CHAP. XI.-- THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS. THE CREATOR THE FATHER OF MERCIES. SHOWN TO BE SUCH IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, AND ALSO IN CHRIST. THE NEWNESS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT. THE VEIL OF OBDURATE BLINDNESS UPON ISRAEL, NOT REPREHENSIBLE ON MARCION'S PRINCIPLES. THE JEWS GUILTY IN REJECTING THE CHRIST OF THE CREATOR. SATAN, THE GOD OF THIS WORLD. THE TREASURE IN EARTHEN VESSELS EXPLAINED AGAINST MARCION. THE CREATOR'S RELATION TO THESE VESSELS, I.E. OUR BODIES.
If, owing to the fault of human error, the word God has become a common name (since in the world there are said and believed to be "gods many"(9)), yet "the blessed God," (who is "the Father) of our Lord Jesus Christ,(10) will be understood to be no other God than the Creator, who both blessed all things (that He had made), as you find in Genesis,(11) and is Himself "blessed by all things," as Daniel tells us.(12) Now, if the title of Father may be claimed for (Marcion's) sterile god, how much more for the Creator? To none other than Him is it suitable, who is also "the Father of mercies,"(13) and (in the prophets) has been described as "full of compassion, and gracious, and plenteous in mercy."(14) In Jonah you find the signal act of His mercy, which He showed to the praying Ninevites.(15) How inflexible was He at the tears of Hezekiah!(16) How ready to forgive Ahab, the husband of Jezebel, the blood of Naborb, when he deprecated His anger.(17) How prompt in pardoning David on his confession of his sin(18)--preferring, indeed, the sinner's repentance to his death, of course because of His gracious attribute of mercy.(19) Now, if Marcion's god has exhibited or proclaimed any such thing as this, I will allow him to be "the Father of mercies." Since, however, he ascribes to him this title only from the time he has been revealed, as if he were the father of mercies from the time only when he began to liberate the human race, then we on our side, too,(20) adopt the same precise date of his alleged revelation; but it is that we may deny him! It is then not competent to him to ascribe any quality to his god, whom indeed he only promulged by the fact of such an ascription; for only if it were previously evident that his god had an existence, could he be permitted to ascribe an attribute to him. The ascribed attribute is only an accident; but accidents(21) are preceded by the statement of the thing itself of which they are predicated, especially when another claims the attribute which is ascribed to him who has not been previously shown to exist. Our denial of his existence will be all the more peremptory, because of the fact that the attribute which is alleged in proof of it belongs to that God who has been already revealed. Therefore "the New Testament" will appertain to none other than Him who promised it--if not "its letter, yet its spirit;"(22) and herein will lie its newness. Indeed, He who had engraved its letter in stones is the same as He who had said of its spirit, "I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh."(23) Even if "the letter killeth, yet the Spirit giveth life;"(24) and both belong to Him who says: "I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal."(1) We have already made good the Creator's claim to this twofold character of judgment and goodness(2)--"killing in the letter" through the law, and "quickening in the Spirit" through the Gospel. Now these attributes, however different they be, cannot possibly make two gods; for they have already (in the prevenient dispensation of the Old Testament) been found to meet in One.(3) He alludes to Moses' veil, covered with which "his face could not be stedfastly seen by the children of Israel."(4) Since he did this to maintain the superiority of the glory of the New Testament, which is permanent in its glory, over that of the Old, "which was to be done away,"(5) this fact gives support to my belief which exalts the Gospel above the law and you must look well to it that it does not even more than this. For only there is superiority possible where was previously the thing over which superiority can be affirmed. But then he says, "But their minds were blinded"(6)--of the world; certainly not the Creator's mind, but the minds of the people which are in the world.(7) Of Israel he says, Even unto this day the same veil is upon their heart;"(8) showing that the veil which was on the face of Moses was a figure of the veil which is on the heart of the nation still; because even now Moses is not seen by them in heart, just as he was not then seen by them in eye. But what concern has Paul with the veil which still obscures Moses from their view, if the Christ of the Creator, whom Moses predicted, is not yet come? How are the hearts of the Jews represented as still covered and veiled, if the predictions of Moses relating to Christ, in whom it was their duty to believe through him, are as yet unfulfilled? What had the apostle of a strange Christ to complain of, if the Jews failed in understanding the mysterious announcements of their own God, unless the veil which was upon their hearts had reference to that blindness which concealed from their eyes the Christ of Moses? Then, again, the words which follow, But when it shall turn to the Lord, the evil shall be taken away,"(9) properly refer to the Jew, over whose gaze Moses' veil is spread, to the effect that, when he is turned to the faith of Christ, he will understand how Moses spoke of Christ. But how shall the veil of the Creator be taken away by the Christ of another god, whose mysteries the Creator could not possibly have veiled--unknown mysteries, as they were of an unknown god? So he says that "we now with open face" (meaning the candour of the heart, which in the Jews had been covered with a veil), "beholding Christ, are changed into the same image, from that glory" (wherewith Moses was transfigured as by the glory of the Lord) "to another glory."(10) By thus setting forth the glory which illumined the person of Moses from his interview with God, and the veil which concealed the same from the infirmity of the people, and by superinducing thereupon the revelation and the glory of the Spirit in the person of Christ--"even as," to use his words, "by the Spirit. of the Lord"(11)--he testifies that the whole MOsaic system(12) was a figure of Christ, of whom the Jews indeed were ignorant, but who is known to us Christians. We are quite aware that some passages are open to ambiguity, from the way in which they are read, or else from their punctuation, when there is room for these two causes of ambiguity. The latter method has been adopted by Marcion, by reading the passage which follows, "in whom the God of this world,"(13) as if it described the Creator as the God of this world, in order that he may, by these words, imply that there is another God for the other world. We, however, say that the passage ought to be punctuated with a comma after God, to this effect: "In whom God hath blinded the eyes of the unbelievers of this world."(14) "In whom" means the Jewish unbelievers, from some of whom the gospel is still hidden under Moses' veil. Now it is these whom God had threatened for "loving Him indeed with the lip, whilst their heart was far from Him,"(15) in these angry words: "Ye shall hear with your ears, and not understand; and see with your eyes, but not perceive;"(16) and, "If ye will not believe, ye shall not understand;"(17) and again, "I will take away the wisdom of their wise men, and bring to nought(1) the understanding of their prudent ones." But these words, of course, He did not pronounce against them for concealing the gospel of the unknown God. At any rate, if there is a God of this world,(2) He blinds the heart of the unbelievers of this world, because they have not of their own accord recognised His Christ, who ought to be understood from His Scriptures.(3) Content with my advantage, I can willingly refrain from noticing to any greater length(4) this point of ambiguous punctuation, so as not to give my adversary any advantage,(5) indeed, I might have wholly omitted the discussion. A simpler answer I shall find ready to hand in interpreting "the god of this world" of the devil, who once said, as the prophet describes him: "I will be like the Most High; I will exalt my throne in the clouds."(6) The whole superstition, indeed, of this world has got into his hands,(7) so that he blinds effectually the hearts of unbelievers, and of none more than the apostate Marcion's. Now he did not observe how much this clause of the sentence made against him: "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to (give) the light of the knowledge (of His glory) in the face of (Jesus) Christ."(8) Now who was it that said; "Let there be light?"(9) And who was it that said to Christ concerning giving light to the world: "I have set Thee as a light to the Gentiles"(10)--to them, that is, "who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death?"(11) (None else, surely, than He), to whom the Spirit in the Psalm answers, in His foresight of the future, saying, "The light of Thy countenance, O Lord, hath been displayed upon us."(12) Now the countenance (or person(13)) of the Lord here is Christ. Wherefore the apostle said above: Christ, who is the image of God."(14) Since Christ, then, is the person of the Creator, who said, "Let there be light," it follows that Christ and the apostles, and the gospel, and the veil, and Moses--nay, the whole of the dispensations--belong to the God who is the Creator of this world, according to the testimony of the clause (above adverted to), and certainly not to him who never said, "Let there be light." I here pass over discussion about another epistle, which we hold to have been written to the Ephesians, but the heretics to the Laodiceans. In it he tells(15) them to remember, that at the time when they were Gentiles they were without Christ, aliens from (the commonwealth of) Israel, without intercourse, without the covenants and any hope of promise, nay, without God, even in his own world,(16) as the Creator thereof. Since therefore he said, that the Gentiles were without God, whilst their god was the devil, not the Creator, it is clear that he must be understood to be the lord of this world, whom the Gentiles received as their god--not the Creator, of whom they were in ignorance. But how does it happen, that "the treasure which we have in these earthen vessels of ours"(17) should not be regarded as belonging to the God who owns the vessels? Now since God's glory is, that so great a treasure is contained in earthen vessels, and since these earthen vessels are of the Creator's make, it follows that the glory is the Creator's; nay, since these vessels of His smack so much of the excellency of the power of God, that power itself must be His also! Indeed, all these things have been consigned to the said "earthen vessels" for the very purpose that His excellence might be manifested forth. Henceforth, then, the rival god will have no claim to the glory, and consequently none to the power. Rather, dishonour and weakness will acrue to him, because the earthen vessels with which he had nothing to do have received all the excellency! Well, then, if it be in these very earthen vessels that he tells us we have to endure so great sufferings,(18) in which we bear about with us the very dying of God,(19) (Marcion's) god is really ungrateful and unjust, if he does not mean to restore this same I substance of ours at the resurrection, wherein so much has been endured in loyalty to him, in which Christ's very death is borne about, wherein too the excellency of his power is treasured.(20) For he gives prominence to the statement, "That the life also of Christ may be manifested in our body,"(21) as a contrast to the preceding, that His death is borne about in our body. Now of what life of Christ does he here speak? Of that which we are now living? Then how is it, that in the words which follow he exhorts us not to the things which are seen and are temporal, but to those which are not seen and are eternal(1)--in other words, not to the present, but to the future? But if it be of the future life of Christ that he speaks, intimating that it is to be made manifest in our body,(2) then he has clearly predicted the resurrection of the flesh.(3) He says, too, that "our outward man perishes,"(4) not meaning by an eternal perdition after death, but by labours and sufferings, in reference to which he previously said, "For which cause we will not faint."(5) Now, when he adds of "the inward man" also, that it "is renewed day by day," he demonstrates both issues here--the wasting away of the body by the wear and tear(6) of its trials, and the renewal of the soul(7) by its contemplation of the promises.
