneath him, above the Creator, he has certainly fixed it in a position, the space of which was empty between his own feet and the Creator’s head. Therefore God both Himself occupied local space, and caused the world to occupy local space; and this local space, too, will be greater than God and the world together. For in no case is that which contains not greater than that which is contained. And indeed we must look well to it that no small patches(6) be left here and there vacant, in which some third god also may be able with a world of his own to foist himself in.(7) Now, begin to reckon up your gods. There will be local space for a god, not only as being greater than God, but as being also unbegotten and unmade, and therefore eternal, and equal to God, in which God has ever been. Then, inasmuch as He too has fabricated(8) a world out of some underlying material which is unbegotten, and unmade, and contemporaneous with God, just as Marcion holds of the Creator, you reduce this likewise to the dignity of that local space which has enclosed two gods, both God and matter. For matter also is a god according to the rule of Deity, being (to be sure) unbegotten, and unmade, and eternal. If, however, it was out of nothing that he made his world, this also (our heretic) will be obliged to predicate(9) of the Creator, to whom he subordinates(10) matter in the substance of the world. But it will be only right that he(11) too should have made his world out of matter, because the same process occurred to him as God which lay before the Creator as equally God. And thus you may, if you please, reckon up so far,(13) three gods as Marcion’s,–the Maker, local space, and matter. Furthermore,(13) he in like manner makes the Creator a god in local space, which is itself to be appraised on a precisely identical scale of dignity; and to Him as its lord he subordinates matter, which is notwithstanding unbegotten, and unmade, and by reason hereof eternal. With this matter he further associates evil, an unbegotten principle with an unbegotten object, an unmade with an unmade, and an eternal with an eternal; so here he makes a fourth God. Accordingly you have three substances of Deity in the higher instances, and in the lower ones four. When to these are added their Christs–the one which appeared in the time of Tiberius, the other which is promised by the Creator–Marcion suffers a manifest wrong from those persons who assume that he holds two gods, whereas he implies(14) no less than nine.(15) though he knows it not.
CHAP. XVI.–MARCION ASSUMES THE EXISTENCE OF TWO GODS FROM THE ANTITHESIS BETWEEN THINGS VISIBLE AND THINGS INVISIBLE. THIS ANTITHETICAL PRINCIPLE IN FACT CHARACTERISTIC OF THE WORKS OF THE CREATOR, THE ONE GOD–MAKER OF ALL THINGS VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE.
Since, then, that other world does not appear, nor its god either, the only resource left (16) to them is to divide things into the two classes of visible and invisible, with two gods for their authors, and so to claim(17) the invisible for their own, (the supreme) God. But who, except an heretical spirit, could ever bring his mind to believe that the invisible part of creation belongs to him who had previously displayed no visible thing, rather than to Him who, by His operation on the visible world, produced a belief in the invisible also, since it is far more
reasonable to give one’s assent after some samples (of a work) than after none? We shall see to what author even (your favourite) apostle attributes(1) the invisible creation, when we come to examine him. At present (we withhold his testimony), for(2) we are for the most part engaged in preparing the way, by means of common sense and fair arguments, for a belief in the future support of the Scriptures also. We affirm, then, that this diversity of things visible and invisible must on this ground be attributed to the Creator, even because the whole of His work consists of diversities–of things corporeal and incorporeal; of animate and inanimate; of vocal and mute of moveable and stationary; of productive and sterile; of arid and moist; of hot and cold. Man, too, is himself similarly tempered with diversity, both in his body and in his sensation. Some of his members are strong, others weak; some comely, others uncomely; some twofold, others unique; some like, others unlike. In like manner there is diversity also in his sensation: now joy, then anxiety; now love, then hatred; now anger, then calmness. Since this is the case, inasmuch as the whole of this creation of ours has been fashioned(3) with a reciprocal rivalry amongst its several parts, the invisible ones are due to the visible, and not to be ascribed to any other author than Him to whom their counterparts are imputed, marking as they do diversity in the Creator Himself, who orders what He forbade, and forbids what He ordered; who also strikes and heals. Why do they take Him to be uniform in one class of things alone, as the Creator of visible things, and only them; whereas He ought to be believed to have created both the visible and the invisible, in just the same way as life and death, or as evil things and peace?(4) And verily, if the invisible creatures are greater than the visible, which are in their own sphere great, so also is it fitting that the greater should be His to whom the great belong; because neither the great, nor indeed the greater, can be suitable property for one who seems to possess not even the smallest things.
CHAP. XVII.–NOT ENOUGH, AS THE MARCIONITES PRETEND, THAT THE SUPREME GOD SHOULD RESCUE MAN; HE MUST ALSO HAVE CREATED HIM. THE EXISTENCE OF GOD PROVED BY HIS CREATION, A PRIOR CONSIDERATION TO HIS CHARACTER.
Pressed by these arguments, they exclaim: One work is sufficient for our god; he has delivered man by his supreme and most excellent goodness, which is preferable to (the creation of) all the locusts.(5) What superior god is this, of whom it has not been possible to find any work so great as the man of the lesser god! Now without doubt the first thing you have to do is to prove that he exists, after the same manner that the existence of God must ordinarily be proved–by his works; and only after that by his good deeds. For the first question is, Whether he exists? and then, What is his character? The former is to be tested(6) by his works, the other by the beneficence of them. It does not simply follow that he exists, because he is said to have wrought deliverance for man; but only after it shall have been settled that he exists, will there be room for saying that he has affected this liberation. And even this point also must have its own evidence, because it may be quite possible both that he has existence, and yet has not wrought the alleged deliverance. Now in that section of our work which concerned the question of the unknown god, two points were made clear enough–both that he had created nothing: and that he ought to have been a creator, in order to be known by his works; because, if he had existed, he ought to have been known, and that too from the beginning of things; for it was not fit that God should have lain hid. It will be necessary that I should revert to the very trunk of that question of the unknown god, that I may strike off into some of its other branches also. For it will be first of all proper to inquire, Why he, who afterwards brought himself into notice, did so–so late, and not at the very first? From creatures, with which as God he was indeed so closely connected (and the closer this connection was,(7) the greater was his goodness), he ought never to have been hidden. For it cannot be pretended that there was not either any means of arriving at the knowledge of God, or a good reason for it, when from the beginning man was in the world, for whom the deliverance is now come; as was also that malevolence of the Creator, in opposition to which the good God has wrought the deliverance. He was therefore either ignorant of the good reason for and means of his own necessary manifestation, or doubted them; or else was either unable or unwilling to encounter them. All these alternatives are unworthy of God, especially the supreme
and best. This topic,(1) however, we shall afterwards(2) more fully treat, with a condemnation of the tardy manifestation; we at present simply point it out.
CHAP. XVIII.–NOTWITHSTANDING THEIR CONCEITS, THE GOD OF THE MARCIONITES FAILS IN THE VOUCHERS BOTH OF CREATED EVIDENCE AND OF ADEQUATE REVELATION.
Well, then,(3) he has now advanced into notice, just when he willed, when he could, when the destined hour arrived. For perhaps he was hindered hitherto by his leading star,(4) or some weird malignants, or Saturn in quadrature,(5) or Mars at the trine.(6) The Marcionites are very strongly addicted to astrology; nor do they blush to get their livelihood by help of the very stars which were made by the Creator (whom they depreciate). We must here also treat of the quality(7) of the (new) revelation; whether Marcion’s supreme god has become known in a way worthy of him, so as to secure the proof of his existence: and in the way of truth, so that he may be believed to be the very being who had been already proved to have been revealed in a manner worthy of his character. For things which are worthy of God will prove the existence of God. We maintain(8) that God must first be known(9) from nature, and afterwards authenticated(10) by instruction: from nature by His works; by instruction,(11) through His revealed announcements.(12) Now, in a case where nature is excluded, no natural means (of knowledge) are furnished. He ought, therefore, to have carefully supplied(13) a revelation of himself, even by announcements, especially as he had to be revealed in opposition to One who, after so many and so great works, both of creation and revealed announcement, had with difficulty succeeded in satisfying(14) men’s faith. In what manner, therefore, has the revelation been made? If by man’s conjectural guesses, do not say that God can possibly become known in any other way than by Himself, and appeal not only to the standard of the Creator, but to the conditions both of God’s greatness and man’s littleness; so that man seem not by any possibility to be greater than God, by having somehow drawn Him out into public recognition, when He was Himself unwilling to become known by His own energies, although man’s littleness has been able, according to experiments all over the world, more easily to fashion for itself gods, than to follow the true God whom men now understand by nature. As for the rest,(15) if man shall be thus able to devise a god,–as Romulus did Consus, and Tatius Cloacina, and Hostilius Fear, and Metellus Alburnus, and a certain authority(16) some time since Antinous,–the same accomplishment may be allowed to others. As for us, we have found our pilot in Marcion, although not a king nor an emperor.
CHAP.XIX.–JESUS CHRIST, THE REVEALER OF THE CREATOR, COULD NOT BE THE SAME AS MARCION’S GOD, WHO WAS ONLY MADE KNOWN BY THE HERETIC SOME CXV. YEARS AFTER CHRIST, AND THAT, TOO, ON A PRINCIPLE UTTERLY UNSUITED TO THE TEACHING OF JESUS CHRIST, I.E., THE OPPOSITION BETWEEN THE LAW AND THE GOSPELS.
Well, but our god, say the Marcionites, although he did not manifest himself from the beginning and by means of the creation, has yet revealed himself in Christ Jesus. A book will be devoted(17) to Christ, treating of His entire state; for it is desirable that these subject-matters should be distinguished one from another, in order that they may receive a fuller and more methodical treatment. Meanwhile it will be sufficient if, at this stage of the question, I show–and that but briefly–that Christ Jesus is the revealer(18) of none other god but the Creator. In the fifteenth year of Tiberius,(19) Christ Jesus vouchsafed to come down from heaven, as the spirit of saving health.(20) I cared not to inquire, indeed, in what particular year of the elder Antoninus. He who had so gracious a purpose did rather, like a pestilential sirocco,(21) exhale this health or salvation, which Marcion teaches from his Pontus. Of this teacher there is no doubt that he is a heretic of the Antonine period, impious under the pious. Now, from Tiberius to Antoninus Pius, there are about 115 years and 6 1/2 months. Just such an interval do they place between Christ and Marcion. Inasmuch, then, as Marcion, as we have shown,
first introduced this god to notice in the time of Antoninus, the matter becomes at once clear, if you are a shrewd observer. The dates already decide the case, that he who came to light for the first time(1) in the reign of Antoninus, did not appear in that of Tiberius; in other words, that the God of the Antonine period was not the God of the Tiberian; and consequently, that he whom Marcion has plainly preached for the first time, was not revealed by Christ (who announced His revelation as early as the reign of Tiberius). Now, to prove clearly what remains of the argument, I shall draw materials from my very adversaries. Marcion’s special and principal work is the separation of the law and the gospel; and his disciples will not deny that in this point they have their very best pretext for initiating and confirming themselves in his heresy. These are Marcion’s Antitheses, or contradictory propositions, which aim at committing the gospel to a variance with the law, in order that from the diversity of the two documents which contain them,(2) they may contend for a diversity of gods also. Since, therefore, it is this very opposition between the law and the gospel which has suggested that the God of the gospel is different from the God of the law, it is clear that, before the said separation, that god could not have been known who became known(3) from the argument of the separation itself. He therefore could not have been revealed by Christ, who came before the separation, but must have been devised by Marcion, the author of the breach of peace between the gospel and the law. Now this peace, which had remained unhurt and unshaken from Christ’s appearance to the time of Marcion’s audacious doctrine, was no doubt maintained by that way of thinking, which firmly held that the God of both law and gospel was none other than the Creator, against whom after so long a time a separation has been introduced by the heretic of Pontus.
CHAP.XX.–MARCION, JUSTIFYING HIS ANTITHESIS BETWEEN THE LAW AND THE GOSPEL BY THE CONTENTION OF ST. PAUL WITH ST. PETER, SHOWN TO HAVE MISTAKEN ST. PAUL’S POSITION AND ARGUMENT. MARCION’S DOCTRINE CONFUTED OUT OF ST. PAUL’S TEACHING, WHICH AGREES WHOLLY WITH THE CREATOR’S DECREES.
