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In a combat of boxers and gladiators, generally speaking, it is not because a man is strong that he gains the victory, or loses it because he is not strong, but because he who is vanquished was a man of no strength; and indeed this very conqueror, when afterwards matched against a really powerful man, actually retires crest-fallen from the contest. In precisely the same way, heresies derive such strength as they have from the infirmities of individuals — having no strength whenever they encounter a really powerful faith.
Wherein Tertullian proves, with respect to St. Paul’s epistles, what he had proved in the preceding book with respect to St. Luke’s gospel. Far from being at variance, they were in perfect unison with the writings of the Old Testament, and therefore testified that the Creator was the only God, and that the Lord Jesus was his Christ. As in the preceding books, Tertullian supports his argument with profound reasoning, and many happy illustrations of Holy Scripture.
In Which Tertullian Pursues His Argument. Jesus is the Christ of the Creator. He Derives His Proofs from St. Luke’s Gospel; That Being the Only Historical Portion of the New Testament Partially Accepted by Marcion. This Book May Also Be Regarded as a Commentary on St. Luke. It Gives Remarkable Proof of Tertullian’s Grasp of Scripture, and Proves that The Old Testament is Not Contrary to the New. It Also Abounds in Striking Expositions of Scriptural Passages, Embracing Profound Views of Revelation, in Connection with the Nature of Man.
As it is, you invite us to dinner, but do not point out your house; you assert a kingdom, but show us no royal state. Can it be that your Christ promises a kingdom of heaven, without having a heaven; as He displayed Himself man, without having flesh? O what a phantom from first to last! O hollow pretence of a mighty promise!
I find, then, that man was by God constituted free, master of his own will and power; indicating the presence of God’s image and likeness in him by nothing so well as by this constitution of his nature. For it was not by his face, and by the ligaments of his body, though they were so varied in his human nature, that he expressed his likeness to the form of God; but he showed his stamp in that essence which he derived from God Himself (that is, the spiritual, which answered to the form of God), and in the freedom and power of his will.
What new god is there, except a false one? Not even Saturn will be proved to be a god by all his ancient fame, because it was a novel pretence which some time or other produced even him, when it first gave him godship. On the contrary, living and perfect Deity has its origin neither in novelty nor in antiquity, but in its own true nature. Eternity has no time. It is itself all time. It acts; it cannot then suffer. It cannot be born, therefore it lacks age. God, if old, forfeits the eternity that is to come; if new, the eternity which is past. The newness bears witness to a beginning; the oldness threatens an end. God, moreover, is as independent of beginning and end as He is of time, which is only the arbiter and measurer of a beginning and an end.