CHAP. XII.--THE ETERNAL HOME IN HEAVEN. BEAUTIFUL EXPOSITION BY TERTULLIAN OF THE APOSTLE'S CONSOLATORY TEACHING AGAINST THE FEAR OF DEATH, SO APT TO ARISE UNDER ANTI-CHRISTIAN OPPRESSION. THE JUDGMENT-SEAT OF CHRIST--THE IDEA, ANTI-MARCIONITE. PARADISE. JUDICIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF CHRIST WHICH ARE INCONSISTENT WITH THE HERETICAL VIEWS ABOUT HIM; THE APOSTLE'S SHARPNESS, OR SEVERITY, SHOWS HIM TO BE A FIT PREACHER OF THE CREATOR'S CHRIST.
As to the house of this our earthly dwelling-place, when he says that "we have an eternal home in heaven, not made with hands,"(8) he by no means would imply that, because it was built by the Creator's hand, it must perish in a perpetual dissolution after death.(9) He treats of this subject in order to offer consolation against the fear of death and the dread of this very dissolution, as is even more manifest from what follows, when he adds, that "in this tabernacle of our earthly body we do groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with the vesture which is from heaven,(10) if so be, that having been unclothed,(11) we shall not be found naked;" in other words, shall regain that of which we have been divested, even our body. And again he says: "We that are in this tabernacle do groan, not as if we were oppressed(12) with an unwillingness to be unclothed, but (we wish)to be clothed upon."(13) He here says expressly, what he touched but lightly(14) in his first epistle, where he wrote:) "The dead shall be raised Incorruptible (meaning those who had undergone mortality), "and we shall be changed"(whom God shall find to be yet in the flesh).(15) Both those shall be raised incorruptible, because they shall regain their body--and that a renewed one, from which shall come their incorruptibility; and these also shall, in the crisis of the last moment, and from their instantaneous death, whilst encountering the oppressions of anti-christ, undergo a change, obtaining therein not so much a divestiture of body as "a clothing upon" with the vesture which is from heaven.(16) So that whilst these shall put on over their (changed) body this, heavenly raiment, the dead also shall for their part(17) recover their body, over which they too have a supervesture to put on, even the incorruption of heaven;(18) because of these it was that he said: "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."(19) The one put on this (heavenly) apparel,(20) when they recover their bodies; the others put it on as a supervesture,(21) when they indeed hardly lose them (in the suddenness of their change). It was accordingly not without good reason that he described them as "not wishing indeed to be unclothed," but (rather as wanting) "to be clothed upon;"(22) in other words, as wishing not to undergo death, but to be surprised into life,(23) "that this moral (body) might be swallowed up of life,"(24) by being rescued from death in the supervesture of its changed state. This is why he shows us how much better it is for us not to be sorry, if we should be surprised by death, and tells us that we even hold of God "the earnest of His Spirit"(25) (pledged as it were thereby to have "the clothing upon," which is the object of our hope), and that "so long as we are in the flesh, we are absent from the Lord;"(26) moreover, that we ought on this account to prefer(27) "rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord,"(28) and so to be ready to meet even death with joy. In this view it is that he informs us how "we must all appear before the judgement-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according as he hath done either good or bad."(1) Since, however, there is then to be a retribution according to men's merits, how will any be able to reckon with(2) God? But by mentioning both the judgment-seat and the distinction between works good and bad, he sets before us a Judge who is to award both sentences,(3) and has thereby affirmed that all will have to be present at the tribunal in their bodies. For it will be impossible to pass sentence except on the body, for what has been done in the body. God would be unjust, if any one were not punished or else rewarded in that very condition,(4) wherein the merit was itself achieved. "If therefore any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old; things are passed away; behold, all things are become new;"(5) and so is accomplished the prophecy of Isaiah.(6) When also he (in a later passage) enjoins us "to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and blood"(7) (since this substance enters not the kingdom of Gods(8)); when, again, he "espouses the church as a chaste virgin to Christ,"(9) a spouse to a spouse in very deed,(10) an image cannot be combined and compared with what is opposed to the real nature the thing (with which it is compared). when he designates "false apostles, deceitful workers transforming themselves" into likenesses of himself,(11) of course by their hypocrisy, he charges them with the guilt of disorderly conversation, rather than of false doctrine.(12) The contrariety, therefore, was one of conduct, not of gods.(13) If "Satan himself, too, is transformed into an angel of light,"(14) such an assertion must not be used to the prejudice of the Creator. The Creator is not an angel, but God. Into a god of light, and not an angel of light, must Satan then have been said to be transformed, if he did not mean to call him "the angel," which both we and Marcion know him to be. Paradise is the title of a treatise of ours, in which is discussed all that the subject admits of.(15) I shall here simply wonder, in connection with this matter, whether a god who has no dispensation of any kind on earth could possibly have a paradise to call his own--without perchance availing himself of the paradise of the Creator, to use it as he does His world--much in the character of a mendicant.(16) And yet of the removal of a man from earth to heaven we have an instance afforded us by the Creator in Elijah.(17) But what will excite my surprise still more is the case (next supposed by Marcion), that a God so good and gracious, and so averse to blows and cruelty, should have suborned the angel Satan--not his own either, but the Creator's--"to buffet" the apostle,(18) and then to have refused his request, when thrice entreated to liberate him! It would seem, therefore, that Marcion's god imitates the Creator's conduct, who is an enemy to the proud, even "putting down the mighty from their seats." Is he then the same God as He who gave Satan power over the person of Job that his "strength might be made perfect in weakness?"(20) How is it that the censurer of the Galatians(21) still retains the very formula of the law: "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established?" How again is it that he threatens sinners "that he will not spare" them(23)--he, the preacher of a most gentle god? Yea, he even declares that "the Lord hath given to him the power of using sharpness in their presence!''(24) Deny now, O heretic, (at your cost,) that your god is an object to be feared, when his apostle was for making himself so formidable!
CHAP. XIII.--THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS. ST. PAUL CANNOT HELP USING PHRASES WHICH BESPEAK THE JUSTICE OF GOD, EVEN WHEN HE IS EULOGIZING THE MERCIES OF THE GOSPEL. MARCION PARTICULARLY HARD IN MUTILATION OF THIS EPISTLE.YET OUR AUTHOR ARGUES ON COMMON GROUND. THE JUDGMENT AT LAST WILL BE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE GOSPEL. THE JUSTIFIED BY FAITH EXHORTED TO HAVE PEACE WITH GOD. THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE OLD AND THE NEW DISPENSATIONS IN ONE AND THE SAME HAND.
Since my little work is approaching its termination,(1) I must treat but briefly the points which still occur, whilst those which have so often turned up must be put aside. I regret still to have to contend about the law--after I have so often proved that its replacement (by the gospel)(2) affords no argument for another god, predicted as it was indeed in Christ, and in the Creator's own plans(3) ordained for His Christ. (But I must revert to that discussion) so far as (the apostle leads me, for) this very epistle looks very much as if it abrogated(4) the law. We have, however, often shown before now that God is declared by the apostle to be a Judge; and that in the Judge is implied an Avenger; area in the Avenger, the Creator. And so in the passage where he says: "I am not ashamed of the gospel (of Christ): for it is the power of god unto salvtion to every one that beheveth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek; for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith,''(5) he undoubtedly ascribes both the gospel and salvation to Him whom (in accordance with our heretic's own distinction) I have called the just God, not the good one. It is He who removes (men) from confidence in the law to faith in the gospel--that is to say,(6) His own law and His own gospel. When, again, he declares that "the wrath (of God) is revealed from heaven against all un-godliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness,"(7) (I ask) the wrath of what God? Of the Creator certainly. The truth, therefore, will be His, whose is also the wrath, which has to be revealed to avenge the truth. Likewise, when adding, "We are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth,"(8) he both vindicated that wrath from which comes this judgment for the truth, and at the same time afforded another proof that the truth emanates from the same God whose wrath he attested, by witnessing to His judgment. Marcion's averment is quite a different matter, that(9) the Creator in anger avenges Himself on the truth of the rival god which had been detained in unrighteousness. But what serious gaps Marcion has made in this epistle especially, by withdrawing whole passages at his will, will be clear from the unmedullated text of our own copy.(10) It is enough for my purpose to accept in evidence of its truth what he has seen fit to leave unerased, strange instances as they are also of his negligence and blindness. If, then, God will judge the secrets of men--both · of those who have sinned in the law, and of those who have sinned without law (inasmuch as they who know not the law yet do by nature the things contained in the law)(11)--surely the God who shall judge is He to whom belong both the law, and that nature which is the rule(12) to them who know not the law. But how will He conduct this judgment? "According to my gospel," says (the apostle), "by (Jesus) Christ."(13) So that both the gospel and Christ must be His, to whom appertain the law and the nature which are to be vindicated by the gospel and Christ--even at that judgment of God which, as he previously said, was to be according to truth.(14) The wrath, therefore, which is to vindicate truth, can only be revealed from heaven by the God of wrath;(15) so that this sentence, which is quite in accordance with that previous one wherein the judgment is declared to be the Creator's,(16) cannot possibly be ascribed to another god who is not a judge, and is incapable of wrath. It is only consistent in Him amongst whose attributes are found the judgment and the wrath of which I am speaking, and to whom of necessity must also appertain the media whereby these attributes are to be carried into effect. even the gospel and Christ. Hence his invective against the transgressors of the law, who teach that men should not steal, and yet practise theft themselves.(17) (This invective he utters) in perfect homage(18) to the law of God, not as if he meant to ten sure the Creator Himself with having commanded(19) a fraud to be practised against the Egyptians to get their gold and silver at the very time when He was forbidding men to steal,(20)--adopting such methods as they are apt (shamelessly) to charge upon Him in other particulars also. Are we then to suppose(21) that the apostle abstained through fear from openly calumniating God, from whom notwithstanding He did not hesitate to withdraw men? Well, but he had gone so far in his censure of the Jews, as to point against them the denunciation of the prophet, "Through you the name of God is blasphemed (among the Gentiles).''(22) But how absurd, that he should himself blaspheme Him for blaspheming whom he upbraids them as evil-doers! He prefers even circumcision of heart to neglect of it in the flesh. Now it is quite within the purpose of the God of the law that circumcision should be that of the heart, not in the flesh; in the spirit, and not in the letter.(1) Since this is the circumcision recommended by Jeremiah: "Circumcise (yourselves to the Lord, and take away) the foreskins of your heart;"(2) and even of Moses: "Circumcise, therefore, the hardness of your heart,"(3)-the Spirit which circumcises the heart will proceed from Him who presented the letter also which clips(4) the desh; and "the Jew which is one inwardly" will be a subject of the self-same God as he also is who is "a Jew outwardly;"(5) because the apostle would have preferred not to have mentioned a Jew at all, unless he were a servant of the God of the Jews. It was once(6) the law; now it is "the righteousness of God which is by the faith of (Jesus) Christ."(7) What means this distinction? Has your god been subserving the interests of the Creator's dispensation, by affording time to Him and to His law? Is the "Now" in the hands of Him to whom belonged the "That"? Surely, then, the law was His, whose is now the righteousness of God. It is a distinction of dispensations, not of gods. He enjoins those who are justified by faith in Christ and not by the law to have peace with God.