This most patent conclusion requires to be defended by us against the clamours of the opposite side. For they allege that Marcion did not so much innovate on the rule (of faith) by his separation of the law and the gospel, as restore it after it had been previously adulterated. O Christ,(4) most enduring Lord, who didst bear so many years with this interference with Thy revelation, until Marcion forsooth came to Thy rescue! Now they adduce the case of Peter himself, and the others, who were pillars of the apostolate, as having been blamed by Paul for not walking uprightly, according to the truth of the gospel–that very Paul indeed, who, being yet in the mere rudiments of grace, and trembling, in short, lest he should have run or were still running in vain, then for the first time held intercourse with those who were apostles before himself. Therefore because, in the eagerness of his zeal against Judaism as a neophyte, he thought that there was something to be blamed in their conduct–even the promiscuousness of their conversation(5)–but afterwards was himself to become in his practice all things to all men, that he might gain all,–to the Jews, as a Jew, and to them that were under the law, as under the law,–you would have his censure, which was merely directed against conduct destined to become acceptable even to their accuser, suspected of prevarication against God on a point of public doctrine.(6) Touching their public doctrine, however, they had, as we have already said, joined hands in perfect concord, and had agreed also in the division of their labour in their fellowship of the gospel, as they had indeed in all other respects:(7) “Whether it were I or they, so we preach.”(8) When, again, he mentioned “certain false brethren as having crept in unawares,” who wished to remove the Galatians into another gospel,(9) he himself shows that that adulteration of the gospel was not meant to transfer them to the faith of another god and christ, but rather to perpetuate the teaching of the law; because he blames them for maintaining circumcision, and observing times, and days, and months, and years, according to those Jewish ceremonies which they ought to have known were now abrogated, according to the new dispensation purposed by the Creator Himself, who of old foretold this very thing by His prophets. Thus He says by Isaiah: Old things have passed away. “Behold, I will do a new thing.”(10) And in another passage: “I will make a new covenant, not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, when I brought them out of the land of
Egypt.”(1) In like manner by Jeremiah: Make to yourselves a new covenant, “circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart.”(2) It is this circumcision, therefore, and this renewal, which the apostle insisted on, when he forbade those ancient ceremonies concerning which their very founder announced that they were one day to cease; thus by Hosea: “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast-days, her new moons, and her Sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.”(3) So likewise by Isaiah: “The new moons, and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; your holy days, and fasts, and feast-days, my soul hateth.”(4) Now, if even the Creator had so long before discarded all these things, and the apostle was now proclaiming them to be worthy of renunciation, the very agreement of the apostle’s meaning with the decrees of the Creator proves that none other God was preached by the apostle than He whose purposes he now wished to have recognised, branding as false both apostles and brethren, for the express reason that they were pushing back the gospel of Christ the Creator from the new condition which the Creator had foretold, to the old one which He had discarded.
CHAP. XXI.–ST. PAUL PREACHED NO NEW GOD, WHEN HE ANNOUNCED THE REPEAL OF SOME OE GOD’S ANCIENT ORDINANCES. NEVER ANY HESITATION ABOUT BELIEF IN THE CREATOR, AS THE GOD WHOM CHRIST REVEALED, UNTIL MARCION’S HERESY.
Now if it was with the view of preaching a new god that he was eager to abrogate the law of the old God, how is it that he prescribes no rule about(5) the new god, but solely about the old law, if it be not because faith in the Creator(6) was still to continue, and His law alone was to come to an end?(7)–just as the Psalmist had declared: “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against His Anointed.”(8) And, indeed, if another god were preached by Paul, there could be no doubt about the law, whether it were to be kept or not, because of course it would not belong to the new lord, the enemy(9) of the law. The very newness and difference of the god would take away not only all question about the old and alien law, but even all mention of it. But the whole question, as it then stood, was this, that although the God of the law was the same as was preached in Christ, yet there was a disparagement(10) of His law. Permanent still, therefore, stood faith in the Creator and in His Christ; manner of life and discipline alone fluctuated.(11) Some disputed about eating idol sacrifices, others about the veiled dress of women, others again about marriage and divorce, and some even about the hope of the resurrection; but about God no one disputed. Now, if this question also had entered into dispute, surely it would be found in the apostle, and that too as a great and vital point. No doubt, after the time of the apostles, the truth respecting the belief of God suffered corruption, but it is equally certain that during the life of the apostles their teaching on this great article did not suffer at all; so that no other teaching will have the fight of being received as apostolic than that which is at the present day proclaimed in the churches of apostolic foundation. You will, however, find no church of apostolic origin(12) but such as reposes its Christian faith in the Creator.(13) But if the churches shall prove to have been corrupt from the beginning, where shall the pure ones be found? Will it be amongst the adversaries of the Creator? Show us, then, one of your churches, tracing its descent from an apostle, and you will have gained the day.(14) Forasmuch then as it is on all accounts evident that there was from Christ down to Marcion’s time no other God in the rule of sacred truth’s than the Creator, the proof of our argument is sufficiently established, in which we have shown that the god of our heretic first became known by his separation of the gospel and the law. Our previous position(16) is accordingly made good, that no god is to be believed whom any man has devised out of his own conceits; except indeed the man be a prophet,(17) and then his own conceits would not be concerned in the matter. If Marcion, however, shall be able to lay claim to this inspired character, it will be necessary for it to be shown. There must be no doubt or paltering.(18) For all heresy is thrust out by this wedge of the truth, that Christ is proved to be the revealer of no God else but the Creator.(19)
CHAP. XXII.–GOD’S ATTRIBUTE OF GOODNESS CONSIDERED AS NATURAL; THE GOD OF MARCION FOUND WANTING HEREIN. IT CAME NOT TO MAN’S RESCUE WHEN FIRST WANTED.
But how shall (this) Antichrist be fully overthrown unless we relax our defence by mere prescription,(1) and give ourselves scope for rebutting all his other attacks? Let us therefore next take the very person of God Himself, or rather His shadow or phantom,(2) as we have it in Christ, and let Him be examined by that condition which makes Him superior to the Creator. And undoubtedly there will come to hand unmistakeable rules for examining God’s goodness. My first point, however, iS to discover and apprehend the attribute, and then to draw it out into rules. Now, when I survey the subject in its aspects of time, I nowhere descry it(3) from the beginning of material existences, or at the commencement of those causes, with which it ought to have been found, proceeding thence to do(4) whatever had to be done. For there was death already, and Sin the sting of death, and that malignity too of the Creator, against which the goodness of the other god should have been ready to bring relief; falling in with this as the primary rule of the divine goodness (if it were to prove itself a natural agency), at once coming as a succour when the cause for it began. For in God all things should be natural and inbred, just like His own condition indeed, in order that they may be eternal, and so not be accounted casual(5) and extraneous, and thereby temporary and wanting in eternity. In God, therefore, goodness is required to be both perpetual and unbroken,(6) such as, being stored up and kept ready in the treasures of His natural properties, might precede its own causes and material developments; and if thus preceding, might underlie(7) every first material cause, instead of looking at it from a distance,(8) and standing aloof from it.(9) In short, here too I must inquire, Why his(10) goodness did not operate from the beginning? no less pointedly than when we inquired concerning himself, Why he was not revealed from the very first? Why, then, did it not? since he had to be revealed by his goodness
if he had any existence. That God should at all fail in power must not be thought, much less that He should not discharge all His natural functions; for if these were restrained from running their course, they would cease to be natural. Moreover, the .nature of God Him self knows nothing of inactivity. Hence (His goodness) is reckoned as having a beginning,(11) if it acts. It will thus be evident that He had no unwillingness to exercise His goodness at any time on account of His nature. Indeed, it is impossible that He should be unwilling because of His nature, since that so directs itself that it would no longer exist if it ceased to act. In Marcion’s god, however, goodness ceased from operation at some time or other. A goodness, therefore, which could thus at any time have ceased its action was not natural, because with natural properties such cessation is incompatible. And if it shall not prove to be natural, it must no longer be believed to be eternal nor competent to Deity; because it cannot be eternal so long as, failing to be natural, it neither provides from the past nor guarantees for the future any means of perpetuating itself. Now as a fact it existed not from the beginning, and, doubtless, will not endure to the end. For it is possible for it to fail in existence some future(12) time or other, as it has failed in some past(13) period. Forasmuch, then, as the goodness of Marcion’s god failed in the beginning (for he did not from the first deliver man), this failure must have been the effect of will rather than of infirmity. Now a wilful suppression of goodness will be found to have a malignant end in view. For what malignity is so great as to be unwilling to do good when one can, or to thwart(14) what is useful, or to permit injury? The whole description, therefore, of Marcion’s Creator will have to be transferred(15) to his new god, who helped on the ruthless(16) proceedings of the former by the retardation of his own goodness. For whosoever has it in his power to prevent the happening of a thing, is accounted responsible for it if it should occur. Man is condemned to death for tasting the fruit of one poor tree,(17) and thence proceed sins with their penalties; and now all are perishing who yet never saw a single sod of Paradise. And all this your better god either is ignorant of, or else brooks. Is it that(18) he might on this account be deemed the better, and the Creator be re-
garded as all that the worse? Even if this were his purpose he would be malicious enough, for both wishing to aggravate his rival’s obloquy by permitting His (evil) works to be done, and by keeping the world harrassed by the wrong. What would you think of a physician who should encourage a disease by withholding the remedy, and prolong the danger by delaying his prescription, in order that his cure might be more costly and more renowned? Such must be the sentence to be pronounced against Marcion’s god: tolerant of evil, encouraging wrong, wheedling about his grace, prevaricating in his goodness, which he did not exhibit simply on its own account, but which he must mean to exhibit purely, if he is good by nature and not by acquisition,(1) if he is supremely good in attribute(2) and not by discipline, if he is God from eternity and not from Tiberius, nay (to speak more truly), from Cerdon only and Marcion. As the case now stands,(3) however, such a god as we are considering would have been more fit for Tiberius, that the goodness of the Divine Being might be inaugurated in the world under his imperial sway!
CHAP. XXIII.–GOD’S ATTRIBUTE OF GOODNESS CONSIDERED AS RATIONAL. MARCION’S GOD DEFECTIVE HERE ALSO; HIS GOODNESS IRRATIONAL AND MISAPPLIED.
Here is another rule for him. All the properties of God ought to be as rational as they are natural. I require reason in His goodness, because nothing else can properly be accounted good than that which is rationally good; much less can goodness itself be detected in any irrationality. More easily will an evil thing which has something rational belonging to it be accounted good, than that a good thing bereft of all reasonable quality should escape being regarded as evil. Now I deny that the goodness of Marcion’s god is rational, on this account first, because it proceeded to the salvation of a human creature which was alien to him. I am aware of the plea which they will adduce, that that is rather (4) a primary and perfect goodness which is shed voluntarily and freely upon strangers without any obligation of friendship,(5) on the principle that we are bidden to love even our enemies, such as are also on that very account strangers to us. Now, inasmuch as from the first he had no regard for man, a stranger to him from the first, he settled beforehand, by this neglect of his, that he had nothing to do with an
alien creature. Besides, the rule of loving a stranger or enemy is preceded by the precept of your loving your neighbour as yourself; and this precept, although coming from the Creator’s law, even you ought to receive, because, so far from being abrogated by Christ, it has rather been confirmed by Him. For you are bidden to love your enemy and the stranger, in order that you may love your neighbour the better. The requirement of the undue is an augmentation of the due benevolence. But the due precedes the undue, as the principal quality, and more worthy of the other, for its attendant and companion.(6) Since, therefore, the first step in the reasonableness of the divine goodness is that it displays itself on its proper object(7) in righteousness, and only at its second stage on an alien object by a redundant righteousness over and above that of scribes and Pharisees, how comes it to pass that the second is attributed to him who fails in the first, not having man for his proper object, and who makes his goodness on this very account defective? Moreover, how could a defective benevolence, which had no proper object whereon to expend itself, overflow(8) on an alien one? Clear up the first step, and then vindicate the next. Nothing can be claimed as rational without order, much less can reason itself(9) dispense with order in any one. Suppose now the divine goodness begin at the second stage of its rational operation, that is to say, on the stranger, this second stage will not be consistent in rationality if it be impaired in any way else.(10) For only then will even the second stage of goodness, that which is displayed towards the stranger, be accounted rational, when it operates without wrong to him who has the first claim.(11) It is righteousness (12) which before everything else makes all goodness rational. It will thus be rational in its principal stage, when manifested on its proper object, if it be righteous. And thus, in like manner, it will be able to appear rational, when displayed towards the stranger, if it be not unrighteous. But what sort of goodness is that which is manifested in wrong, and that
in behalf of an alien creature? For peradventure a benevolence, even when operating injuriously, might be deemed to some extent rational, if exerted for one of our own house and home.(1) By what rule, however, can an unjust benevolence, displayed on behalf of a stranger, to whom not even an honest one is legitimately due, be defended as a rational one? For what is more unrighteous, more unjust, more dishonest, than so to benefit an alien slave as to take him away from his master, claim him as the property of another, and suborn him against his master’s life; and all this, to make the matter more iniquitous still whilst he is yet living in his master’s house and on his master’s garner, and still trembling beneath his stripes? Such a deliverer,(2) I had almost said(3) kidnapper,(4) would even meet with condemnation in the world. Now, no other than this is the character of Marcion’s god, swooping upon an alien world, snatching away man from his God,(5) the son from his father, the pupil from his tutor, the servant from his master–to make him impious to his God, undutiful to his father, ungrateful to his tutor, worthless to his master. If, now, the rational benevolence makes man such, what sort of being prithee(6) would the irrational make of him? None I should think more shameless than him who is baptized to his(7) god in water which belongs to another, who stretches out his hands(8) to his god towards a heaven which is another’s, who kneels to his god on ground which is another’s, offers his thanksgivings to his god over bread which belongs to another,(9) and distributes(10) by way of alms and charity, for the sake of his god, gifts which belong to another God. Who, then, is that so good a god of theirs, that man through him becomes evil; so propitious, too, as to incense against man that other God who is, indeed, his own proper Lord?
