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Sermon Podcast | Audio | Video : Christian Books : Chapter XXV.--God's Dealings with Adam at the Fall, and with Cain After His Crime, Admirably Explained and Defended.

The Five Books Against Marcion by Tertullian

Chapter XXV.--God's Dealings with Adam at the Fall, and with Cain After His Crime, Admirably Explained and Defended.

It is now high time that I should, in order to meet all objections of this kind, proceed to the explanation and clearing up of the other trifles, weak points, and inconsistencies, as you deemed them. God calls out to Adam, Where art thou? as if ignorant where he was; and when he alleged that the shame of his nakedness was the cause (of his hiding himself), He inquired whether he had eaten of the tree, as if He were in doubt. By no means; God was neither uncertain about the commission of the sin, nor ignorant of Adam's whereabouts. It was certainly proper to summon the offender, who was concealing himself from the consciousness of his sin, and to bring him forth into the presence of his Lord, not merely by the calling out of his name, but with a home-thrust blow at the sin which he had at that moment committed. For the question ought not to be read in a merely interrogative tone, Where art thou, Adam? but with an impressive and earnest voice, and with an air of imputation, Oh, Adam, where art thou? -- as much as to intimate: thou art no longer here, thou art in perdition -- so that the voice is the utterance of One who is at once rebuking and sorrowing. But of course some part of paradise had escaped the eye of Him who holds the universe in His hand as if it were a bird's nest, and to whom heaven is a throne and earth a footstool; so that He could not see, before He summoned him forth, where Adam was, both while lurking and when eating of the forbidden fruit! The wolf or the paltry thief escapes not the notice of the keeper of your vineyard or your garden! And God, I suppose, with His keener vision, from on high was unable to miss the sight of aught which lay beneath Him! Foolish heretic, who treat with scorn so fine an argument of God's greatness and man's instruction! God put the question with an appearance of uncertainty, in order that even here He might prove man to be the subject of a free will in the alternative of either a denial or a confession, and give to him the opportunity of freely acknowledging his transgression, and, so far, of lightening it. In like manner He inquires of Cain where his brother was, just as if He had not yet heard the blood of Abel crying from the ground, in order that he too might have the opportunity from the same power of the will of spontaneously denying, and to this degree aggravating, his crime; and that thus there might be supplied to us examples of confessing sins rather than of denying them: so that even then was initiated the evangelic doctrine, |By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.| Now, although Adam was by reason of his condition under law subject to death, yet was hope preserved to him by the Lord's saying, |Behold, Adam is become as one of us;| that is, in consequence of the future taking of the man into the divine nature. Then what follows? |And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, (and eat), and live for ever.| Inserting thus the particle of present time, |And now,| He shows that He had made for a time, and at present, a prolongation of man's life. Therefore He did not actually curse Adam and Eve, for they were candidates for restoration, and they had been relieved by confession. Cain, however, He not only cursed; but when he wished to atone for his sin by death, He even prohibited his dying, so that he had to bear the load of this prohibition in addition to his crime. This, then, will prove to be the ignorance of our God, which was simulated on this account, that delinquent man should not be unaware of what he ought to do. Coming down to the case of Sodom and Gomorrha, he says: |I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.| Well, was He in this instance also uncertain through ignorance, and desiring to know? Or was this a necessary tone of utterance, as expressive of a minatory and not a dubious sense, under the colour of an inquiry? If you make merry at God's |going down,| as if He could not except by the descent have accomplished His judgment, take care that you do not strike your own God with as hard a blow. For He also came down to accomplish what He wished.
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