(8) With what God? Him whose enemies we have never, in any dispensation,(9) been? Or Him against whom we have rebelled, both in relation to His written law and His law of nature? Now, as peace is only possible towards Him with whom there once was war, we shall be both justified by Him, and to Him also will belong the Christ, in whom we are justified by faith, and through whom alone God's(10) enemies can ever be reduced to peace. "Moreover," says he, "the law entered, that the offence might abound."(11) And wherefore this? "In order," he says, "that (where sin abounded), grace might much more abound."(12) Whose grace, if not of that God from whom also came the law? Unless it be, forsooth, that(13) the Creator intercalated His law for the mere purpose of(14) producing some employment for the grace of a rival god, an enemy to Himself (I had almost said, a god unknown to Him), "that as sin had" in His own dispensation(15) "reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto (eternal) life by Jesus Christ,"(16) His own antagonist! For this (I suppose it was, that) the law of the Creator had "concluded all under sin,"(17) and had brought in "all the world as guilty (before God)," and had "stopped every mouth,(18) so that none could glory through it, in order that grace might be maintained to the glory of the Christ, not of the Creator, but of Marcion! I may here anticipate a remark about the substance of Christ, in the prospect of a question which will now turn up. For he says that "we are dead to the law."(19) It may be contended that Christ's body is indeed a body, but not exactly(20) flesh. Now, whatever may be the substance, since he mentions "the body of Christ,"(21) whom he immediately after states to have been "raised from the dead,"(22) none other body can be understood than that of the flesh,(23) in respect of which the law was called (the law) of death.(24) But, behold, he bears testimony to the law, and excuses it on the ground of sin: "What shall we say, therefore? Is the law sin? God forbid."(25) Fie on you, Marcion. "God forbid!" (See how) the apostle recoils from all impeachment of the law. I, however, have no acquaintance with sin except through the law.(26) But how high an encomium of the law (do we obtain) from this fact, that by it there comes to light the latent presence of sin!(1) It was not the law, therefore, which led me astray, but "sin, taking occasion by the commandment."(2) Why then do you, (O Marcion,) impute to the God of the law what His apostle dares not impute even to the law itself? Nay, he adds a climax: "The law is holy, and its commandment just and good."(3) Now if he thus reverences the Creator's law, I am at a loss to know how he can destroy the Creator Himself. Who can draw a distinction, and say that there are two gods, one just and the other when He ought to be believed to be both one and the other, whose commandment is both "just and good?" Then, again, when affirming the law to be "spiritual"(4) he thereby implies that it is prophetic, and that it is figurative. Now from even this circumstance I am bound to conclude that Christ was predicted by the law but figuratively, so that indeed He could not be recognised by all the Jews.
CHAP. XIV.--THE DIVINE POWER SHOWN IN CHRIST'S INCARNATION. MEANING OF ST. PAUL'S PHRASE. LIKENESS OF SINFUL FLESH. NO DOCETISM IN IT. RESURRECTION OF OUR REAL BODIES. A WIDE CHASM MADE IN THE EPISTLE BY MARCION'S ERASURE. WHEN THE JEWS ARE UPBRAIDED BY THE APOSTLE FOR THEIR MISCONDUCT TO GOD; INASMUCH AS THAT GOD WAS THE CREATOR, A PROOF IS IN FACT GIVEN THAT ST. PAUL'S GOD WAS THE CREATOR. THE PRECEPTS AT THE END OF THE EPISTLE, WHICH MARCION ALLOWED, SHOWN TO BE IN EXACT ACCORDANCE WITH THE CREATOR'S SCRIPTURES.
If the Father "sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh,"(5) it must not therefore be said that the flesh which He seemed to have was but a phantom. For he in a previous verse ascribed sin to the flesh, and made it out to be "the law of sin dwelling in his members," and "warring against the law of the mind."(6) On this account, therefore, (does he mean to say that) the Son was sent in the likeness of sinful flesh, that He might redeem this sinful flesh by a like substance, even a fleshly one, which bare a resemblance to sinful flesh, although it was itself free from sin. Now this will be the very perfection of divine power to effect the salvation (of man) in a nature like his own,(7) For it would be no great matter if the Spirit of God remedied the flesh; but when a flesh, which is the very copy(8) of the sinning substance itself flesh also-only without sin, (effects the remedy, then doubtless it is a great thing). The likeness, therefore, will have reference to the quality(9) of the sinfulness, and not to any falsity(10) of the substance. Because he would not have added the attribute "sinful,"(11) if he meant the "likeness" to be so predicated of the substance as to deny the verity thereof; in that case he would only have used the word "flesh," and omitted the "sinful." But inasmuch as he has put the two together, and said "sinful flesh," (or "flesh of sin,")(12) he has both affirmed the substance, that is, the flesh and referred the likeness to the fault of the substance, that is, to its sin. But even suppose(13) that the likeness was predicated of the substance, the truth of the said substance will not be thereby denied. Why then call the true substance like? Because it is indeed true, only not of a seed of like condition(14) with our own; but true still, as being of a nature 15 not really unlike ours.(16) And again, in contrary things there is no likeness. Thus the likeness of flesh would not be called spirit, because flesh is not susceptible of any likeness to spirit; but it would be called phantom, if it seemed to be that which it really was not. It is, however, called likeness, since it is what it seems to be. Now it is (what it seems to be), because it is on a par with the other thing (with which it is compared).(17) But a phantom, which is merely such and nothing else,(18) is not a likeness. The apostle, however, himself here comes to our aid; for, while explaining in what sense he would not have us "live in the flesh," although in the flesh--even by not living in the works of the flesh(1)--he shows that when he wrote the words, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,"(2) it was not with the view of condemning the substance (of the flesh), but the works thereof; and because it is possible for these not to be committed by us whilst we are still in the flesh, they will therefore be properly chargeable,(3) not on the substance of the flesh, but on its conduct. Likewise, if "the body indeed is dead because of sin" (from which statement we see that not the death of the soul is meant, but that of the body), "but the spirit is life because of righteousness,"(4) it follows that this life accrues to that which incurred death because of sin, that is, as we have just seen, the body. Now the body(5) is only restored to him who had lost it; so that the resurrection of the dead implies the resurrection of their bodies. He accordingly subjoins: "He that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies."(6) In these words he both affirmed the resurrection of the flesh (without which nothing can rightly be called(7) body, nor can anything be properly regarded as mortal), and proved the bodily substance of Christ; inasmuch as our own mortal bodies will be quickened in precisely the same way as He was raised; and that was in no other way than in the body. I have here a very wide gulf of expunged Scripture tO leap across;(8) however, I alight on the place where the apostle bears record of Israel "that they have a zeal of God"-their own God, of course--"but not according to knowledge. For," says he, "being ignorant of (the righteousness of) God, and going about to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God; for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."(9) Hereupon we shall be confronted with an argument of the heretic, that the Jews were ignorant of the superior God,(10) since, in opposition to him, they set up their own righteousness--that is, the righteousness of their law--not receiving Christ, the end (or finisher) of the law. But how then is it that he bears testimony to their zeal for their own God, if it is not in respect of the same God that he upbraids them for their ignorance? They were affected indeed with zeal for God, but it was not an intelligent zeal: they were, in fact, ignorant of Him, because they were ignorant of His dispensations by Christ, who was to bring about the consummation of the law; and in this way did they maintain their own righteousness in opposition to Him. But so does the Creator Himself testify to their ignorance concerning Him: "Israel hath not known me; my people have not understood me;"(11) and as to their preferring the establishment of their own righteousness, (the Creator again describes them as) "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men;"(12) moreover, as "having gathered themselves together against the Lord and against His Christ"(13)--from ignorance of Him, of course. Now nothing can be expounded of another god which is applicable to the Creator; otherwise the apostle would not have been just in reproaching the Jews with ignorance in respect of a god of whom they knew nothing. For where had been their sin, if they only maintained the righteousness of their own God against one of whom they were ignorant? But he exclaims: "O the depth of the riches and the wisdom of God; how unsearchable also are His ways!"(14) Whence this outburst of feeling? Surely from the recollection of the Scriptures, which he had been previously turning over, as well as from his contemplation of the mysteries which he had been setting forth above, in relation to the faith of Christ coming from the law.(15) If Marcion had an object in his erasures,(16) why does his apostle utter such an exclamation, because his god has no riches for him to contemplate? So poor and indigent was he, that he created nothing, predicted nothing--in short, possessed nothing; for it was into the world of another God that he descended. The truth is, the Creator's resources and riches, which once had been hidden, were now disclosed. For so had He promised: "I will give to them treasures which have been hidden, and which men have not seen will I open to them."(17) Hence, then, came the exclamation, "O the depth of the riches and the wisdom of God!" For His treasures were now opening out. This is the purport of what Isaiah said, and of (the apostle's own) subsequent quotation of the self-same passage, of the prophet: "Who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counsellor? Who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed to him again?"(1) Now, (Marcion,) since you have expunged so much from the Scriptures, why did you retain these words, as if they too were not the Creator's words? But come now, let us see without mistake(2) the precepts of your new god: "Abhor that which is evil, and cleave to that which is good."(3) Well, is the precept different in the Creator's teaching? "Take away the evil from you, depart from it, and be doing good."(4) Then again: "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love."(5) Now is not this of the same import as: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self?"(6) (Again, your apostle says:) "Rejoicing in hope;"(7) that is, of God. So says the Creator's Psalmist: "It is better to hope in the Lord, than to hope even in princes."(8) "Patient in tribulation."(9) You have (this in) the Psalm: "The Lord hear thee in the day of tribulation."(10) "Bless, and curse not,"(11)(says your apostle.) But what better teacher of this will you find than Him who created all things, and blessed them? "Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits."(12) For against such a disposition Isaiah pronounces a woe.(13) "Recompense to no man evil for evil."(14) (Like unto which is the Creator's precept:) "Thou shalt not remember thy brother's evil against thee."(15) (Again:) "Avenge not yourselves; "(16) for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord."(17) "Live peaceably with all men."(18) The retaliation of the law, therefore, permitted not retribution for an injury; it rather repressed any attempt thereat by the fear of a recompense. Very properly, then, did he sum up the entire teaching of the Creator in this precept of His: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."(19) Now, if this is the recapitulation of the law from the very law itself, I am at a loss to know who is the God of the law. I fear He must be Marcion's god (after all).(20) If also the gospel of Christ is fulfilled in this same precept, but not the Creator's Christ, what is the use of our contending any longer whether Christ did or did not say, "I am not come to destroy the law, but to fulfil it? "(21) In vain has (our man of) Pontus laboured to deny this statement.(22) If the gospel has not fulfilled the law, then all I can say is,(23) the law has fulfilled the gospel. But it is well that in a later verse he threatens us with "the judgment-seat of Christ,"--the Judge, of course, and the Avenger, and therefore the Creator's (Christ). This Creator, too, however much he may preach up another god, he certainly sets forth for us as a Being to be served,(24) if he holds Him thus up as an object to be feared.