CHAP. XXIV.–THE GOODNESS OF MARCION’S GOD ONLY IMPERFECTLY MANIFESTED; IT SAVES BUT FEW, AND THE SOULS MERELY OF THESE. MARCION’S CONTEMPT OF THE BODY ABSURD.
But as God is eternal and rational, so, I think, He is perfect in all things. “Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”(11) Prove, then, that the goodness of your god also is a perfect one. That it is indeed imperfect has been already sufficiently shown, since it is found to be neither natural nor rational. The same conclusion, however, shall now be made clear(12) by another method; it is not simply(13) imperfect, but actually(14) feeble, weak, and exhausted, failing to embrace the full number(15) of its material objects, and not manifesting itself in them all. For all are not put into a state of salvation(16) by it; but the Creator’s subjects, both Jew and Christian, are all excepted.(17) Now, when the greater part thus perish, how can that goodness be defended as a perfect one which is inoperative in most cases, is somewhat only in few, naught in many, succumbs to perdition, and is a partner with destruction?(18) And if so many shall miss salvation, it will not be with goodness, but with malignity, that the greater perfection will lie. For as it is the operation of goodness which brings salvation, so is it malevolence which thwarts it.(19) Since, however, this goodness) saves but few, and so rather leans to the alternative of not saving, it will show itself to greater perfection by not interposing help than by helping. Now, you will not be able to attribute goodness (to your god) in reference to the Creator, (if accompanied with) failure towards all. For whomsoever you call in to judge the question, it is as a dispenser of goodness, if so be such a title can be made out,(20) and not as a squanderer thereof, as you claim your god to be, that you must submit the divine character for determination. So long, then, as you prefer your god to the Creator on the simple ground of his goodness, and since he professes to have this attribute as solely and wholly his own, he ought not to have been wanting in it to any one. However, I do not now wish to prove that Marcion’s god is imperfect in goodness because of the perdition of the greater number. I am content to illustrate
this imperfection by the fact that even those whom he saves are found to possess but an imperfect salvation–that is, they are saved only so far as the soul is concerned,(1) but lost in their body, which, according to him, does not rise again. Now, whence comes this halving of salvation, if not from a failure of goodness? What could have been a better proof of a perfect goodness, than the recovery of the whole man to salvation? Totally damned by the Creator, he should have been totally restored by the most merciful god. I rather think that by Marcion’s rule the body is baptized, is deprived of marriage,(2) is cruelly tortured in confession. But although sins are attributed to the body, yet they are preceded by the guilty concupiscence of the soul; nay, the first motion of sin must be ascribed to the soul, to which the flesh acts in the capacity of a servant. By and by, when freed from the soul, the flesh sins no more.(3) So that in this matter goodness is unjust, and likewise imperfect, in that it leaves to destruction the more harmless substance, which sins rather by compliance than in will. Now, although Christ put not on the verity of the flesh, as your heresy is pleased to assume, He still vouchsafed to take upon Him the semblance thereof. Surely, therefore, some regard was due to it from Him, because of this His reigned assumption of it. Besides, what else is man than flesh, since no doubt it was the corporeal rather than the spiritual(4) element from which the Author of man’s nature gave him his designation?(5) “And the LORD God made man of the dust of the ground,” not of spiritual essence; this afterwards came from the divine afflatus: “and man became a living soul.” What, then, is man? Made, no doubt of it, of the dust; and God placed him in paradise, because He moulded him, not breathed him, into being–a fabric of flesh, not of spirit. Now, this being the case, with what face will you contend for the perfect character of that goodness which did not fail in some one particular only of man’s deliverance, but in its general capacity? If that is a plenary grace and a substantial mercy which brings salvation to the soul alone, this were the better life which we now enjoy whole and entire; whereas to rise again but in part will be a chastisement, not a liberation. The proof of the perfect goodness is, that man, after his rescue, should be delivered from the domicile and power of the malignant deity unto the protection of the most good and merciful God. Poor dupe of Marcion, fever(6) is hard upon you; and your painful flesh produces a crop of all sorts of briers and thorns. Nor is it only to the Creator’s thunderbolts that you lie exposed, or to wars, and pestilences, and His other heavier strokes, but even to His creeping insects. In what respect do you suppose yourself liberated from His kingdom when His flies are still creeping upon your face? If your deliverance lies in the future, why not also in the present, that it may be perfectly wrought? Far different is our condition in the sight of Him who is the Author, the Judge, the injured(7) Head of our race! You display Him as a merely good God; but you are unable to prove that He is perfectly good, because you are not by Him perfectly delivered.
CHAP. XXV.–GOD IS NOT A BEING OF SIMPLE GOODNESS; OTHER ATTRIBUTES BELONG TO HIM. MARCION SHOWS INCONSISTENCY IN THE PORTRAITURE OF HIS SIMPLY GOOD AND EMOTIONLESS GOD.
As touching this question of goodness, we have in these outlines of our argument shown it to be in no way compatible with Deity,–as being neither natural,(8) nor rational, nor perfect, but wrong,(9) and unjust, and unworthy of the very name of goodness,–because, as far as the congruity of the divine character is concerned, it cannot indeed be fitting that that Being should be regarded as God who is alleged to have such a goodness, and that not in a modified way, but simply and solely. For it is, furthermore, at this point quite open to discussion, whether God ought to be regarded as a Being of simple goodness, to the exclusion of all those other attributes,(10) sensations, and affections, which the Marcionites indeed transfer from their god to the Creator, and which we acknowledge to be worthy characteristics of the Creator too, but only because we consider Him to be God. Well, then, on this ground we shall deny him to be God in whom all things are not to be found which befit the Divine Being. If (Marcion) chose(11) to take any one of the school of Epicurus, and entitle him God in the name of Christ, on the ground
that what is happy and incorruptible can bring no trouble either on itself or anything else (for Marcion, while poring over(1) this opinion of the divine indifference, has removed from him all the severity and energy of the judicial(2) character), it was his duty to have developed his conceptions into some imperturbable and listless god (and then what could he have had in common with Christ, who occasioned trouble both to the Jews by what He taught, and to Himself by what He felt?), or else to have admitted that he was possessed of the same emotions as others(3) (and in such case what would he have had to do with Epicurus, who was no friend(4) to either him or Christians?). For that a being who in ages past(5) was in a quiescent state, not caring to communicate any knowledge of himself by any work all the while, should come after so long a time to entertain a concern for man’s salvation, of course by his own will,–did he not by this very fact become susceptible of the impulse(6) of a new volition, so as palpably to be open to all other emotions? But what volition is unaccompanied with the spur of desire?(7) Who wishes for what he desires not? Moreover, care will be another companion of the will. For who will wish for any object and desire to have it, without also caring to obtain it? When, therefore, (Marcion’s god) felt both a will and a desire for man’s salvation, he certainly occasioned some concern and trouble both to himself and others. This Marcion’s theory suggests, though Epicurus demurs. For he(8) raised up an adversary against himself in that very thing against which his will and desire, and care were directed,–whether it were sin or death,–and more especially in their Tyrant and Lord, the Creator of man. Again,(9) nothing will ever run its course without hostile rivalry,(10) which shall not (itself) be without a hostile aspect. In fact,(11) when willing, desiring, and caring to deliver man, (Marcion’s god) already in the very act encounters a rival, both in Him from whom He effects the deliverance (for of course(12) he means the liberation to be an opposition to Him), and also in those things from which the deliverance is wrought (the intended liberation being to the advantage of some other things). For it must needs be, that upon rivalry its own
ancillary passions(13) will be in attendance, against whatever objects its emulation is directed: anger, discord, hatred, disdain, indignation, spleen, loathing, displeasure. Now, since all these emotions are present to rivalry; since, moreover, the rivalry which arises in liberating man excites them; and since, again, this deliverance of man is an operation of goodness, it follows that this goodness avails nothing without its endowments,(14) that is to say, without those sensations and affections whereby it carries out its purpose(15) against the Creator; so that it cannot even in this be ruled(16) to be irrational, as if it were wanting in proper sensations and affections. These points we shall have to insist on(17) much more fully, when we come to plead the cause of the Creator, where they will also incur our condemnation.
CHAP. XXVI.–IN THE ATTRIBUTE OF JUSTICE, MARCION’S GOD IS HOPELESSLY WEAK AND UNGODLIKE. HE DISLIKES EVIL, BUT DOES NOT PUNISH ITS PERPETRATION.
But it is here sufficient that the extreme perversity of their god is proved from the mere exposition of his lonely goodness, in which they refuse to ascribe to him such emotions of mind as they censure in the Creator. Now, if he is susceptible of no feeling of rivalry, or anger, or damage, or injury, as one who refrains from exercising judicial power, I cannot tell how any system of discipline–and that, too, a plenary one–can be consistent in him. For how is it possible that he should issue commands, if he does not mean to execute them; or forbid sins, if he intends not to punish them, but rather to decline the functions of the judge, as being a stranger to all notions of severity and judicial chastisement? For why does he forbid the commission of that which he punishes not when perpetrated? It would have been far more right, if he had not forbidden what he meant not to punish, than that he should punish what he had not forbidden. Nay, it was his duty even to have permitted what he was about to prohibit in so unreasonable a way, as to annex no penalty to the offence.(18) For even now that is tacitly permitted which is forbidden without any infliction of vengeance. Besides, he only forbids the commission of that which he does not like to have done. Most listless, therefore, is he, since he takes no offence at the doing of what he dislikes to be done, although dis-
pleasure ought to be the companion of his violated will. Now, if he is offended, he ought to be angry; if angry, he ought to inflict punishment. For such infliction is the just fruit of anger, and anger is the debt of displeasure, and displeasure (as I have said) is the companion of a violated will. However, he inflicts no punishment; therefore he takes no offence.
He takes no offence, therefore his will is not wronged, although that is done which he was unwilling to have done; and the transgression is now committed with the acquiescence of(1) his will, because whatever offends not the will is not committed against the will. Now, if this is to be the principle of the divine virtue or goodness, to be unwilling indeed that a thing be done and to prohibit it, and yet not be moved by its commission, we then allege that he has been moved already when he declared his unwillingness; and that it is vain for him not to be moved by the accomplishment of a thing after being moved at the possibility thereof, when he willed it not to be done. For he prohibited it by his not willing it. Did he not therefore do a judicial act, when he declared his unwillingness, and consequent prohibition of it? For he judged that it ought not to be done, and he deliberately declared(2) that it should be forbidden. Consequently by this time even he performs the part of a judge. If it is unbecoming for God to discharge a judicial function, or at least only so far becoming that He may merely declare His unwillingness, and pronounce His prohibition, then He may not even punish for an offence when it is committed. Now, nothing is so unworthy of the Divine Being as not to execute retribution on what He has disliked and forbidden. First, He owes the infliction of chastisement to whatever sentence or law He promulges, for the vindication of His authority and the maintenance of submission to it; secondly, because hostile opposition is inevitable to what He has disliked to be done, and by that dislike forbidden. Moreover, it would be a more unworthy course for God to spare the evil-doer than to punish him, especially in the most good and holy God, who is not otherwise fully good than as the enemy of evil, and that to such a degree as to display His love of good by the hatred of evil, and to fulfil His defence of the former by the extirpation of the latter.
CHAP. XXVII.–DANGEROUS EFFECTS TO RELIGION AND MORALITY OF THE DOCTRINE OF SO WEAK A GOD.
