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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Chapter I.--Examination of the Antitheses of Marcion, Bringing Them to the Test of Marcion's Own Gospel. Certain True Antitheses in the Dispensations of the Old and the New Testaments. These Variations Quite Compatible with One and the Same God, Who Order

The Five Books Against Marcion by Tertullian

Chapter I.--Examination of the Antitheses of Marcion, Bringing Them to the Test of Marcion's Own Gospel. Certain True Antitheses in the Dispensations of the Old and the New Testaments. These Variations Quite Compatible with One and the Same God, Who Order

Every opinion and the whole scheme of the impious and sacrilegious Marcion we now bring to the test of that very Gospel which, by his process of interpolation, he has made his own. To encourage a belief of this Gospel he has actually devised for it a sort of dower, in a work composed of contrary statements set in opposition, thence entitled Antitheses, and compiled with a view to such a severance of the law from the gospel as should divide the Deity into two, nay, diverse, gods -- one for each Instrument, or Testament as it is more usual to call it; that by such means he might also patronize belief in |the Gospel according to the Antitheses.| These, however, I would have attacked in special combat, hand to hand; that is to say, I would have encountered singly the several devices of the Pontic heretic, if it were not much more convenient to refute them in and with that very gospel to which they contribute their support. Although it is so easy to meet them at once with a peremptory demurrer, yet, in order that I may both make them admissible in argument, and account them valid expressions of opinion, and even contend that they make for our side, that so there may be all the redder shame for the blindness of their author, we have now drawn out some antitheses of our own in opposition to Marcion. And indeed I do allow that one order did run its course in the old dispensation under the Creator, and that another is on its way in the new under Christ. I do not deny that there is a difference in the language of their documents, in their precepts of virtue, and in their teachings of the law; but yet all this diversity is consistent with one and the same God, even Him by whom it was arranged and also foretold. Long ago did Isaiah declare that |out of Sion should go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem| -- some other law, that is, and another word. In short, says he, |He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people;| meaning not those of the Jewish people only, but of the nations which are judged by the new law of the gospel and the new word of the apostles, and are amongst themselves rebuked of their old error as soon as they have believed. And as the result of this, |they beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears (which are a kind of hunting instruments) into pruning-hooks;| that is to say, minds, which once were fierce and cruel, are changed by them into good dispositions productive of good fruit. And again: |Hearken unto me, hearken unto me, my people, and ye kings, give ear unto me; for a law shall proceed from me, and my judgment for a light to the nations;| wherefore He had determined and decreed that the nations also were to be enlightened by the law and the word of the gospel. This will be that law which (according to David also) is unblameable, because |perfect, converting the soul| from idols unto God. This likewise will be the word concerning which the same Isaiah says, |For the Lord will make a decisive word in the land.| Because the New Testament is compendiously short, and freed from the minute and perplexing burdens of the law. But why enlarge, when the Creator by the same prophet foretells the renovation more manifestly and clearly than the light itself? |Remember not the former things, neither consider the things of old| (the old things have passed away, and new things are arising). |Behold, I will do new things, which shall now spring forth.| So by Jeremiah: |Break up for yourselves new pastures, and sow not among thorns, and circumcise yourselves in the foreskin of your heart.| And in another passage: |Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Jacob, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I arrested their dispensation, in order to bring them out of the land of Egypt.| He thus shows that the ancient covenant is temporary only, when He indicates its change; also when He promises that it shall be followed by an eternal one. For by Isaiah He says: |Hear me, and ye shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you,| adding |the sure mercies of David,| in order that He might show that that covenant was to run its course in Christ. That He was of the family of David, according to the genealogy of Mary, He declared in a figurative way even by the rod which was to proceed out of the stem of Jesse. Forasmuch then as he said, that from the Creator there would come other laws, and other words, and new dispensations of covenants, indicating also that the very sacrifices were to receive higher offices, and that amongst all nations, by Malachi when he says: |I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord, neither will I accept your sacrifices at your hands. For from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place a sacrifice is offered unto my name, even a pure offering| -- meaning simple prayer from a pure conscience, -- it is of necessity that every change which comes as the result of innovation, introduces a diversity in those things of which the change is made, from which diversity arises also a contrariety. For as there is nothing, after it has undergone a change, which does not become different, so there is nothing different which is not contrary. Of that very thing, therefore, there will be predicated a contrariety in consequence of its diversity, to which there accrued a change of condition after an innovation. He who brought about the change, the same instituted the diversity also; He who foretold the innovation, the same announced beforehand the contrariety likewise. Why, in your interpretation, do you impute a difference in the state of things to a difference of powers? Why do you wrest to the Creator's prejudice those examples from which you draw your antitheses, when you may recognise them all in His sensations and affections? |I will wound,| He says, |and I will heal;| |I will kill,| He says again, |and I will make alive| -- even the same |who createth evil and maketh peace;| from which you are used even to censure Him with the imputation of fickleness and inconstancy, as if He forbade what He commanded, and commanded what He forbade. Why, then, have you not reckoned up the Antitheses also which occur in the natural works of the Creator, who is for ever contrary to Himself? You have not been able, unless I am misinformed, to recognise the fact, that the world, at all events, even amongst your people of Pontus, is made up of a diversity of elements which are hostile to one another. It was therefore your bounden duty first to have determined that the god of the light was one being, and the god of darkness was another, in such wise that you might have been able to have distinctly asserted one of them to be the god of the law and the other the god of the gospel. It is, however, the settled conviction already of my mind from manifest proofs, that, as His works and plans exist in the way of Antitheses, so also by the same rule exist the mysteries of His religion.
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