CHAP. XV.--THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS. THE SHORTER EPISTLES PUNGENT IN SENSE AND VERY VALUABLE.ST. PAUL UPBRAIDS THE JEWS FOR THE DEATH FIRST OF THEIR PROPHETS AND THEN OF CHRIST. THIS A PRESUMPTION THAT BOTH CHRIST AND THE PROPHETS PERTAINED TO THE SAME GOD. THE LAW OF NATURE, WHICH IS IN FACT THE CREATOR'S DISCIPLINE, AND THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST BOTH ENJOIN CHASTITY. THE RESURRECTION PROVIDED FOR IN THE OLD TESTAMENT BY CHRIST. MAN'S COMPOUND NATURE.
I shall not be sorry to bestow attention on the shorter epistles also. Even in brief works there is much pungency?(25) The Jews had slain their prophets.(26) I may ask, What has this to do with the apostle of the rival god, one so amiable withal, who could hardly be said to condemn even the failings of his own people; and who, moreover, has himself some hand in making away with the same prophets whom he is destroying? What injury did Israel commit against him in slaying those whom he too has reprobated, since he was the first to pass a hostile sentence on them? But Israel sinned against their own God. He upbraided their iniquity to whom the injured God pertains; and certainly he is anything but the adversary of the injured Deity. Else he would not have burdened them with the charge of killing even the Lord, in the words, "Who both killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets," although (the pronoun) their own be an addition of the heretics.(1) Now, what was there so very acrimonious(2) in their killing Christ the proclaimer of the new god, after they had put to death also the prophets of their own god? The fact, however, of their having slain the Lord and His servants, is put as a case of climax.(3) Now, if it were the Christ of one god and the prophets of another god whom they slew, he would certainly have placed the impious crimes on the same level, instead of mentioning them in the way of a climax; but they did not admit of being put on the same level: the climax, therefore, was only possible(4) by the sin having been in fact committed against one and the same Lord in the two respective circumstances.(5) To one and the same Lord, then, belonged Christ and the prophets. What that "sanctification of ours" is, which he declares to be "the will of God," you may discover from the opposite conduct which he forbids. That we should "abstain from fornication," not from marriage; that every one "should know how to possess his vessel in honour."(6) In what way? "Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles."(7) Concupiscence, however, is not ascribed to marriage even among the Gentiles, but to extravagant, unnatural, and enormous sins.(8) The law of nature(9) is opposed to luxury as well as to grossness and uncleanness;(10) it does not forbid connubial intercourse, but concupiscence; and it takes care of(11) our vessel by the honourable estate of matrimony. This passage (of the apostle) I would treat in such a way as to maintain the superiority of the other and higher sanctity, preferring continence and virginity to marriage, but by no means prohibiting the latter. For my hostility is directed against" those who are for destroying the God of marriage, not those who follow after chastity. He says that those who "remain unto the coming of Christ," along with "the dead in Christ, shall rise first," being "caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air."(13) I find it was in their foresight of all this, that the heavenly intelligences gazed with admiration on "the Jerusalem which is above,"(14) and by the mouth of Isaiah said long ago: "Who are these that fly as clouds, and as doves with their young ones, unto me?"(15) Now, as Christ has prepared for us this ascension into heaven, He must be the Christ of whom Amos(16) spoke: "It is He who builds His ascent up to the heavens,"(17) even for Himself and His people. Now, from whom shall I expect (the fulfil-merit of) all this, except from Him whom I have heard give the promise thereof? What "spirit" does he forbid us to "quench," and what "prophesyings" to "despise?"(18) Not the Creator's spirit, nor the Creator's prophesyings, Marcion of course replies. For he has already quenched and despised the thing which he destroys, and is unable to forbid what he has despised.(19) It is then incumbent on Marcion now to display in his church that spirit of his god which must not be quenched, and the prophesyings which must not be despised. And since he has made such a display as he thinks fit, let him know that we shall challenge it whatever it may be to the rule(20) of the grace and power of the Spirit and the prophets--namely, to foretell the future, to reveal the secrets of the heart, and to explain mysteries. And when he shall have failed to produce and give proof of any such criterion, we will then on our side bring out both the Spirit and the prophecies of the Creator, which utter predictions according to His will. Thus it will be clearly seen of what the apostle spoke, even of those things which were to happen in the church of his God; and as long as He endures, so long also does His Spirit work, and so long are His promises repeated.(21) Come now, you who deny the salvation of the flesh, and who, whenever there occurs the specific mention of body in a case of this sort,(22) interpret it as meaning anything rather than the substance of the flesh, (tell me) how is it that the apostle has given certain distinct names to all (our faculties), and has comprised them all in one prayer for their safety, desiring that our "spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord and Saviour (Jesus) Christ?"(1) Now he has here pro-pounded the soul and the body as two several and distinct things.(2) For although the soul has a kind of body of a quality of its own,(3) just as the spirit has, yet as the soul and the body are distinctly named, the soul has its own peculiar appellation, not requiring the common designation of body. This is left for "the flesh," which having no proper name (in this passage), necessarily makes use of the common designation. Indeed, I see no other substance in man, after spirit and soul, to which the term body can be applied except "the flesh." This, therefore, I understand to be meant by the word "body "--as often as the latter is not specifically named. Much more do I so understand it in the present passage, where the flesh(4) is expressly called by the name "body."
CHAP. XVI.--THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS. AN ABSURD ERASURE OF MARCION; ITS OBJECT TRANSPARENT. THE FINAL JUDGMENT ON THE HEATHEN AS WELL AS THE JEWS COULD NOT BE ADMINISTERED. BY MARCION'S CHRIST. THE MAN OF SIN--WHAT? INCONSISTENCY OF MARCION'S VIEW. THE ANTICHRIST. THE GREAT EVENTS OF THE LAST APOSTASY WITHIN THE PROVIDENCE AND INTENTION OF THE CREATOR, WHOSE ARE ALL THINGS FROM THE BEGINNING. SIMILARITY OF THE PAULINE PRECEPTS WITH THOSE OF THE CREATOR.