Again, he plainly judges evil by not willing
it, and condemns it by prohibiting it; while, on the other hand, he acquits it by not avenging it, and lets it go free by not punishing it. What a prevaricator of truth is such a god! What a dissembler with his own decision! Afraid to condemn what he really condemns, afraid to hate what he does not love, permitting that to be done which he does not allow, choosing to indicate what he dislikes rather than deeply examine it! This will turn out an imaginary goodness, a phantom of discipline, perfunctory in duty, careless in sin. Listen, ye sinners; and ye who have not yet come to this, hear, that you may attain to such a pass! A better god has been discovered, who never takes offence, is never angry, never inflicts punishment, who has prepared no fire in hell, no gnashing of teeth in the outer darkness! He is purely and simply good. He indeed forbids all delinquency, but only in word. He is in you, if you are willing to pay him homage,(3) for the sake of appearances, that you may seem to honour God; for your fear he does not want. And so satisfied are the Marcionites with such pretences, that they have no fear of their god at all. They say it is only a bad man who will be feared, a good man will be loved. Foolish man, do you say that he whom you call Lord ought not to be feared, whilst the very title you give him indicates a power which must itself be feared? But how are you going to love, without some fear that you do not love? Surely (such a god) is neither your Father, towards whom your love for duty’s sake should be consistent with fear because of His power; nor your proper(4) Lord, whom you should love for His humanity and fear as your teacher.(5) Kidnappers(6) indeed are loved after this fashion, but they are not feared. For power will not be feared, except it be just and regular, although it may possibly be loved even when corrupt: for it is by allurement that it stands, not by authority; by flattery, not by proper influence. And what can be more direct flattery than not to punish sins? Come, then, if you do not fear God as being good, why do you not boil over into every kind of lust, and so realize that which is, I believe, the main enjoyment of life to all who fear not God? Why do you not frequent the customary pleasures of the maddening circus, the bloodthirsty arena, and
the lascivious theatre?(1) Why in persecutions also do you not, when the censer is presented, at once redeem your life by the denial of your faith? God forbid, you say with redoubted(2) emphasis. So you do fear sin, and by your fear prove that He is an object of fear Who forbids the sin. This is quite a different matter from that obsequious homage you pay to the god whom you do not fear, which is identical in perversity indeed to is own conduct, in prohibiting a thing without annexing the sanction of punishment. Still more vainly do they act, who when asked, What is to become of every sinner in that great day? reply, that he is to be cast away out of sight. Is not even this a question of judicial determination? He is adjudged to deserve rejection, and that by a sentence of condemnation; unless the sinner is cast away forsooth for his salvation, that even a leniency like this may fall in consistently with the character of your most good and excellent god! And what will it be to be cast away, but to lose that which a man was in the way of obtaining, were it not for his rejection–that is, his salvation? Therefore his being cast away will involve the forfeiture of salvation; and this sentence cannot possibly be passed upon him, except by an angry and offended authority, who is also the punisher of sin–that is, by a judge.
CHAP. XXVIII.–THIS PERVERSE DOCTRINE DEPRIVES BAPTISM OF ALL ITS GRACE. IF MARCION BE RIGHT, THE SACRAMENT WOULD CONFER NO REMISSION OF SINS, NO REGENERATION, NO GIFT OF THE SPIRIT.
And what will happen to him after he is cast away? He will, they say, be thrown into the Creator’s fire. Then has no remedial provision been made (by their god) for the purpose of banishing those that sin against him, without resorting to the cruel measure of delivering them over to the Creator? And what will the Creator then do? I suppose He will prepare for them a hell doubly charged with brimstone,(3) as for blasphemers against Himself; except indeed their god in his zeal, as perhaps might happen, should show clemency to his rival’s revolted subjects. Oh, what a god is this! everywhere perverse; nowhere rational; in all cases vain; and therefore a nonentity!(4)–in whose state, and condition, and nature, and every appointment, I see no coherence and consistency; no, not even in the very sacrament of his faith! For what end does baptism serve, according to him? If the remission of sins, how will he make it evident that he remits sins, when he affords no evidence that he retains them? Because he would retain them, if he performed the functions of a judge. If deliverance from death, how could he deliver from death, who has not delivered to death? For he must have delivered the sinner to death, if he had from the beginning condemned sin. If the regeneration of man, how can he regenerate, who has never generated? For the repetition of an act is impossible to him, by whom nothing any time has been ever done. If the bestowal of the Holy Ghost, how will he bestow the Spirit, who did not at first impart the life? For the life is in a sense the supplement(5) of the Spirit. He therefore seals man, who had never been unsealed(6) in respect of him;(7) washes man, who had never been defiled so far as he was concerned;(7) and into this sacrament of salvation wholly plunges that flesh which is beyond the pale of salvation!(8) No farmer will irrigate ground that will yield him no fruit in return, except he be as stupid as Marcion’s god. Why then impose sanctity upon our most infirm and most unworthy flesh, either as a burden or as a glory? What shall I say, too, of the uselessness of a discipline which sanctifies what is already sanctified? Why burden the infirm, or glorify the unworthy? Why not remunerate with salvation what it burdens or else glorifies? Why keep back from a work its due reward, by not recompensing the flesh with salvation? Why even permit the honour of sanctity in it to die?
CHAP. XXIX.–MARCION FORBIDS MARRIAGE. TERTULLIAN ELOQUENTLY DEFENDS IT AS HOLY, AND CAREFULLY DISCRIMINATES BETWEEN MARCION’S DOCTRINE AND HIS OWN MONTANISM.
The flesh is not, according to Marcion, immersed in the water of the sacrament, unless it be(9) in virginity, widowhood, or celibacy, or has purchased by divorce a title to baptism, as if even generative impotents(10) did not all receive their flesh from nuptial union. Now, such a scheme as this must no doubt involve the proscription of marriage. Let us see, then, whether it be a just one: not as if we
aimed at destroying the happiness of sanctity, as do certain Nicolaitans in their maintenance of lust and luxury, but as those who have come to the knowledge of sanctity, and pursue it and prefer it, without detriment, however, to marriage; not as if we superseded a bad thing by a good, but only a good thing by a better. For we do not reject marriage, but simply refrain from it.(1) Nor do we prescribe sanctity(2) as the rule, but only recommend it, observing it as a good, yea, even the better state, if each man uses it carefully(3) according to his ability; but at the same time earnestly vindicating marriage, whenever hostile attacks are made against it is a polluted thing, to the disparagement of the Creator. For He bestowed His blessing on matrimony also, as on an honourable estate, for the increase of the human race; as He did indeed on the whole of His creation,(4) for wholesome and good uses. Meats and drinks are not on this account to be condemned, because, when served up with too exquisite a daintiness, they conduce to gluttony; nor is raiment to be blamed, because, when too costlily adorned, it becomes inflated with vanity and pride. So, on the same principle, the estate of matrimony is not to be refused, because, when enjoyed without moderation, it is fanned into a voluptuous flame. There is a great difference between a cause and a fault,(5) between a state and its excess. Consequently it is not an institution of this nature that is to be blamed, but the extravagant use of it; according to the judgment of its founder Himself, who not only said, “Be fruitful, and multiply,”(6) but also, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” and, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife;”(7) and who threatened with death the unchaste, sacrilegious, and monstrous abomination both of adultery and unnatural sin with man and beast.(8) Now, if any limitation is set to marrying–such as the spiritual rule,(9) which prescribes but one marriage under the Christian obedience,(10) maintained by the authority of the Paraclete,(11)–it will be His prerogative to fix the limit Who had once been diffuse in His permission; His to gather, Who once scattered; His to cut down the tree, Who planted it; His to reap the harvest, Who sowed the seed; His to declare, “It remaineth that they who have wives be as though they had none,”(12) Who once said, “Be fruitful, and multiply;” His the end to Whom belonged the beginning. Nevertheless, the tree is not cut down as if it deserved blame; nor is the corn reaped, as if it were to be condemned,–but simply because their time is come. So likewise the state of matrimony does not require the hook and scythe of sanctity, as if it were evil; but as being ripe for its discharge, and in readiness for that sanctity which will in the long run bring it a plenteous crop by its reaping. For this leads me to remark of Marcion’s god, that in reproaching marriage as an evil and unchaste thing, he is really prejudicing the cause of that very sanctity which he seems to serve. For he destroys the material on which it subsists; if there is to be no marriage, there is no sanctity. All proof of abstinence is lost when excess is impossible; for sundry things have thus their evidence in their contraries. Just as “strength is made perfect in weakness,”(13) so likewise is continence made manifest by the permission to marry. Who indeed will be called continent, if that be taken away which gives him the opportunity of pursuing a life of continence? What room for temperance in appetite does famine give? What repudiation of ambitious projects does poverty afford? What bridling of lust can the eunuch merit? To put a complete stop, however, to the sowing of the human race, may, for aught I know, be quite consistent for Marcion’s most good and excellent god. For how could he desire the salvation of man, whom he forbids to be born, when he takes away that institution from which his birth arises? How will he find any one on whom to set the mark of his goodness, when he suffers him not to come into existence? How is it possible to love him whose origin he hates? Perhaps he is afraid of a redundant population, lest he should be weary in liberating so many; lest he should have to make many heretics; lest Marcionite parents should produce too many noble disciples of Marcion. The cruelty of Pharaoh, which slew its victims at their birth, will not prove to be more inhuman in comparison.(14) For while he destroyed lives, our heretic’s god refuses to give them: the one removes from life, the other admits none to it. There is no difference in either as to their homicide–man is slain by both of them; by the former just after birth, by the latter as yet unborn. Thanks should we owe thee, thou
god of our heretic, hadst thou only checked(1) the dispensation of the Creator in uniting male and female; for from such a union indeed has thy Marcion been born! Enough; however, of Marcion’s god, who is shown to have absolutely no existence at all, both by our definitions(2) of the one only Godhead, and the condition of his attributes.(3) The whole course, however, of this little work aims directly at this conclusion. If, therefore, we seem to anybody to have achieved but little result as yet, let him reserve his expectations, until we examine the very Scripture which Marcion quotes.
THE FIVE BOOKS AGAINST MARCION.
WHEREIN TERTULLIAN SHOWS THAT THE CREATOR, OR DEMIURGE, WHOM MARCION CALUMNIATED, IS THE TRUE AND GOOD GOD.
CHAP. I.–THE METHODS OF MARCION’S ARGUMENT INCORRECT AND ABSURD. THE PROPER COURSE OF THE ARGUMENT.
THE Occasion of reproducing this little work, the fortunes of which we noticed in the preface of our first book, has furnished us with the opportunity of distinguishing, in our treatment of the subject of two Gods in opposition to Marcion, each of them with a description and section of his own, according to the division of the subject-matter, defining one of the gods to have no existence at all, and maintaining of the Other that He is rightly(2) God; thus far keeping pace with the heretic of Pontus, who has been pleased to admit one unto, and exclude the other.(3) For he could not build up his mendacious scheme without pulling down the system of truth. He found it necessary to demolish(4) some other thing, in order to build up the theory which he wished. This process, however, is like constructing a house without preparing suitable materials.(5) The discussion ought to have been directed to this point alone, that he is no god who supersedes the Creator. Then, when the false god had been excluded by certain rules which prescriptively settle what is the character of the One only perfect Divinity, there could have remained no longer any question as to the true God. The proof of His existence would have been clear, and that, too, amid the failure of all evidence in support of any other god; and still clearer(6) would have seemed the point as to the honour in which He ought without controversy to be held: that He ought to be worshipped rather than judged; served reverentially rather than handled critically, or even dreaded for His severity. For what was more fully needed by man than a careful estimate of(7) the true God, on whom, so to speak, he had alighted,(8) because there was no other god?
CHAP. II.–THE TRUE DOCTRINE OF GOD THE CREATOR. THE HERETICS PRETENDED TO A KNOWLEDGE OF THE DIVINE BEING, OPPOSED TO AND SUBVERSIVE OF REVELATION. GOD’S NATURE AND WAYS PAST HUMAN DISCOVERY. ADAM’S HERESY.