We are obliged from time to time to recur to certain topics in order to affirm truths which are connected with them We repeat then here, that as the Lord is by the apostle proclaimed s as the awarder of both weal and woe,(6) He must be either the Creator, or (as Marcion would be loth to admit) One like the Creator--"with whom it is a righteous thing to recompense tribulation to them who afflict us, and to ourselves, who are afflicted, rest, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed as coming from heaven with the angels of His might and in flaming fire."(7) The heretic, however, has erased the flaming fire, no doubt that he might extinguish all traces herein of our own God. But the folly of the obliteration is clearly seen. For as the apostle declares that the Lord will come "to take vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel, who," he says, "shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power"(8) --it follows that, as He comes to inflict punishment, He must require "the flaming fire." Thus on this consideration too we must, notwithstanding Marcion's opposition, conclude that Christ belongs to a God who kindles the flames(9) (of vengeance), and therefore to the Creator, inasmuch as He takes vengeance on such as know not the Lord, that is, on the heathen. For he has mentioned separately "those who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,"(10) whether they be sinners among Christians or among Jews. Now, to inflict punishment on the heathen, who very likely have never heard of the Gospel, is not the function of that God who is naturally unknown, and who is revealed nowhere else than in the Gospel, and therefore cannot be known by all men.(11) The Creator, however, ought to be known even by (the light of) nature, for He may be understood from His works, and may thereby become the object of a more widely spread knowledge. To Him, therefore, does it appertain to punish such as know not God, for none ought to be ignorant of Him. In the (apostle's) phrase, "From the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power,"(12)he uses the words of Isaiah who for the express reason makes the self-same Lord "arise to shake terribly the earth."(13) Well, but who is the man of sin, the son of perdition," who must first be revealed before the Lord comes; "who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; who is to sit in the temple of God, and boast himself as being God?"(1) According indeed to our view, he is Antichrist; as it is taught us in both the ancient and the new prophecies,(2) and especially by the Apostle John, who says that "already many false prophets are gone out into the world," the fore-runners of Antichrist, who deny that Christ is come in the flesh,(3) and do not acknowledge(4) Jesus (to be the Christ), meaning in God the Creator. According, however, to Marcion's view, it is really hard to know whether He might not be (after all) the Creator's Christ; because according to him He is not yet come. But whichsoever of the two it is, I want to know why he comes "in all power, and with lying signs and wonders?"(5) "Because," he says, "they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved; for which cause God shall send them an instinct of delusion(6) (to believe a lie), that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."(7) If therefore he be Antichrist, (as we hold), and comes according to the Creator's purpose, it must be God the Creator who sends him to fasten in their error those who did not believe the truth, that they might be saved; His likewise must be the truth and the salvation, who avenges (the contempt of) them by sending error as their substitute(8)--that is, the Creator, to whom that very wrath is a fitting attribute, which deceives with a lie those who are not captivated with truth. If, however, he is not Antichrist, as we suppose (him to be) then He is the Christ of the Creator, as Marcion will have it. In this case how happens it that he(9) can suborn the Creator's Christ to avenge his truth? But should he after all agree with us, that Antichrist is here meant, I must then likewise ask how it is that he finds Satan, an angel of the Creator, necessary to his purpose? Why, too, should Antichrist be slain by Him, whilst commissioned by the Creator to execute the function(10) of inspiring men with their love of untruth? In short, it is incontestable that the emissary,(11) and the truth, and the salvation belong to Him to whom also appertain the wrath, and the jealousy,(12) and "the sending of the strong delusion,"(13) on those who despise and mock, as well as upon those who are ignorant of Him; and therefore even Marcion will now have to come down a step, and concede to us that his god is "a jealous god." (This being then an unquestionable position, I ask) which God has the greater fight to be angry? He, as I suppose, who from the beginning of all things has given to man, as primary witnesses for the knowledge of Himself, nature in her (manifold) works, kindly providences, plagues,(14) and indications (of His divinity),(15) but who in spite of all this evidence has not been acknowledged; or he who has been brought out to view(16) once for all in one only copy of the gospel--and even that without any sure authority--which actually makes no secret of proclaiming another god? Now He who has the right of inflicting the vengeance, has also sole claim to that which occasions(17) the vengeance, I mean the Gospel; (in other words,) both the truth and (its accompanying) salvation. The charge, that "if any would not work, neither should he eat,"(18) is in strict accordance with the precept of Him who ordered that "the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn should not be muzzled."(19)
CHAP.XVII.--THE EPISTLE TO THE LAODICEANS. THE PROPER DESIGNATION IS TO THE EPHESIANS. RECAPITULATION OF ALL THINGS IN CHRIST FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE CREATION. NO ROOM FOR MARCION'S CHRIST HERE. NUMEROUS PARALLELS BETWEEN THIS EPISTLE AND PASSAGES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT. THE PRINCE OF THE POWER OF THE AIR, AND THE GOD OF THIS WORLD--WHO CREATION AND REGENERATION THE WORK OF ONE GOD. HOW CHRIST HAS MADE THE LAW OBSOLETE. A VAIN ERASURE OF MARCION'S. THE APOSTLES AS WELL AS THE PROPHETS FROM THE CREATOR.
We have it on the true tradition(20) of the Church, that this epistle was sent to the Ephesians, not to the Laodiceans. Marcion, however, was very desirous of giving it the new rifle (of Laodicean),(1) as if he were extremely accurate in investigating such a point. But of what consequence are the titles, since in writing to a certain church the apostle did in fact write to all? It is certain that, whoever they were to whom he wrote,(2) he declared Him to be God in Christ with whom all things agree which are predicted.(3) Now, to what god will most suitably belong all those things which relate to "that good pleasure, which God hath purposed in the mystery of His will, that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might recapitulate" (if I may so say, according to the exact meaning of the Greek word(4)) "all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth,"(5) but to Him whose are all things from their beginning, yea the beginning itself too; from whom issue the times and the dispensation of the fulness of times, according to which all things up to the very first are gathered up in Christ? What beginning, however, has the other god; that is to say, how can anything proceed from him, who has no work to show? And if there be no beginning, how can there be times? If no times, what fulness of times can there be? And if no fulness, what dispensation? Indeed, what has he ever done on earth, that any long dispensation of times to be fulfilled can be put to his account, for the accomplishment of all things in Christ, even of things in heaven? Nor can we possibly suppose that any things whatever have been at any time done in heaven by any other God than Him by whom, as all men allow, all things have been done on earth. Now, if it is impossible for all these things from the beginning to be reckoned to any other God than the Creator, who will believe that an alien god has recapitulated them in an alien Christ, instead of their own proper Author in His own Christ? If, again, they belong to the Creator, they must needs be separate from the other god; and if separate, then opposed to him. But then how can opposites be gathered together into him by whom they are in short destroyed? Again, what Christ do the following words announce, when the apostle says: "That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ?"(6) Now who could have first trusted--i.e. previously trusted(7) --in God, before His advent, except the Jews to whom Christ was previously announced, from the beginning? He who was thus foretold, was also foretrusted. Hence the apostle refers the statement to himself, that is, to the Jews, in order that he may draw a distinction with respect to the Gentiles, (when he goes on to say:) "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel (of your salvation); in whom ye believed, and were sealed with His Holy Spirit of promise."(8) Of what promise? That which was made through Joel: "In the last days will I pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh,"(9) that is, on all nations. Therefore the Spirit and the Gospel will be found in the Christ, who was foretrusted, because foretold. Again, "the Father of glory"(10) is He whose Christ, when ascending to heaven, is celebrated as "the King of Glory" in the Psalm: "Who is this King of Glory? the Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory."(11) From Him also is besought "the spirit of wisdom,"" at whose disposal is enumerated that sevenfold distribution of the spirit of grace by Isaiah.(13) He likewise will grant "the enlightenment of the eyes of the understanding,"(14) who has also enriched our natural eyes with light; to whom, moreover, the blindness of the people is offensive: "And who is blind, but my servants?... yea, the servants of God have become blind."(15) In His gift, too, are "the riches (of the glory) of His inheritance in the saints,"(16) who promised such an inheritance in the call of the Gentiles: "Ask of me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance."(17) It was He who "wrought in Christ His mighty power, by raising Him from the dead, and setting Him at His own right hand, and putting all things under His feet"(18)--even the same who said: "Sit Thou on my right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool."(19) For in another passage the Spirit says to the Father concerning the Son: "Thou hast put all things under His feet."(20) Now, if from all these facts which are found in the Creator there is yet to be deduced(21) another god and another Christ, let us go in quest of the Creator. I suppose, forsooth,(22) we find Him, when he speaks of such as "were dead in trespasses and sins, wherein they had walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, who worketh in the children of disobedience."(1) But Marcion must not here interpret the world as meaning the God of the world? For a creature bears no resemblance to the Creator; the thing made, none to its Maker; the world, none to God. He, moreover, who is the Prince of the power of the ages must not be thought to be called the prince of the power of the air; for He who is chief over the higher powers derives no title from the lower powers, although these, too, may be ascribed to Him. Nor, again, can He possibly seem to be the instigator(3) of that unbelief which He Himself had rather to endure at the hand of the Jews and the Gentiles alike. We may therefore simply conclude that(4) these designations are unsuited to the Creator. There is another being to whom they are more applicable --and the apostle knew very well who that was. Who then is he? Undoubtedly he who has raised up "children of disobedience" against the Creator Himself ever since he took possession of that "air" of His; even as the prophet makes him say: "I will set my throne above the stars; ... will go up above the clouds; I will be like the Most High."(5) This must mean the devil, whom in another passage (since such will they there have the apostle's meaning to be)we shall recognize in the appellation the god of this world.(6) For he has filled the whole world with the lying pretence of his own divinity. To be sure,(7) if he had not existed, we might then possibly have applied these descriptions to the Creator. But the apostle, too, had lived in Judaism; and when he parenthetically observed of the sins (of that period of his life), "in which also we all had our conversation in times past,"(8) he must not be understood to indicate that the Creator was the lord of sinful men, and the prince of this air; but as meaning that in his Judaism he had been one of the children of disobedience, having the devil as his instigator--when he persecuted the church and the Christ of the Creator. Therefore he says: "We also were the children of wrath," but "by nature."(9) Let the heretic, however, not contend that, because the Creator called the Jews children, therefore the Creator is the lord of wrath.(10) For when (the apostle) says," We were by nature the children of wrath," inasmuch as the Jews were not the Creator's children by nature, but by the election of their fathers, he (must have) referred their being children of wrath to nature, and not to the Creator, adding this at lasts" even as others,"(11) who, of course, were not children of God. It is manifest that sins, and lusts of the flesh, and unbelief, and anger, are ascribed to the common nature of all mankind, the devil [however leading that nature astray,(12) which he has already infected with the implanted germ of sin. "We," says he, "are His workmanship, created in Christ."(13) It is one thing to make (as a workman), another thing to create. But he assigns both to One. Man is the workmanship of the Creator. He therefore who made man (at first), created him also in Christ. As touching the substance of nature, He "made" him; as touching the work of grace, He "created" him. Look also at what follows in connection with these words: "Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision by that which has the name of circumcision in the flesh made by the hand--that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise,(14) having no hope, and without God in the world."(15) Now, without what God and without what Christ were these Gentiles? Surely, without Him to whom the commonwealth(16) of Israel belonged, and the covenants and the promise. "But now in Christ," says he, "ye who were sometimes far off are made nigh by His blood."(17) From whom were they far off before? From the privileges) whereof he speaks above, even tom the Christ of the Creator, from the commonwealth of Israel, from the covenants, from the hope of the promise, from God Himself. Since this is the case, the Gentiles are consequently now in Christ made nigh to these (blessings), from which they were once far off. But if we are in Christ brought so very nigh to the commonwealth of Israel, which comprises the religion of the divine Creator, and to the covenants and to the promise, yea to their very God Himself, it is quite ridiculous (to suppose that) the Christ of the other god has brought us to this proximity to the Creator from afar. The apostle had in mind that it had been predicted concerning the call of the Gentiles from their distant alienation in words like these: "They who were far off from me have come to my righteousness."(1) For the Creator's righteousness no less than His peace was announced in Christ, as we have often shown already. Therefore he says: "He is our peace, who hath made both one"(2)--that is, the Jewish nation and the Gentile world. What is near, and what was far off now that "the middle wall has been broken down" of their "enmity," (are made one) "in His flesh."(3) But Marcion erased the pronoun His, that he might make the enmity refer to flesh, as if (the apostle spoke) of a carnal enmity, instead of the enmity which was a rival to Christ.(4) And thus you have (as I have said elsewhere) exhibited the stupidity of Pontus, rather than the adroitness of a Marrucinian,(5) for you here deny him flesh to whom in the verse above you allowed blood! Since, however, He has made the law obsolete(6) by His own precepts, even by Himself fulfilling the law (for superfluous is, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," when He says, "Thou shalt not look on a woman to lust after her;" superfluous also is, "Thou shalt do no murder," when He says, "Thou shalt not speak evil of thy neighbour,") it is impossible to make an adversary of the law out of one who so completely promotes it.(7) "For to create(8) in Himself of twain," for He who had made is also the same who creates (just as we have found it stated above: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus"),(9) "one new man, making peace" (really new, and really man--no phantom--but new, and newly born of a virgin by the Spirit of God), "that He might reconcile both unto God"(10) (even the God whom both races had offended--both Jew and Gentile), "in one body," says he, "having in it slain the enmity by the cross."(11) Thus we find from this passage also, that there was in Christ a fleshly body, such as was able to endure the cross. "When, therefore, He came and preached peace to them that were near and to them which were afar off," we both obtained "access to the Father," being "now no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God" (even of Him from whom, as we have shown above, we were aliens, and placed far off), "built upon the foundation of the apostles"(12)--(the apostle added), "and the prophets;" these words, however, the heretic erased, forgetting that the Lord had set in His Church not only apostles, but prophets also. He feared, no doubt, that our building was to stand in Christ upon the foundation of the ancient prophets,(13) since the apostle himself never fails to build us up everywhere with (the words of) the prophets. For whence did he learn to call Christ "the chief corner-stone,"(14) but from the figure given him in the Psalm: "The stone which the builders rejected is become the head (stone) of the corner?"(15)
CHAP. XVIII.--ANOTHER FOOLISH ERASURE OF MARCION'S EXPOSED. CERTAIN FIGURATIVE EXPRESSIONS OF THE APOSTLE, SUGGESTED BY THE LANGUAGE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT. COLLATION OF MANY PASSAGES OF THIS EPISTLE, WITH PRECEPTS AND STATEMENTS IN THE PENTATEUCH, THE PSALMS, AND THE PROPHETS. ALL ALIKE TEACH US THE WILL AND PURPOSE OF THE CREATOR.
As our heretic is so fond of his pruning-knife, I do not wonder when syllables are expunged by his hand, seeing that entire pages are usually the matter on which he practises his effacing process. The apostle declares that to himself, "less than the least of all saints, was the grace given" of enlightening all men as to "what was the fellowship of the mystery, which during the ages had been hid in God, who created all things."(16) The heretic erased the preposition in, and made the clause run thus: ("what is the fellowship of the mystery) which hath for ages been hidden from the God who created all things."(17) The falsification, however, is flagrantly(18) absurd. For the apostle goes on to infer (from his own statement): "in order that unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might become known through the church the manifold wisdom of God."(19) Whose principalities and powers does he mean? If the Creator's, how does it come to pass that such a God as He could have meant His wisdom to be displayed to the principalities and powers, but not to Himself? For surely no principalities could possibly have understood anything without their sovereign Lord. Or if (the apostle) did not mention God in this passage, on the ground that He (as their chief) is Himself reckoned among these (principalities), then he would have plainly said that the mystery had been hidden from the principalities and powers of Him who had created all things, including Him amongst them. But if he states that it was hidden from them, he must needs be understood(1) as having meant that it was manifest to Him. From God, therefore, the mystery was not hidden; but it was hidden in God, the Creator of all things, from His principalities and powers. For "who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been His counsellor?"(2) Caught in this trap, the heretic probably changed the passage, with the view of saying that his god wished to make known to his principalities and powers the fellowship of his own mystery, of which God, who created all things, had been ignorant. But what was the use of his obtruding this ignorance of the Creator, who was a stranger to the superior god,(4) and far enough removed from him, when even his own servants had known nothing about him? To the Creator, however, the future was well known. Then why was not that also known to Him, which had to be revealed beneath His heaven, and on His earth? From this, therefore, there arises a confirmation of what we have already laid down. For since the Creator was sure to know, some time or other, that hidden mystery of the superior god, even on the supposition that the true reading was (as Marcion has it)--"hidden from the God who created all things"--he ought then to have expressed the conclusion thus: "in order that the manifold wisdom of God might be made known to Him, and then to the principalities and powers of God, whosoever He might be, with whom the Creator was destined to share their knowledge." So palpable is the erasure in this passage, when thus read, consistently with its own true bearing. I, on my part, now wish to engage with you in a discussion on the allegorical expressions of the apostle. What figures of speech could the novel god have found in the prophets (fit for himself)? "He led captivity captive," says the apostle.(4) With what arms? In what conflicts? From the devastation of what Country? From the overthrow of what city? What women, what children, what princes did the Conqueror throw into chains? For when by David Christ is sung as "girded with His sword upon His thigh,"(5) or by Isaiah as "taking away the spoils of Samaria and the power of Damascus,"(6) you make Him out to be(7) really and truly a warrior confest to the eye.(8) Learn then now, that His is a spiritual armour and warfare, since you have already discovered that the captivity is spiritual, in order that you may further learn that this also belongs to Him, even because the apostle derived the mention of the captivity from the same prophets as suggested to him his precepts likewise: "Putting away lying," (says he,) "speak every man truth with his neighbour;"(9) and again, using the very words in which the Psalm(10) expresses his meaning, (he says,) "Be ye angry, and sin not;"(11) "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath."(12) "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness;"(13) for (in the Psalm it is written,) "With the holy man thou shalt be holy, and with the perverse thou shalt be perverse;"(14) and, "Thou shalt put away evil from among you."(15) Again, "Go ye out from the midst of them; touch not the unclean thing; separate yourselves, ye that bear the vessels of the Lord."(16) (The apostle says further:) "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess,"(17)--a precept which is suggested by the passage (of the prophet), where the seducers of the consecrated (Nazarites) to drunkenness are rebuked: "Ye gave wine to my holy ones to drink."(18) This prohibition from drink was given also to the high priest Aaron and his sons, "when they went into the holy place."(19) The command, to "sing to the Lord with psalms and hymns,"(20) comes suitably from him who knew that those who "drank wine with drums and psalteries" were blamed by God.(21) Now, when I find to what God belong these precepts, whether in their germ or their development, I have no difficulty in knowing to whom the apostle also belongs. But he declares that "wives ought to be in subjection to their husbands:"(1) what reason does he give for this? "Because," says he, "the husband is the head of the wife."(2) Pray tell me, Marcion, does your god build up the authority of his law on the work of the Creator? This, however, is a comparative trifle; for he actually derives from the same source the condition of his Christ and his Church; for he says: "even as Christ is the head of the Church;"(3) and again, in like manner: "He who loveth his wife, loveth his own flesh, even as Christ loved the Church."(4) You see how your Christ and your Church are put in comparison with the work of the Creator. How much honour is given to the flesh in the name of the church! "No man," says the apostle, "ever yet hated his own flesh" (except, of course, Marcion alone), "but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord doth the Church."(5) But you are the only man that hates his flesh, for you rob it of its resurrection. It will be only right that you should hate the Church also, because it is loved by Christ on the same principle.(6) Yea, Christ loved the flesh even as the Church. For no man will love the picture of his wife without taking care of it, and honouring it and crowning it. The likeness partakes with the reality in the privileged honour. I shall now endeavour, from my point of view,(7) to prove that the same God is (the God) of the man(8) and of Christ, of the woman and of the Church, of the flesh and the spirit, by the apostle's help who applies the Creator's injunction, and adds even a comment on it: "For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, (and shall be joined unto his wife), and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery."(9) In passing,(10) (I would say that) it is enough for me that the works of the Creator are great mysteries(11) in the estimation of the apostle, although they are so vilely esteemed by the heretics. "But I am speaking," says he, "of Christ and the Church."(12) This he says in explanation of the mystery, not for its disruption. He shows us that the mystery was prefigured by Him who is also the author of the mystery. Now what is Marcion's opinion? The Creator could not possibly have furnished figures to an unknown god, or, if a known one, an adversary to Himself. The superior god, in fact, ought to have borrowed nothing from the inferior; he was bound rather to annihilate Him. "Children should obey their parents."(13) Now, although Marcion has erased (the next clause), "which is the first commandment with promise,"(14) still the law says plainly, "Honour thy father and thy mother."(15) Again, (the apostle writes:) "Parents, bring up your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord."(16) For you have heard how it was said to them of old time: "Ye shall relate these things to your children; and your children in like manner to their children."(17) Of what use are two gods to me, when the discipline is but one? If there must be two, I mean to follow Him who was the first to teach the lesson. But as our struggle lies against "the rulers of this world,"(18) what a host of Creator Gods there must be!(19) For why should I not insist upon this point here, that he ought to have mentioned but one "ruler of this world," if he meant only the Creator to be the being to whom belonged all the powers which he previously mentioned? Again, when in the preceding verse he bids us "put on the whole armour of God, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil,"(20) does he not show that all the things which he mentions after the devil's name really belong to the devil--"the principalities and the powers, and the tillers of the darkness of this world,"(21) which we also ascribe to the devil's authority? Else, if "the devil" means the Creator, who will be the devil in the Creator's dispensation?(22) As there are two gods, must there also be two devils, and a plurality of powers and rulers of this world? But how is the Creator both a devil and a god at the same time, when the devil is not at once both god and devil? For either they are both of them gods, if both of them are devils; or else He who is God is not also devil, as neither is he god who is the devil. I want to know indeed by what perversion(23) the word devil is at all applicable to the Creator. Perhaps he perverted some purpose of the superior god--conduct such as He experienced Himself from the archangel, who lied indeed for the purpose. For He did not forbid (our first parents) a taste of the miserable tree,(24) from any apprehension that they would become gods; His prohibition was meant to prevent their dying after the transgression. But "the spiritual wickedness"(1) did not signify the Creator, because of the apostle's additional description, "in heavenly places;"(2) for the apostle was quite aware that "spiritual wickedness" had been at work in heavenly places, when angels were entrapped into sin by the daughters of men.(3) But how happened it that (the apostle) resorted to ambiguous descriptions, and I know not what obscure enigmas, for the purpose of disparaging(4) the Creator, when he displayed to the Church such constancy and plainness of speech in "making known the mystery of the gospel for which he was an ambassador in bonds," owing to his liberty in preaching--and actually requested (the Ephesians) to pray to God that this "open-mouthed utterance" might be continued to him?(5)
CHAP. XIX.--THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS. TIME THE CRITERION OF TRUTH AND HERESY. APPLICATION OF THE CANON. THE IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD EXPLAINED. PRE-EXISTENCE OF OUR CHRIST IN THE CREATOR'S ANCIENT DISPENSATIONS. WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE FULNESS OF CHRIST. THE EPICUREAN CHARACTER OF MARCION'S GOD. THE CATHOLIC TRUTH IN OPPOSITION THERETO. THE LAW IS TO CHRIST WHAT THE SHADOW IS TO THE SUBSTANCE.