We have now, then, cleared our way to the contemplation of the Almighty God, the Lord and Maker of the universe. His greatness, as I think, is shown in this, that from the beginning He made Himself known: He never hid Himself, but always shone out brightly, even before the time of Romulus, to say nothing of that of Tiberius; with the exception indeed that the heretics, and they alone, know Him not, although they take such pains about Him. They on this account suppose that another god must be assumed to exist, because they are more able to censure than deny Him whose existence is so evident, deriving all their thoughts about God from the deductions of sense; just as if some blind man, or a man of imperfect vision,(9) chose to assume some other sun of milder and healthier ray, because he sees not that which is the object of sight.(10) There is, O
man, but one sun which rules(1) this world and even when you think otherwise of him, he is best and useful; and although to you he may seem too fierce and baneful, or else, it may be, too sordid and corrupt, he yet is true to the laws of his own existence. Unable as you are to see through those laws, you would be equally impotent to bear the rays of any other sun, were there one, however great and good. Now, you whose sight is defective(2) in respect of the inferior god, what is your view of the sublimer One? Really you are too lenient(3) to your weakness; and set not yourself to the proof(4) of things, holding God to be certainly, undoubtedly, and therefore sufficiently known, the very moment you have discovered Him to exist, though you know Him not except on the side where He has willed His proofs to lie. But you do not even deny God intelligently,(5) you treat of Him ignorantly;(6) nay, you accuse Him with a semblance of intelligence,(7) whom if you did but know Him, you would never accuse, nay, never treat of.(8) You give Him His name indeed, but you deny the essential truth of that name, that is, the greatness which is called God; not acknowledging it to be such as, were it possible for it to have been known to man in every respect,(9) would not be greatness. Isaiah even so early, with the clearness of an apostle, foreseeing the thoughts of heretical hearts, asked, “Who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counsellor? With whom took He counsel? … or who taught Him knowledge, and showed to Him the way of understanding?”(10) With whom the apostle agreeing exclaims, “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!”(11) “His judgments unsearchable,” as being those of God the Judge; and “His ways past finding out,” as comprising an understanding and knowledge which no man has ever shown to Him, except it may be those critics of the Divine Being, who say, God ought not to have been this,(12) and He ought rather to have been that; as if any one knew what is in God, except the Spirit of God.(13) Moreover, having the spirit of the world, and “in the wisdom of God by wisdom knowing not God,”(14) they seem to themselves to be wiser(15) than God; because, as the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God, so also the wisdom of God is folly in the world’s esteem. We, however, know that “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”(16) Accordingly, God is then especially great, when He is small(17) to man; then especially good, when not good in man’s judgment; then especially unique, when He seems to man to be two or more. Now, if from the very first “the natural man, not receiving the things of the Spirit of God,”(18) has deemed God’s law to be foolishness, and has therefore neglected to observe it; and as a further consequence, by his not having faith, “even that which he seemeth to have hath been taken from him”(19)–such as the grace of paradise and the friendship of God, by means of which he might have known all things of God, if he had continued in his obedience–what wonder is it, if he,(20) reduced to his material nature, and banished to the toil of tilling the ground, has in his very labour, downcast and earth-gravitating as it was, handed on that earth-derived spirit of the world to his entire race, wholly natural(21) and heretical as it is, and not receiving the things which belong to God? Or who will hesitate to declare the great sin of Adam to have been heresy, when he committed it by the choice(22) of his own will rather than of God’s? Except that Adam never said to his fig-tree, Why hast thou made me thus? He confessed that he was led astray; and he did not conceal the seducer. He was a very rude heretic. He was disobedient; but yet he did not blaspheme his Creator, nor blame that Author of his being, Whom from the beginning of his life he had found to be so good and excellent, and Whom he had perhaps(23) made his own judge from the very first.
CHAP. III.–GOD KNOWN BY HIS WORKS. HIS GOODNESS SHOWN IN HIS CREATIVE ENERGY; BUT EVERLASTING IN ITS NATURE; INHERENT IN GOD, PREVIOUS TO ALL EXHIBITION OF IT. THE FIRST STAGE OF THIS GOODNESS PRIOR TO MAN.
It will therefore be right for us, as we enter on the examination of the known God, when
the question arises, in what condition He is known to us, to begin with His works, which are prior to man; so that His goodness, being discovered immediately along with Himself, and then constituted and prescriptively settled, may suggest to us some sense whereby we may understand how the subsequent order of things came about. The disciples of Marcion, moreover, may possibly be able, while recognising the goodness of our God, to learn how worthy it is likewise of the Divine Being, on those very grounds whereby we have proved it to be unworthy in the case of their god. Now this very point,(1) which is a material one in their scheme,(2) Marcion did not find in any other god, but eliminated it for himself out of his own god. The first goodness, then,(3) was that of the Creator, whereby God was unwilling to remain hidden for ever; in other words, (unwilling) that there should not be a something by which God should become known. For what, indeed, is so good as the knowledge and fruition(4) of God? Now, although it did not transpires that this was good, because as yet there existed nothing to which it could transpire, yet God foreknew what good would eventually transpire, and therefore He set Himself about developing(6) His own perfect goodness, for the accomplishment of the good which was to transpire; not, indeed, a sudden goodness issuing m some accidental boon(7) or in some excited impulse,(8) such as must be dated simply from the moment when it began to operate. For if it did itself produce its own beginning when it began to operate, it had not, in fact, a beginning itself when it acted. When, however, an initial act had been once done by it, the scheme of temporal seasons began, for distinguishing and noting which, the stars and luminaries of heaven were arranged in their order. “Let them be,” says God, “for seasons, and for days, and years.”(9) Previous, then, to this temporal course, (the goodness) which created time had not time; nor before that beginning which the same goodness originated, had it a beginning. Being therefore without aIl order of a beginning, and all mode of time, it will be reckoned to possess an age, measureless in extent(10) and endless in duration;(11) nor will it be possible to regard it as a sudden or adventitious or impulsive emotion, because it has nothing to occasion such an estimate of itself; in other words, no sort of temporal sequence. It must therefore be accounted an eternal attribute, inbred in God,(12) and everlasting,(13) and on this account worthy of the Divine Being, putting to shame for ever(14) the benevolence of Marcion’s god, subsequent as he is to (I will not say) all beginnings and times, but to the very malignity of the Creator, if indeed malignity could possibly have been found in goodness.
CHAP. IV.–THE NEXT STAGE OCCURS IN THE CREATION OF MAN BY THE ETERNAL WORD. SPIRITUAL AS WELL AS PHYSICAL GIFTS TO MAN. THE BLESSINGS OF MAN’S FREE-WILL.
The goodness of God having, therefore, provided man for the pursuit of the knowledge of Himself, added this to its original notification,(15) that it first prepared a habitation for him, the vast fabric (of the world) to begin with, and then afterwards(16) the vaster one(of a higher world,(17)) that he might on a great as well as on a smaller stage practise and advance in his probation, and so be promoted from the good which God had given him, that is, from his high position, to God’s best; that is, to some higher abode.(18) In this good work God employs a most excellent minister, even His own Word. “My heart” He says, “hath emitted my most excellent Word.”(19) Let Marcion take hence his first lesson on the noble fruit of this truly most excellent tree. But, like a most clumsy clown, he has grafted a good branch on a bad stock. The sapling, however, of his blasphemy shall be never strong: it shall wither with its planter, and thus shall be manifested the nature of the good tree. Look at the total result: how fruitful was the Word! God issued His fiat, and it was done: God also saw that it was
good;(1) not as if He were ignorant of the good until He saw it; but because it was good, He therefore saw it, and honoured it, and set His seal upon it; and consummated(2) the goodness of His works by His vouchsafing to them that contemplation. Thus God blessed what He made good, in order that He might commend Himself to you as whole and perfect, good both in word and act.(3) As yet the Word knew no malediction, because He was a stranger to malefaction.(4) We shall see what reasons required this also of God. Meanwhile the world consisted of all things good, plainly foreshowing how much good was preparing for him for whom all this was provided. Who indeed was so worthy of dwelling amongst the works of God, as he who was His own image and likeness? That image was wrought out by a goodness even more operative than its wont,(5) with no imperious word, but with friendly hand preceded by an almost affable(6) utterance: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”(7) Goodness spake the word; Goodness formed man of the dust of the ground into so great a substance of the flesh, built up out of one material with so many qualities; Goodness breathed into him a soul, not dead but living. Goodness gave him dominion(8) over all things, which he was to enjoy and rule over, and even give names to. In addition to this, Goodness annexed pleasures(9) to man so that, while master of the whole world,(10) he might tarry among higher delights, being translated into paradise, out of the world into the Church.(11) The self-same Goodness provided also a help meet for him, that there might be nothing in his lot that was not good. For, said He, that the man be alone is not good.(12) He knew full well what a blessing to him would be the sex of Mary,(13) and also of the Church. The law, however, which you find fault with,(14) and wrest into a subject of contention, was imposed on man by Goodness, aiming at his happiness, that he might cleave to God, and so not show himself an abject creature rather than a free one, nor reduce himself to the level of the other animals, his subjects, which were free from God, and exempt from all tedious subjection;(15) but might, as the sole human being, boast that he alone was worthy of receiving laws from God; and as a rational being, capable of intelligence and knowledge, be restrained within the bounds of rational liberty, subject to Him who had subjected all things unto him. To secure the observance of this law, Goodness likewise took counsel by help of this sanction: “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shall surely die.”(16) For it was a most benignant act of His thus to point out the issues of transgression, lest ignorance of the danger should encourage a neglect of obedience. Now, since(17) it was given as a reason previous to the imposition of the law, it also amounted to a motive for subsequently observing it, that a penalty was annexed to its transgression; a penalty, indeed, which He who proposed it was still unwilling that it should be incurred. Learn then the goodness of our God amidst these things and up to this point; learn it from His excellent works, from His kindly blessings, from His indulgent bounties, from His gracious providences, from His laws and warnings, so good and merciful.
CHAP. V.–MARCION’S CAVILS CONSIDERED. HIS OBJECTION REFUTED, I.E., MAN’S FALL SHOWED FAILURE IN GOD. THE PERFECTION OF MAN’S BEING LAY IN HIS LIBERTY, WHICH GOD PURPOSELY BESTOWED ON HIM. THE FALL IMPUTABLE TO MAN’S OWN CHOICE.
Now then, ye dogs, whom the apostle puts outside,(18) and who yelp at the God of truth, let us come to your various questions. These are the bones of contention, which you are perpetually gnawing! If God is good, and prescient of the future, and able to avert evil, why did He permit man, the very image and likeness of Himself, and, by the origin of his soul, His own substance too, to be deceived by the devil, and fall from obedience of the law into death? For if He had been good, and so unwilling that such a catastrophe should happen, and prescient, so as not to be ignorant of what was to come to pass, and powerful enough to hinder its occurrence, that issue would never have come about, which should be impossible under these three conditions of the divine greatness. Since, however, it has occurred, the contrary proposition is most certainly true, that God must
be deemed neither good, nor prescient, nor powerful. For as no such issue could have happened had God been such as He is reputed–good, and prescient, and mighty–so has this issue actually happened, because He is not such a God. In reply, we must first vindicate those attributes in the Creator which are called in question–namely, His goodness and foreknowledge, and power. But I shall not linger long over this point(1) for Christ’s own definition(2) comes to our aid at once. From works must proofs be obtained. The Creator’s works testify at once to His goodness, since they are good, as we have shown, and to His power, since they are mighty, and spring indeed out of nothing. And even if they were made out of some (previous) matter, as some(3) will have it, they are even thus out of nothing, because they were not what they are. In short, both they are great because they are good; and(4) God is likewise mighty, because all things are His own, whence He is almighty. But what shall I say of His prescience, which has for its witnesses as many prophets as it inspired? After all,(5) what title to prescience do we look for in the Author of the universe, since it was by this very attribute that He foreknew all things when He appointed them their places, and appointed them their places when He fore knew them? There is sin itself. If He had not foreknown this, He would not have proclaimed a caution against it under the penalty of death. Now if there were in God such attributes as must have rendered it both impossible and improper for any evil to have happened to man,(6) and yet evil did occur, let us consider man’s condition also–whether it were not, in fact, rather the cause why that came to pass which could not have happened through God. I find, then, that man was by God constituted free, master of his own will and power; indicating the presence of God’s image and likeness in him by nothing so well as by this constitution of his nature. For it was not by his face, and by the lineaments of his body, though they were so varied in his human nature, that he expressed his likeness to the form of God; but he showed his stamp(7) in that essence which he derived from God Himself (that is, the spiritual,(8) which answered to the form of God), and in the freedom and power of his will. This his state was confirmed even by the very law which God then imposed upon him. For a law would not be imposed upon one who had it not in his power to render that obedience which is due to law; nor again, would the penalty of death be threatened against sin, if a contempt of the law were impossible to man in the liberty of his will. So in the Creator’s subsequent laws also you will find, when He sets before man good and evil, life and death, that the entire course of discipline is arranged in precepts by God’s calling men from sin, and threatening and exhorting them; and this on no other ground than(9) that man is free, with a will either for obedience or resistance.
CHAP. VI.–THIS LIBERTY VINDICATED IN RESPECT OF ITS ORIGINAL CREATION; SUITABLE ALSO FOR EXHIBITING THE GOODNESS AND THE PURPOSE OF GOD. REWARD AND PUNISHMENT IMPOSSIBLE IF MAN WERE GOOD OR EVIL THROUGH NECESSITY AND NOT CHOICE.
But although we shall be understood, from our argument, to be only so affirming man’s unshackled power over his will, that what happens to him should be laid to his own charge, and not to God’s, yet that you may not object, even now, that he ought not to have been so constituted, since his liberty and power of will might turn out to be injurious, I will first of all maintain that he was rightly so constituted, that I may with the greater confidence commend both his actual constitution, and the additional fact of its being worthy of the Divine Being; the cause which led to man’s being created with such a constitution being shown to be the better one. Moreover, man thus constituted will be protected by both the goodness of God and by His purpose,(10) both of which are always found in concert in our God. For His purpose is no purpose without goodness; nor is His goodness goodness without a purpose, except forsooth in the case of Marcion’s god, who is purposelessly (11) good, as we have shown.(12) Well, then, it was proper that God should be known; it was no doubt(13) a good and reasonable(14) thing. Proper also was it that there should be something worthy of knowing God. What could be found so worthy as the image and likeness of God? This also was undoubtedly good and reasonable. Therefore it was proper that (he who is) the image and likeness of God should be formed with a free will and a mastery of him-
self;(1) so that this very thing–namely, freedom of will and self-command–might be reckoned as the image and likeness of God in him. For this purpose such an essence(2) was adapted(3) to man as suited this character,(4) even the afflatus of the Deity, Himself free and uncontrolled.(5) But if you will take some other view of the case,(6) how came it to pass (7) that man, when in possession of the whole world, did not above all things reign in self-possession(8)–a master over others, a slave to himself? The goodness of God, then, you can learn from His gracious gift(9) to man, and His purpose from His disposal of all things.(10) At present, let God’s goodness alone occupy our attention, that which gave so large a gift to man, even the liberty of his will. God’s purpose claims some other opportunity of treatment, offering as it does instruction of like import. Now, God alone is good by nature. For He, who has that which is without beginning, has it not by creation,(11) but by nature. Man, however, who exists entirely by creation, having a beginning, along with that beginning obtained the form in which he exists; and thus he is not by nature disposed to good, but by creation, not having it as his own attribute to be good, because, (as we have said,) it is not by nature, but by creation, that he is disposed to good, according to the appointment of his good Creator, even the Author of all good. In order, therefore, that man might have a goodness of his own,(12) bestowed(13) on him by God, and there might be henceforth in man a property, and in a certain sense a natural attribute of goodness, there was assigned to him in the constitution of his nature, as a formal witness(14) of the goodness which God bestowed upon him, freedom and power of the will, such as should cause good to be performed spontaneously by man, as a property of his own, on the ground that no less than this(15) would be required in the matter of a goodness which was to be voluntarily exercised by him, that is to say, by the liberty of his will, without either favour or servility to the constitution of his nature, so that man should be good(16) just up to this point,(17) if he should display his goodness in accordance with his natural constitution indeed, but still as the result of his will, as a property of his nature; and, by a similar exercise of volition,(18) should show himself to be too strong(19) in defence against evil also (for even this God, of course, foresaw), being free, and master of himself; because, if he were wanting in this prerogative of self-mastery, so as to perform even good by necessity and not will, he would, in the helplessness of his servitude, become subject to the usurpation of evil, a slave as much to evil as to good. Entire freedom of will, therefore, was conferred upon him in both tendencies; so that, as master of himself, he might constantly encounter good by spontaneous observance of it, and evil by its spontaneous avoidance; because, were man even otherwise circumstanced, it was yet his bounden duty, in the judgment of God, to do justice according to the motions(20) of his will regarded, of course, as free. But the reward neither of good nor of evil could be paid to the man who should be found to have been either good or evil through necessity and not choice. In this really lay(21) the law which did not exclude, but rather prove, human liberty by a spontaneous rendering of obedience, or a spontaneous commission of iniquity; so patent was the liberty of man’s will for either issue. Since, therefore, both the goodness and purpose of God are(22) discovered in the gift to man of freedom in his will, it is not right, after ignoring the original definition of goodness and purpose which it was necessary to determine previous to any discussion of the subject, on subsequent facts to presume to say that God ought not in such a way to have formed man, because the issue was other than what was assumed to be(23) proper for God. We ought rather,(24) after duly considering that it behoved God so to create man, to leave this consideration unimpaired, and to survey the other aspects of the case. It is, no doubt, an easy process for persons who take offence at the fall of man, before they have looked into the facts of his creation, to impute the blame of what happened to the Creator, without any examination of His purpose. To conclude: the goodness of God, then fully considered from the beginning of His works, will be enough to convince us that nothing evil could
possibly have come forth from God; and the liberty of man will, after a second thought,(1) show us that it alone is chargeable with the fault which itself committed.
CHAP. VII.–IF GOD HAD ANYHOW CHECKED MAN’S LIBERTY, MARCION WOULD HAVE BEEN READY WITH ANOTHER AND OPPOSITE CAVIL. MAN’S FALL FORESEEN BY GOD. PROVISION MADE FOR IT REMEDIALLY AND CONSISTENTLY WITH HIS TRUTH AND GOODNESS.
By such a conclusion all is reserved(2) unimpaired to God; both His natural goodness, and the purposes of His governance and foreknowledge, and the abundance of His power. You ought, however, to deduct from God’s attributes both His supreme earnestness of purpose(3) and most excellent truth in His whole creation, if you would cease to inquire whether anything could have happened against the will of God. For, while holding this earnestness and truth of the good God, which are indeed(4) capable of proof from the rational creation, you will not wonder at the fact that God did not interfere to prevent the occurrence of what He wished not to happen, in order that He might keep from harm what He wished. For, since He had once for all allowed (and, as we have shown, worthily allowed) to man freedom of will and mastery of himself, surely He from His very authority in creation permitted these gifts to be enjoyed: to be enjoyed, too, so far as lay in Himself, according to His own character as God, that is, for good (for who would permit anything hostile to himself?); and, so far as lay in man, according to the impulses of his liberty (for who does not, when giving anything to any one to enjoy, accompany the gift with a permission to enjoy it with all his heart and will?). The necessary consequence,(5) therefore, was, that God must separate from the liberty which He had once for all bestowed upon man (in other words, keep within Himself), both His foreknowledge and power, through which He might have prevented man’s falling into danger when attempting wrongly to enjoy his liberty. Now, if He had interposed, He would have rescinded the liberty of man’s will, which He had permitted with set purpose, and in goodness. But, suppose God had interposed; suppose Him to have abrogated man’s liberty, by warning him from the tree, and keeping off the subtle serpent from his interview with the woman; would not Marcion then exclaim, What a frivolous, unstable, and faithless Lord, cancelling the gifts He had bestowed! Why did He allow any liberty of will, if He afterwards withdrew it? Why withdraw it after allowing it? Let Him choose where to brand Himself with error, either in His original constitution of man, or in His subsequent abrogation thereof! If He had checked (man’s freedom), would He not then seem to have been rather deceived, through want of foresight into the future? But in giving it full scope, who would not say that He did so in ignorance of the issue of things? God, however, did fore-know that man would make a bad use of his created constitution; and yet what can be so worthy of God as His earnestness of purpose, and the truth of His created works, be they what they may? Man must see, if he failed to make the most of(6) the good gift he had received, how that he was himself guilty in respect of the law which he did not choose to keep, and not that the Lawgiver was committing a fraud against His own law, by not permitting its injunctions to be fulfilled. Whenever you are inclined to indulge in such censure(7) (and it is the most becoming for you) against the Creator, recall gently to your mind in His behalf(8) His earnestness, and endurance, and truth, in having given completeness(9) to His creatures both as rational and good.
CHAP. VIII.–MAN, ENDUED WITH LIBERTY, SUPERIOR TO THE ANGELS. OVERCOMES EVEN THE ANGEL WHICH LURED HIM TO HIS FALL, WHEN REPENTANT AND RESUMING OBEDIENCE TO GOD.
For it was not merely that he might live the natural life that God had produced man, but(10) that he should live virtuously, that is, in relation to God and to His law. Accordingly, God gave him to live when he was formed into a living soul; but He charged him to live virtuously when he was required to obey a law. So also God shows that man was not constituted for death, by now wishing that he should be restored to life, preferring the sinner’s repentance to his death.(11) As, therefore, God designed for man a condition of life, so man brought on himself a state of death; and this, too, neither through infirmity nor through ignorance, so that no blame can be imputed to the Creator. No doubt it was an angel who was the seducer; but then the victim of that seduction was free, and master of himself;
and as being the image and likeness of God, was stronger than any angel; and as being, too, the afflatus of the Divine Being, was nobler than that material spirit of which angels were made. Who maketh, says he, His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire.(1) He would not have made all things subject to man, if he had been too weak for the dominion, and inferior to the angels, to whom He assigned no such subjects; nor would He have put the burden of law upon him, if he had been incapable of sustaining so great a weight; nor, again, would He have threatened with the penalty of death a creature whom He knew to be guiltless on the score of his helplessness: in short, if He had made him infirm, it would not have been by liberty and independence of will, but rather by the withholding from him these endowments. And thus it comes to pass, that even now also, the same human being, the same substance of his soul, the same condition as Adam’s, is made conqueror over the same devil by the self-same liberty and power of his will, when it moves in obedience to the laws of God.(2)
CHAP. IX.–ANOTHER CAVIL ANSWERED, I.E., THE FALL IMPUTABLE TO GOD, BECAUSE MAN’S SOUL IS A PORTION OF THE SPIRITUAL ESSENCE OF THE CREATOR. THE DIVINE AFFLATUS NOT IN FAULT IN THE SIN OF MAN, BUT THE HUMAN WILL WHICH WAS ADDITIONAL TO IT.
But, you say, in what way soever the substance of the Creator is found to be susceptible of fault, when the afflatus of God, that is to say, the soul,(3) offends in man, it cannot but be that that fault of the portion is referrible to the original whole. Now, to meet this objection, we must explain the nature(4) of the soul. We must at the outset hold fast the meaning of the Greek scripture, which has afflatus, not spirit.(5) Some interpreters of the Greek, without reflecting on the difference of the words, and careless about their exact meaning, put spirit for afflatus; they thus afford to heretics an opportunity of tarnishing(6) the Spirit of God, that is to say, God Himself, with default. And now comes the question. Afflatus, observe then, is less than spirit, although it comes from spirit; it is the spirit’s gentle breeze,(7) but it is not the spirit. Now a breeze is rarer than the wind; and although it proceeds from wind, yet a breeze is not the wind. One may call a breeze the image of the spirit. In the same manner, man is the image of God, that is, of spirit; for God is spirit. Afflatus is therefore the image of the spirit. Now the image is not in any case equal to the very thing.(8) It is one thing to be like the reality, and another thing to be the reality itself. So, although the afflatus is the image of the spirit, it is yet not possible to compare the image of God in such a way, that, because the reality–that is, the spirit, or in other words, the Divine Being–is faultless, therefore the afflatus also, that is to say, the image, ought not by any possibility to have done wrong. In this respect will the image be less than the reality, and the afflatus inferior to the spirit, in that, while it possesses beyond doubt the true lineaments of divinity, such as an immortal soul, freedom and its own mastery over itself, foreknowledge in a great degree,(9) reasonableness, capacity of understanding and knowledge, it is even in these respects an image still, and never amounts to the actual power of Deity, nor to absolute exemption from fault,–a property which is only conceded to God, that is, to the reality, and which is simply incompatible with an image. An image, although it may express all the lineaments of the reality, is yet wanting in its intrinsic power; it is destitute of motion. In like manner, the soul, the image of the spirit, is unable to express the simple power thereof, that is to say, its happy exemption from sinning.(10) Were it otherwise,(11) it would not be soul, but spirit; not man, who received a soul, but God. Besides, to take another view of the matter,(12) not everything which pertains to God will be regarded as God, so that you would not maintain that His afflatus was God, that is, exempt from fault, because it is the breath of God. And in an act of your own, such as blowing into a flute, you would not thereby make the flute human, although it was your own human breath which you breathed into it, precisely as God breathed of His own Spirit, In fact,(13) the Scripture, by expressly saying(14) that God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life, and that man became thereby a living soul, not a life-giving spirit, has distinguished that soul from the condition of the Creator. The work must
necessarily be distinct from the workman, and it is inferior to him. The pitcher will not be the potter, although made by the potter; nor in like manner, will the afflatus, because made by the spirit, be on that account the spirit. The soul has often been called by the same name as the breath. You should also take care that no descent be made from the breath to a still lower quality. So you have granted (you say) the infirmity of the soul, which you denied before! Undoubtedly, when you demand for it an equality with God, that is, a freedom from fault, I contend that it is infirm. But when the comparison is challenged with an angel, I am compelled to maintain that the head over all things is the stronger of the two, to whom the angels are ministers,(1) who is destined to be the judge of angels,(2) if he shall stand fast in the law of God–an obedience which he refused at first. Now this disobedience(3) it was possible for the afflatus of God to commit: it was possible, but it was not proper. The possibility lay in its slenderness of nature, as being the breath and not the spirit; the impropriety, however, arose from its power of will, as being free, and not a slave. It was furthermore assisted by the warning against committing sin under the threat of incurring death, which was meant to be a support for its slender nature, and a direction for its liberty of choice. So that the soul can no longer appear to have sinned, because it has an affinity with God, that is to say, through the afflatus, but rather through that which was an addition to its nature, that is, through its free-will, which was indeed given to it by God in accordance with His purpose and reason, but recklessly employed(4) by man according as he chose. This, then, being the case, the entire course(5) of God’s action is purged from all imputation to evil. For the liberty of the will will not retort its own wrong on Him by whom it was bestowed, but on him by whom it was improperly used. What is the evil, then, which you want to impute to the Creator? If it is man’s sin, it will not be God’s fault, because it is man’s doing; nor is that Being to be regarded as the author of the sin, who turns out to be its forbidder, nay, its condemner. If death is the evil, death will not give the reproach of being its own author to Him who threatened it, but to him who despised it. For by his contempt he introduced it, which assuredly(6) would not have appeared had man not despised it.