I am accustomed in my prescription against all heresies, to fix my compendious criterion(6) (of truth) in the testimony of time; claiming priority therein as our rule, and alleging lateness to be the characteristic of every heresy. This shall now be proved even by the apostle, when he says: "For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is unto all the world."(7) For if, even at that time, the tradition of the gospel had spread everywhere, how much more now! Now, if it is our gospel which has spread everywhere, rather than any heretical gospel, much less Marcion's, which only dates from the reign of Antoninus,(8) then ours will be the gospel of the apostles. But should Marcion's gospel succeed in filling the whole world, it would not even in that case be entitled to the character of apostolic. For this quality, it will be evident, can only belong to that gospel which was the first to fill the world; in other words, to the gospel of that God who of old declared this of its promulgation: "Their sound is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world."(9) He calls Christ "the image of the invisible God."(10) We in like manner say that the Father of Christ is invisible, for we know that it was the Son who was seen in ancient times (whenever any appearance was vouchsafed to men in the name of God) as the image of (the Father) Himself. He must not be regarded, however, as making any difference between a visible and an invisible God; because long before he wrote this we find a description of our God to this effect: "No man can see the Lord, and live."(11) If Christ is not "the first-begotten before every creature,"(12)as that "Word of God by whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made;"(13) if "all things were" not "in Him created, whether in heaven or on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers;" if "all things were" not "created by Him and for Him" (for these truths Marcion ought not to allow concerning Him), then the apostle could not have so positively laid it down, that "He is before all."(14) For how is He before all, if He is not before all things?(15) How, again, is He before all things, if He is not "the first-born of every creature"--if He is not the Word of the Creator?(16) Now how will he be proved to have been before all things, who appeared after all things? Who can tell whether he had a prior existence, when he has found no proof that he had any existence at all? In what way also could it have "pleased (the Father) that in Him should all fulness dwell?"(17) For, to begin with, what fulness is that which is not comprised of the constituents which Marcion has removed from it,--even those that were "created in Christ, whether in heaven or on earth," whether angels or men? which is not made of the things that are visible and invisible? which consists not of thrones and dominions and principalities and powers? If, on the other hand,(18) our false apostles and Judaizing gospellers(19) have introduced all these things out of their own stores, and Martian has applied them to constitute the fulness of his own god, (this hypothesis, absurd though it be, alone would justify him;) for how, on any other supposition,(1) could the rival and the destroyer of the Creator have been willing that His fulness should dwell in his Christ? To whom, again, does He "reconcile all things by Himself, making peace by the blood of His cross,"(2) but to Him whom those very things had altogether(3) offended, against whom they had rebelled by transgression, (but) to whom they had at last returned?(4) Conciliated they might have been to a strange god; but reconciled they could not possibly have been to any other than their own God. Accordingly, ourselves "who were sometime alienated and enemies in our mind by wicked works"(5) does He reconcile to the Creator, against whom we had committed offence--worshipping the creature to the prejudice of the Creator. As, however, he says elsewhere,(6) that the Church is the body of Christ, so here also (the apostle) declares that he "fills up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in his flesh for His body's sake, which is the Church."(7) But you must not on this account suppose that on every mention of His body the term is only a metaphor, instead of meaning real flesh. For he says above that we are "reconciled in His body through death;"(8) meaning, of course, that He died in that body wherein death was possible through the flesh: (therefore he adds,) not through the Church(9) (per ecclesiam), but expressly far the sake of the Church (proper ecclesiam), exchanging body for body--one of flesh for a spiritual one. When, again, he warns them to "beware of subtle words and philosophy," as being "a vain deceit," such as is "after the rudiments of the world" (not understanding thereby the mundane fabric of sky and earth, but worldly learning, and "the tradition of men," subtle in their speech and their philosophy),(10) it would be tedious, and the proper subject of a separate work, to show how in this sentence (of the apostle's) all heresies are condemned, on the ground of their consisting of the resources of subtle speech and the rules of philosophy. But (once for all) let Marcion know that the principle term of his creed comes from the school of Epicurus, implying that the Lord is stupid and indifferent;(11) wherefore he refuses to say that He is an object to be feared. Moreover, from the porch of the Stoics he brings out matter, and places it on a par with the Divine Creator.(12) He also denies the resurrection of the flesh,--a truth which none of the schools of philosophy agreed together to hold.(13) But how remote is our (Catholic) verity from the artifices of this heretic, when it dreads to arouse the anger of God, and firmly believes that He produced all things out of nothing, and promises to us a restoration from the grave of the same flesh (that died) and holds without a blush that Christ was born of the virgin's womb! At this, philosophers, and heretics, and the very heathen, laugh and jeer. For "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise"(14)--that God, no doubt, who in reference to this very dispensation of His threatened long before that He would "destroy the wisdom of the wise."(15) Thanks to this simplicity of truth, so opposed to the subtlety and vain deceit of philosophy, we cannot possibly have any relish for such perverse opinions. Then, if God "quickens us together with Christ, forgiving us our trespasses,"(16) we cannot suppose that sins are forgiven by Him against whom, as having been all along unknown, they could not have been committed. Now tell me, Marcion, what is your opinion of the apostle's language, when he says, "Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath, which is a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ?"(17) We do not now treat of the law, further than (to remark) that the apostle here teaches clearly how it has been abolished, even by passing from shadow to substance--that is, from figurative types to the reality, which is Christ. The shadow, therefore, is His to whom belongs the body also; in other words, the law is His, and so is Christ. If you separate the law and Christ, assigning one to one god and the other to another, it is the same as if you were to attempt to separate the shadow from the body of which it is the shadow. Manifestly Christ has relation to the law, if the body has to its shadow. But when he blames those who alleged visions of angels as their authority for saying that men must abstain from meats--"you must not touch, you must not taste"-in a voluntary humility, (at the same time) "vainly puffed up in the fleshly mind, and not holding the Head,"(1) (the apostle) does not in these terms attack the law or Moses, as if it was at the suggestion of superstitious angels that he had enacted his prohibition of sundry aliments. For Moses had evidently received the law from God. When, therefore, he speaks of their "following the commandments and doctrines of men,"(2) he refers to the conduct of those persons who "held not the Head," even Him in whom all things are gathered together;(3) for they are all recalled to Christ, and concentrated in Him as their initiating principle(4)--even the meats and drinks which were indifferent in their nature. All the rest of his precepts,(5) as we have shown sufficiently, when treating of them as they occurred in another epistle,(6) emanated from the Creator, who, while predicting that "old things were to pass away," and that He would "make all things new,"(7) commanded men "to break up fresh ground for themselves,"(8) and thereby taught them even then to put off the old man and put on the new.
CHAP.XX.--THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. THE VARIANCES AMONGST THE PREACHERS OF CHRIST NO ARGUMENT THAT THERE WAS MORE THAN ONE ONLY CHRIST. ST. PAUL'S PHRASES--FORM OF A SERVANT, LIKENESS, AND FASHION OF A MAN--NO SANCTION OF DOCETISM. NO ANTITHESIS (SUCH AS MARCION ALLEGED) IN THE GOD OF JUDAISM AND THE GOD OF THE GOSPEL DEDUCIBLE FROM CERTAIN CONTRASTS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISTLE.A PARALLEL WITH A PASSAGE IN GENESIS.THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY, AND THE CHANGE THEREOF.