CHAP. X.–ANOTHER CAVIL MET, I.E., THE DEVIL WHO INSTIGATED MAN TO SIN HIMSELF THE CREATURE OF GOD. NAY, THE PRIMEVAL CHERUB ONLY WAS GOD’S WORK. THE DEVILISH NATURE SUPERADDED BY WILFULNESS. IN MAN’S RECOVERY THE DEVIL IS VANQUISHED IN A CONFLICT ON HIS OWN GROUND.
If, however, you choose to transfer the account(7) of evil from man to the devil as the instigator of sin, and in this way, too, throw the blame on the Creator, inasmuch as He created the devil,–for He maketh those spirtual beings, the angels–then it will follow that(8) what was made, that is to say, the angel, will belong to Him who made it; while that which was not made by God, even the devil, or accuser,(9) cannot but have been made by itself; and this by false detraction(10) from God: first, how that God had forbidden them to eat of every tree; then, with the pretence that they should not die if they ate; thirdly, as if God grudged them the property of divinity. Now, whence originated this malice of lying and deceit towards man, and slandering of God? Most certainly not from God, who made the angel good after the fashion of His good works. Indeed, before he became the devil, he stands forth the wisest of creatures; and(11) wisdom is no(11) evil. if you turn to the prophecy of Ezekiel, you will at once perceive that this angel was both by creation good and by choice corrupt. For in the person of the prince of Tyre it is said in reference to the devil: “Moreover, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God: Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty” (this belongs to him as the highest of the angels, the archangel, the wisest of all); “amidst the delights of the paradise of thy God wast thou born” (for it was there, where God had made the angels in a shape which resembled the figure of animals). “Every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, the topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle; and with gold hast thou filled thy barns and thy treasuries. From the day when thou wast created, when I set thee, a cherub, upon the holy mountain of God, thou wast in the midst of stones of fire, thou wast irreproachable in thy days, from the day of thy creation, until thine iniquities were discovered. By the abundance of thy
merchandise thou hast filled thy storehouses, and thou hast sinned,” etc.(1) This description, it is manifest, properly belongs to the transgression of the angel, and not to the prince’s: for none among human beings was either born in the paradise of God, not even Adam himself, who was rather translated thither; nor placed with a cherub upon God’s holy mountain, that is to say, in the heights of heaven, from which the Lord testifies that Satan fell; nor detained amongst the stones of fire, and the flashing rays of burning conStellations, whence Satan was cast down like lightning.(2) No, it is none else than the very author of sin who was denoted in the person of a sinful man: he was once irreproachable, at the time of his creation, formed for good by God, as by the good Creator of irreproachable creatures, and adorned with every angelic glory, and associated with God, good with the Good; but afterwards of his own accord removed to evil. From the day when thine iniquities,(3) says he, were discovered,–attributing to him those injuries wherewith he injured man when he was expelled from his allegiance to God,–even from that time did he sin, when he propagated his sin, and thereby plied “the abundance of his merchandise,” that is, of his Wickedness, even the tale(4) of his transgressions, because he was himself as a spirit no less (than man) created, with the faculty of free-will. For God would in nothing fail to endow a being who was to be next to Himself with a liberty of this kind. Nevertheless, by precondemning him, God testified that he had departed from the condition(5) of his created nature, through his own lusting after the wickedness which was spontaneously conceived within him; and at the same time, by conceding a permission for the operation of his designs, He acted consistently with the purpose of His own goodness, deferring the devil’s destruction for the self-same reason as He postponed the restitution of man. For He afforded room for a conflict, wherein man might crush his enemy with the same freedom of his will as had made him succumb to him (proving that the fault was all his own, not God’s), and so worthily recover his salvation by a victory; wherein also the devil might receive a more bitter punishment, through being vanquished by him whom he had previously injured; and wherein God might be discovered to be so much the more good, as waiting(6) for man to return from his present life to a more glorious paradise, with a right to pluck of the tree of life.(7)
CHAP. XI.–IF, AFTER MAN’S SIN, GOD EXERCISED HIS ATTRIBUTE OF JUSTICE AND JUDGMENT, THIS WAS COMPATIBLE WITH HIS GOODNESS, AND ENHANCES THE TRUE IDEA OF THE PERFECTION OF GOD’S CHARACTER.
Up to the fall of man, therefore, from the beginning God was simply good; after that He became a judge both severe and, as the Marcionites will have it, cruel. Woman is at once condemned to bring forth in sorrow, and to serve her husband,(8) although before she had heard without pain the increase of her race proclaimed with the blessing, Increase and multiply, and although she had been destined to be a help and not a slave to her male partner. Immediately the earth is also cursed,(9) which before was blessed. Immediately spring up briers and thorns, where once had grown grass, and herbs, and fruitful trees. Immediately arise sweat and labour for bread, where previously on every tree was yielded spontaneous food and untilled(10) nourishment. Thenceforth it is “man to the ground,” and not as before, “from the ground; to death thenceforth, but before, to life; thenceforth with coats of skins, but before, nakedness without a blush. Thus God’s prior goodness was from(11) nature, His subsequent severity from(11) a cause. The one was innate, the other accidental; the one His own, the other adapted;(12) the one issuing from Him, the other admitted by Him. But then nature could not have rightly permitted His goodness to have gone on inoperative, nor the cause have allowed His severity to have escaped in disguise or concealment. God provided the one for Himself, the other for the occasion.(13) You should now set about showing also that the position of a judge is allied with evil, who have been dreaming of another god as a purely good one–solely because you cannot understand the Deity to be a judge; although we have proved God to be also a judge. Or if not a judge, at any rate a perverse and useless originator of a discipline which is not to be vindicated–in other words, not to be judged. You do not, however, disprove God’s being a judge, who have no proof to show that He is a judge. You will undoubtedly have to accuse justice herself, which provides the judge, or else to reckon her among the species
of evil, that is, to add injustice to the titles of goodness. But then justice is an evil, if injustice is a good. And yet you are forced to declare injustice to be one of the worst of things, and by the same rule are constrained to class justice amongst the most excellent. Since there is nothing hostile(1) to evil which is not good, and no enemy of good which is not evil. It follows, then, that as injustice is an evil, so in the same degree is justice a good. Nor should it be regarded as simply a species of goodness, but as the practical observance(2) of it, because goodness (unless justice be so controlled as to be just) will not be goodness, if it be unjust. For nothing is good which is unjust; while everything, on the other hand, which is just is good.
CHAP. XII.–THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOODNESS AND JUSTICE SHOULD NOT BE SEPARATED. THEY ARE COMPATIBLE IN THE TRUE GOD. THE FUNCTION OF JUSTICE IN THE DIVINE BEING DESCRIBED.
Since, therefore, there is this union and agreement between goodness and justice, you cannot prescribes their separation. With what face will you determine the separation of your two Gods, regarding in their separate condition one as distinctively the good God, and the other as distinctively the just God? Where the just is, there also exists the good. in short, from the very first the Creator was both good and also just. And both His attributes advanced together. His goodness created, His justice arranged, the world; and in this process it even then decreed that the world should be formed of good materials, because it took counsel with goodness. The work of justice is apparent, in the separation which was pronounced between light and darkness, between day and night, between heaven and earth, between the water above and the water beneath, between the gathering together of the sea and the mass of the dry land, between the greater lights and the lesser, between the luminaries of the day and those of the night, between male and female, between the tree of knowledge of death and of life, between the world and paradise, between the aqueous and the earth-born animals. As goodness conceived all things, so did justice discriminate them. With the determination of the latter, everything was arranged and set in order. Every site and quality(4) of the elements, their effect, motion, and state, the rise and setting of each, are the judicial determinations of the Creator. Do not suppose that His function as a judge must be defined as beginning I when evil began, and so tarnish His justice i with the cause of evil. By such considerations, then, do we show that this attribute advanced in company with goodness, the author s of all things,–worthy of being herself, too, deemed innate and natural, and not as accidentally accruing(6) to God, inasmuch as she was found to be in Him, her Lord, the arbiter of His works.
CHAP. XIII.–FURTHER DESCRIPTION OF THE DIVINE JUSTICE; SINCE THE FALL OF MAN IT HAS REGULATED THE DIVINE GOODNESS, GOD’S CLAIMS ON OUR LOVE AND OUR FEAR RECONCILED.
But yet, when evil afterwards broke out, and the goodness of God began now to have an adversary to contend against, God’s justice also acquired another function, even that of directing His goodness according to men’s application for it.(7) And this is the result: the divine goodness, being interrupted in that free course whereby God was spontaneously good, is now dispensed according to the deserts of every man; it is offered to the worthy, denied to the unworthy, taken away from the unthankful, and also avenged on all its enemies. Thus the entire office of justice in this respect becomes an agency(8) for goodness: whatever it condemns by its judgment, whatever it chastises by its condemnation, whatever (to use your phrase) it ruthlessly pursues,(9) it, in fact, benefits with good instead of injuring. Indeed, the fear of judgment contributes to good, not to evil. For good, now contending with an enemy, was not strong enough to recommend itself(10) by itself alone. At all events, if it could do so much, it could not keep its ground; for it had lost its impregnability through the foe, unless some power of fear supervened, such as might compel the very unwilling to seek after good, and take care of it. But who, when so many incentives to evil were assailing him, would desire that good, which he could despise with impunity? Who, again, would take care of what he could lose without danger? You read bow broad is the road to evil,(11) how thronged in comparison with the opposite: would not all glide down that road were there nothing in it to fear? We dread the Creator’s tremendous threats, and yet scarcely turn away from
evil. What, if He threatened not? Will you call this justice an evil, when it is all unfavourable to evil? Will you deny it to be a good, when it has its eye towards(1) good? What sort of being ought you to wish God to be? Would it be right to prefer that He should be such, that sins might flourish under Him, and the devil make mock at Him? Would you suppose Him to be a good God, who should be able to make a man worse by security in sin? Who is the author of good, but He who also requires it? In like manner who is a stranger to evil, except Him who is its enemy? Who its enemy, besides Him who is its conqueror? Who else its conqueror, than He who is its punisher? Thus God is wholly good, because in all things He is on the side of good. In fact, He is omnipotent, because able both to help and to hurt. Merely to profit is a comparatively small matter, because it can do nothing else than a good turn. From such a conduct(2) with what confidence can I hope for good, if this is its only ability? How can I follow after the reward of innocence, if I have no regard to the requital of wrong-doing? I must needs have my doubts whether he might not fail in recompensing one or other alternative, who was unequal in his resources to meet both. Thus far, then, justice is the very fulness of the Deity Himself, manifesting God as both a perfect father and a perfect master: a father in His mercy, a master in His discipline; a father in the mildness of His power, a master in its severity; a father who must be loved with dutiful affection, a master who must needs be feared; be loved, because He prefers mercy to sacrifice;(3) be feared because He dislikes sin; be loved, because He prefers the sinner,s repentance to his death;(4) be feared, because He dislikes the sinners who do not repent. Accordingly, the divine law enjoins duties in respect of both these attributes: Thou shalt love God, and, Thou shalt fear God. It proposed one for the obedient man, the other for the transgressor.(5)
CHAP. XIV.–EVIL OF TWO KINDS, PENAL AND CRIMINAL. IT IS NOT OF THE LATTER SORT THAT GOD IS THE AUTHOR, BUT ONLY OF THE FORMER, WHICH ARE PENAL, AND INCLUDED IN HIS JUSTICE.
On all occasions does God meet you: it is He who smites, but also heals; who kills, but also makes alive; who humbles, and yet exalts; who “creates(6) evil,” but also “makes peace;”(7)–so that from these very (contrasts Of HiS providence) I may get an answer to the heretics. Behold, they say, how He acknowledges Himself to be the creator of evil in the passage, “It is I who create evil.” They take a word whose one form reduces to confusion and ambiguity two kinds of evils (because both sins and punishments are called evils), and will have Him in every passage to be understood as the creator of all evil things, in order that He may be designated the author of evil. We, on the contrary, distinguish between the two meanings of the word in question, and, by separating evils of sin from penal evils, mala culpoe from mala poenoe, confine to each of the two classes its own author,–the devil as the author of the sinful evils (culpoe), and God as the creator of penal evils (poenoe); so that the one class shall be accounted as morally bad, and the other be classed as the operations of justice passing penal sentences against the evils of sin. Of the latter class of evils which are compatible with justice, God is therefore avowedly the creator. They are, no doubt, evil to those by whom they are endured, but still on their own account good, as being just and defensive of good and hostile to sin. In this respect they are, moreover, worthy of God. Else prove them to be unjust, in order to show them deserving of a place in the sinful class, that is to say, evils of injustice; because if they turn out to belong to justice, they will be no longer evil things, but good–evil only to the bad, by whom even directly good things are condemned as evil. In this case, you must decide that man, although the wilful contemner of the divine law, unjustly bore the doom which he would like to have escaped; that the wickedness of those days was unjustly smitten by the deluge, afterwards by the fire (of Sodom); that Egypt, although most depraved and superstititious, and, worse still, the harasser of its guest-population,(8) was unjustly stricken with the chastisement of its ten plagues. God hardens the heart of Pharaoh. He deserved, however, to be influenced(9) to his destruction, who had already denied God, already in his pride so often rejected His ambassadors, accumulated heavy burdens on His people, and (to sum up all) as an Egyptian, had long been guilty before God of Gentile idolatry, worshipping the ibis and the crocodile in preference to the living God. Even His own people did God visit in their ingratitude.(10) Against young lads, too,
did He send forth bears, for their irreverence to the prophet.(1)
CHAP. XV.–THE SEVERITY OF GOD COMPATIBLE WITH REASON AND JUSTICE. WHEN INFLICTED, NOT MEANT TO BE ARBITRARY, BUT REMEDIAL.
Consider well,(2) then, before all things the justice of the Judge; and if its purpose(3) be clear, then the severity thereof, and the operations of the severity in its course, will appear compatible with reason and justice. Now, that we may not linger too long on the point, (I would challenge you to) assert the other reasons also, that you may condemn the Judge’s sentences; extenuate the delinquencies of the sinner, that you may blame his judicial conviction. Never mind censuring the Judge; rather prove Him to be an unjust one. Well, then, even though(4) He required the sins of the fathers at the hands of the children, the hardness of the people made such remedial measures necessary s for them, in order that, having their posterity in view, they might obey the divine law. For who is there that feels not a greater care for his children than for himself? Again, if the blessing of the fathers was destined likewise for their offspring, previous to(6) any merit on the part of these, why might not the guilt of the fathers also redound to their children? As was the grace, so was the offence; so that the grace and the offence equally ran down through the whole race, with the reservation, indeed, of that subsequent ordinance by which it became possible to refrain from saying, that “the fathers had eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth were set on edge:”(7) in other words, that the father should not bear the iniquity of the son, nor the son the iniquity of the father, but that every man should be chargeable with his own sin; so that the harshness of the law having been reduced(8) after the hardness of the people, justice was no longer to judge the race, but individuals. If, however, you accept the gospel of truth, you will discover on whom recoils the sentence of the Judge, when requiting on sons the sins of their fathers, even on those who had been (hardened enough) to imprecate spontaneously on themselves this condemnation: “His blood be on us, and on our children.”(9) This, therefore, the providence of God has ordered throughout its course,(10) even as it had heard it.
CHAP. XVI.–TO THE SEVERITY OF GOD THERE BELONG ACCESSORY QUALITIES, COMPATIBLE WITH JUSTICE. IF HUMAN PASSIONS ARE PREDICATED OF GOD, THEY MUST NOT BE MEASURED ON THE SCALE OF HUMAN IMPERFECTION.
Even His severity then is good, because just: when the judge is good, that is just. Other. qualities likewise are good, by means of which the good work of a good severity runs out its course, whether wrath, or jealousy,(11) or sternness.(12) For all these are as indispensable(13) to severity as severity is to justice. The shamelessness of an age, which ought to have been reverent, had to be avenged. Accordingly, qualities which pertain to the judge, when they are actually free from blame, as the judge himself is, will never be able to be charged upon him as a fault.(14) What would be said, if, when you thought the doctor necessary, you were to find fault with his instruments, because they cut, or cauterize, or amputate, or tighten; whereas there could be no doctor of any value without his professional tools? Censure, if you please, the practitioner who cuts badly, amputates clumsily, is rash in his cautery; and even blame his implements as rough tools of his art. Your conduct is equally unreasonable,(15) when you allow indeed that God is a judge, but at the same time destroy those operations and dispositions by which He discharges His judicial functions. We are taught(16) God by the prophets, and by Christ, not by the philosophers nor by Epicurus. We who believe that God really lived on earth, and took upon Him the low estate of human form,(17) for the purpose of man’s salvation, are very far from thinking as those do who refuse to believe that God cares for(18) anything. Whence has found its way to the heretics an argument of this kind: If God is angry, and jealous, and roused, and grieved, He must therefore be corrupted, and must therefore die. Fortunately, however, it is a part of the creed of Christians even to believe that God did die,(19) and yet that He is alive for evermore. Superlative is their folly, who prejudge divine things from human; so
that, because in man’s corrupt condition there are found passions of this description, therefore there must be deemed to exist in God also sensations(1) of the same kind. Discriminate between the natures, and assign to them their respective senses, which are as diverse as their natures require, although they seem to have a community of designations. We read, indeed, of God’s right hand, and eyes, and feet: these must not, however, be compared with those of human beings, because they are associated in one and the same name. Now, as great as shall be the difference between the divine and the human body, although their members pass under identical names, so great will also be the diversity between the divine and the human soul, notwithstanding that their sensations are designated by the same names. These sensations in the human being are rendered just as corrupt by the corruptibility of man’s substance, as in God they are rendered incorruptible by the incorruption of the divine essence. Do you really believe the Creator to be God? By all means, is your reply. How then do you suppose that in God there is anything human, and not that all is divine? Him whom you do not deny to be God, you confess to be not human; because, when you confess Him to be God, you have, in fact, already determind that He is undoubtedly diverse from every sort of human conditions. Furthermore, although you allow, with others,(2) that man was inbreathed by God into a living soul, not God by man, it is yet palpably absurd of you to be placing human characteristics in God rather than divine ones in man, and clothing God in the likeness of man, instead of man in the image of God. And this, therefore, is to be deemed the likeness of God in man, that the human soul have the same emotions and sensations as God, although they are not of the same kind; differing as they do both in their conditions and their issues according to their nature. Then, again, with respect to the opposite sensations,–I mean meekness, patience, mercy, and the very parent of them all, goodness,–why do you form your opinion of(3) the divine displays of these (from the human qualities)? For we indeed do not possess them in perfection, because it is God alone who is perfect. So also in regard to those others,–namely, anger and irritation. we are not affected by them in so happy a manner, because God alone is truly happy, by reason of His property of incorruptibility. Angry He will possibly be, but not irritated, nor dangerously tempted;(4) He will be moved, but not subverted.(5) All appliances He must needs use, because of all contingencies; as many sensations as there are causes: anger because of the wicked, and indignation because of the ungrateful, and jealousy because of the proud, and whatsoever else is a hinderance to the evil. So, again, mercy on account of the erring, and patience on account of the impenitent, and pre-eminent resources(6) on account of the meritorious, and whatsoever is necessary to the good. All these affections He is moved by in that peculiar manner of His own, in which it is profoundly fit(7) that He should be affected; and it is owing to Him that man is also similarly affected in a way which is equally his own.
CHAP. XVII.–TRACE GOD’S GOVERNMENT IN HISTORY AND IN HIS PRECEPTS, AND YOU WILL FIND IT FULL OF HIS GOODNESS.
These considerations show that the entire order of God as Judge is an operative one, and (that I may express myself in worthier words) protective of His Catholic(8) and supreme goodness, which, removed as it is from judiciary emotions, and pure in its own condition, the Marcionites refuse to acknowledge to be in one and the same Deity, “raining on the just and on the unjust, and making His sun to rise on the evil and on the good,”(9)–a bounty which no other god at all exercises. It is true that Marcion has been bold enough to erase from the gospel this testimony of Christ to the Creator; but yet the world itself is inscribed with the goodness of its Maker, and the inscription is read by each man’s conscience. Nay, this very long-suffering of the Creator will tend to the condemnation of Marcion; that patience, (I mean,) which waits for the sinner’s repentance rather than his death, which prefers mercy to sacrifice,(10) averting from the Ninevites the ruin which had been already denounced against them,(11) and vouchsafing to Hezekiah’s tears an extension of his life,(12) and restoring his kingly state to the monarch of Babylon after his complete repentance;(13) that mercy, too, which conceded to the devotion of the people the son of Saul when about to die,(14) and gave free forgiveness to David on his confessing his sins against
the house of Uriah;(1) which also restored the house of Israel as often as it condemned it, and addressed to it consolation no less frequently than reproof. Do not therefore look at God simply as Judge, but turn your attention also to examples of His conduct as the Most Good.(2) Noting Him, as you do, when He takes vengeance, consider Him likewise When He shows mercy.(3) In the scale, against His severity place His gentleness. When you shall have discovered both qualities to co-exist in the Creator, you will find in Him that very circumstance which induces you to think there is another God. Lastly, come and examine into His doctrine, discipline, precepts, and counsels. You will perhaps say that there are equally good prescriptions in human laws. But Moses and God existed before all your Lycurguses and Solons. There is not one after-age(4) which does not take from primitive sources. At any rate, my Creator did not learn from your God to issue such commandments as: Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness; thou shalt not covet what is thy neighbour’s; honour thy father and thy mother; and, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. To these prime counsels of innocence, chastity, and justice, and piety, are also added prescriptions of humanity, as when every seventh year slaves are released for liberty;(5) when at the same period the land is spared from tillage; a place is also granted to the needy; and from the treading ox’s mouth the muzzle is removed, for the enjoyment of the fruit of his labour before him, in order that kindness first shown in the case of animals might be raised from such rudiments(6) to the refreshment(7) of men.
CHAP. XVIII.–SOME OF GOD’S LAWS DEFENDED AS GOOD, WHICH THE MARCIONITES IMPEACHED, SUCH AS THE LEX TALIONIS. USEFUL PURPOSES IN A SOCIAL AND MORAL POINT OF VIEW OF THIS, AND SUNDRY OTHER ENACTMENTS.
But what parts of the law can I defend as good with a greater confidence than those which heresy has shown such a longing for?–as the statute of retaliation, requiring eye for eye, tooth for tooth, and stripe for stripe.(8) Now there is not here any smack of a permission to mutual injury; but rather, on the whole, a provision for restraining violence. To a people which was very obdurate, and wanting in faith towards God, it might seem tedious, and even incredible, to expect from God that vengeance which was subsequently to be declared by the prophet: “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”(9) Therefore, in the meanwhile, the commission of wrong was to be checked(10) by the fear of a retribution immediately to happen; and so the permission of this retribution was to be the prohibition of provocation, that a stop might thus be put to all hot-blooded(11) injury, whilst by the permission of the second the first is prevented by fear, and by this deterring of the first the second fails to be committed. By the same law another result is also obtained,(12) even the more ready kindling of the fear of retaliation by reason of the very savour of passion which is in it. There is no more bitter thing, than to endure the very suffering which you have inflicted upon others. When, again, the law took somewhat away from men’s food, by pronouncing unclean certain animals which were once blessed, you should understand this to be a measure for encouraging continence, and recognise in it a bridle imposed on that appetite which, while eating angels’ food, craved after the cucumbers and melons of the Egyptians. Recognise also therein a precaution against those companions of the appetite, even lust and luxury, which are usually chilled by the chastening of the appetite.(13) For “the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.”(14) Fu