When (the apostle) mentions the several motives of those who were preaching the gospel, how that some, "waxing confident by his bonds, were more fearless in speaking the word," while others "preached Christ even out of envy and strife, and again others out of good-will" many also "out of love," and certain "out of contention," and some "in rivalry to himself,"(9) he had a favourable opportunity, no doubt,(10) of taxing what they preached with a diversity of doctrine, as if it were no less than this which caused so great a variance in their tempers. But while he exposes these tempers as the sole cause of the diversity, he avoids inculpating the regular mysteries of the faith,(11) and affirms that there is, notwithstanding, but one Christ and His one God, whatever motives men had in preaching Him. Therefore, says he, it matters not to me "whether it be in pretence or in truth that Christ is preached,"(12)because one Christ alone was announced, whether in their "pretentious" or their "truthful" faith. For it was to the faithfulness of their preaching that he applied the word truth, not to the rightness of the rule itself, because there was indeed but one rule; whereas the conduct of the preachers varied: in some of them it was true, i. e. single-minded, while in others it was sophisticated with over-much learning. This being the case, it is manifest that that Christ was the subject of their preaching who was always the theme of the prophets. Now, if it were a completely different Christ that was being introduced by the apostle, the novelty of the thing would have produced a diversity (in belief.). For there would not have been wanting, in spite of the novel teaching,(13) men to interpret the preached gospel of the Creator's Christ, since the majority of persons everywhere now-a-days are of our way of thinking, rather than on the heretical side. So that the apostle would not in such a passage as the present one have refrained from remarking and censuring the diversity. Since, however, there is no blame of a diversity, there is no proof of a novelty. Of course(14) the Marcionites suppose that they have the apostle on their side in the following passage in the matter of Christ's substance--that in Him there was nothing but a phantom of flesh. For he says of Christ, that, "being in the form of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God;(15) but emptied(16) Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant," not the reality, "and was made in the likeness of man," not a man, "and was found in fashion as a man,"(17) not in his substance, that is to say, his flesh; just as if to a substance there did not accrue both form and likeness and fashion. It is well for us that in another passage (the apostle) calls Christ "the image of the invisible God."(1) For will it not follow with equal force from that passage, that Christ is not truly God, because the apostle places Him in the image of God, if, (as Marcion contends,) He is not truly man because of His having taken on Him the form or image of a man? For in both cases the true substance will have to be excluded, if image (or "fashion") and likeness and form shall be claimed for a phantom. But since he is truly God, as the Son of the Father, in His fashion and image, He has been already by the force of this conclusion determined to be truly man, as the Son of man, "found in the fashion "and image" of a man." For when he propounded(2) Him as thus "found" in the manners of a man, he in fact affirmed Him to be most certainly human. For what is found, manifestly possesses existence. Therefore, as He was found to be God by His mighty power, so was He found to be man by reason of His flesh, because the apostle could not have pronounced Him to have "become obedient unto death,"(4) if He had not been constituted of a mortal substance. Still more plainly does this appear from the apostle's additional words, "even the death of the cross."(5) For he could hardly mean this to be a climax(6) to the human suffering, to extol the virtue(7) of His obedience, if he had known it all to be the imaginary process of a phantom, which rather eluded the cross than experienced it, and which displayed no virtue(8) in the suffering, but only illusion. But "those things which he had once accounted gain," and which he enumerates in the preceding verse--"trust in the flesh," the sign of "circumcision," his origin as "an Hebrew of the Hebrews," his descent from "the tribe of Benjamin," his dignity in the honours of the Pharisee(9)--he now reckons to be only "loss" to himself;(10) (in other words,) it was not the God of the Jews, but their stupid obduracy, which he repudiates. These are also the things "which he counts but dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ"(11) (but by no means for the rejection of God the Creator); "whilst he has not his own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through Him," i.e. Christ, "the righteousness which is of God."(12) Then, say you, according to this distinction the law did not proceed from the God of Christ. Subtle enough! But here is something still more subtle for you. For when (the apostle) says, "Not (the righteousness) which is of the law, but that which is through Him," he would not have used the phrase through Him of any other than Him to whom the law belonged. "Our conversation," says he, "is in heaven."(13) I here recognise the Creator's ancient promise to Abraham: "I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven."(14) Therefore "one star differeth from another star in glory."(15) If, again, Christ in His advent from heaven "shall change the body of our humiliation, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body,"(16) it follows that this body of ours shall rise again, which is now in a state of humiliation in its sufferings and according to the law of mortality drops into the ground. But how shall it be changed, if it shall have no real existence? If, however, this is only said of those who shall be found in the flesh(17) at the advent of God, and who shall have to be changed,"(18) what shall they do who will rise first? They will have no substance from which to undergo a change. But he says (elsewhere), "We shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord (in the air)."(19) Then, if we are to be caught up alone with them, surely we shall likewise be changed together with them.
CHAP. XXI.--THE EPISTLE TO PHILEMON. THIS EPISTLE NOT MUTILATED. MARCION'S INCONSISTENCY IN ACCEPTING THIS, AND REJECTING THREE OTHER EPISTLES ADDRESSED TO INDIVIDUALS. CONCLUSIONS. TERTULLIAN VINDICATES THE SYMMETRY AND DELIBERATE PURPOSE OF HIS WORK AGAINST MARCION.
To this epistle alone did its brevity avail to protect it against the falsifying hands of Marcion. I wonder, however, when he received (into his Apostolicon) this letter which was written but to one man, that he rejected the two epistles to Timothy and the one to Titus, which all treat of ecclesiastical discipline. His aim, was, I suppose, to carry out his interpolating process even to the number of (St. Paul's) epistles. And now, reader,(1) I beg you to remember that we have here adduced proofs out of the apostle, in support of the subjects which we previously(2) had to handle, and that we have now brought to a close(3) the topics which we deferred to this (portion of our) work. (This favour I request of you,) that you may not think that any repetition here has been superfluous, for we have only fulfilled our former engagement to you; nor look with suspicion on any postponement there, where we merely set forth the essential points (of the argument).(4) If you carefully examine the entire work, you will acquit us of either having been redundant here, or diffident there, in your own honest judgment.(5)
I. (Soul and Spirit, cap. xv. and notes 1 and 2, p. 463.)
Dr. Holmes, in the learned note which follows, affords me a valuable addition to my scanty remarks on this subject in former volumes. See (Vol. I. pp. 387,532,) references to the great work of Professor Delitzsch, in notes on Irenaeus. In Vol. II. p. 102, I have also mentioned M. Heard's work, on the Tripartite Nature of Man. With reference to the disagreement of the learned on this great matter, let me ask is it not less real than apparent? The dichotomy to which Tertullian objected, and the trichotomy which Dr. Holmes makes a name of "the triple nature," are terms which rather suggest a process of "dividing asunder of soul and spirit," and which involve an ambiguity that confuses the inquiry. Now, while the gravest objections may be imagined, or even demonstrated, against a process which seems to destroy the unity and individuality of a Man, does not every theologian accept the analytical formula of the apostle and recognize the bodily, the animal and the spiritual in the life of man? If so is there not fundamental agreement as to I. Thess. v. 53, and difference only, relatively, as to functions and processes, or as to the way in which truth on these three points ought to be stated? On this subject there are good remarks in the Speaker's Commentary on the text aforesaid, but the exhaustive work of Delitzsch deserves study.
Man's whole nature in Christ, seems to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit's suffusion of man's spirit this rules and governs the psychic nature and through it the body.
II. (The entire work, cap. xxi. p. 474.)
He who has followed Tertullian through the mazes in which Marcion, in spite of shifts and turnings innumerable, has been hunted down, and defeated, must recognize the great work performed by this author in behalf of Christian Orthodoxy. It seems to have been the plan of Christ's watchful care over His Church, that, in the earliest stages of its existence the enemy should be allowed to display his utmost malice and to bring out all his forces against Truth. Thus, before the meeting of Church-councils the language of faith had grown up, and dear views and precise statements of doctrine had been committed to the idioms of human thought. But, the labours of Tertullian are not confined to these diverse purposes. With all the faults of his acute and forensic mind, how powerfully he illuminates the Scriptures and glorifies them as containing the whole system of the Faith. How rich are his quotations, and how penetrating his conceptions of their uses. Besides all this, what an introduction he gives us to the modes of thought which were becoming familiar in the West, and which were convening the Latin tongue to new uses, and making it capable of expressing Augustine's mind and so of creating new domains of Learning among the nations of Europe.
If I have treated tenderly the reputation of this great Master, in my notes upon his Marcion, it is with a twofold purpose.(1.) It seems to me due to truth that his name should be less associated with his deplorable lapse than with his long and faithful services to the Church, and(2.) that the student should thus follow his career with a pleasure and with a confidence the lack of which perpetually annoys us when we give the first place to the Montanist and not to the Catholic. Let this be our spirit in accompanying him into his fresh campaigns against "the grievous wolves" foreseen by St. Paul with tears. Acts xx. 29, 30.
But as our Author invokes a careful examination of his "entire work," let the student recur to Irenaeus (Vol. I. p. 352, etc.) and observe how formidable, from the beginning, was the irreligion of Marcion. His doctrines did truly "eat like a canker," assailing the Scriptures by mutilations and corruptions of the text itself. No marvel that Tertullian shows him no quarter, though we must often regret the forensic violence of his retort. As to the Dualism which, through Marcion, thus threatened the first article of the Creed, consult the valuable remarks of the Enqc. Britannica, ("Mithras"). Mithras became known to the Romans circa B.C. 70, and his worship flourished under Trajan and his successors. An able writer remarks that it was natural "Dualism should develop itself out of primitive Zoroastrianism. The human mind has ever been struck with a certain antagonism of which it has sought to discover the cause. Evil seems most easily accounted for by the supposition of an evil Person; and the continuance of an equal struggle, without advantage to either side, seems to imply the equality of that evil Person with the author of all good. Thus Dualism had its birth. Many came to believe in the existence of two co-eternal and co-equal Persons, one good and the other evil, between whom there has been from all eternity a perpetual conflict, and between whom the same conflict must continue to rage through all coming time."