The Five Books Against Marcion by Tertullian
Chapter XXX.--Parables of the Mustard-Seed, and of the Leaven Transition to the Solemn Exclusion Which Will Ensue When the Master of the House Has Shut the Door. This Judicial Exclusion Will Be Administered by Christ, Who is Shown Thereby to Possess the A
When the question was again raised concerning a cure performed on the Sabbath-day, how did He discuss it: |Doth not each of you on the Sabbath loose his ass or his ox from the stall, and lead him away to watering?| When, therefore, He did a work according to the condition prescribed by the law, He affirmed, instead of breaking, the law, which commanded that no work should be done, except what might be done for any living being; and if for any one, then how much more for a human life? In the case of the parables, it is allowed that I everywhere require a congruity. |The kingdom of God,| says He, |is like a grain of mustard-seed which a man took and cast into his garden.| Who must be understood as meant by the man? Surely Christ, because (although Marcion's) he was called |the Son of man.| He received from the Father the seed of the kingdom, that is, the word of the gospel, and sowed it in his garden -- in the world, of course -- in man at the present day, for instance. Now, whereas it is said, |in his garden,| but neither the world nor man is his property, but the Creator's, therefore He who sowed seed in His own ground is shown to be the Creator. Else, if, to evade this snare, they should choose to transfer the person of the man from Christ to any person who receives the seed of the kingdom and sows it in the garden of his own heart, not even this meaning would suit any other than the Creator. For how happens it, if the kingdom belong to the most lenient god, that it is closely followed up by a fervent judgment, the severity of which brings weeping? With regard, indeed, to the following similitude, I have my fears lest it should somehow presage the kingdom of the rival god! For He compared it, not to the unleavened bread which the Creator is more familiar with, but to leaven. Now this is a capital conjecture for men who are begging for arguments. I must, however, on my side, dispel one fond conceit by another, and contend with even leaven is suitable for the kingdom of the Creator, because after it comes the oven, or, if you please, the furnace of hell. How often has He already displayed Himself as a Judge, and in the Judge the Creator? How often, indeed, has He repelled, and in the repulse condemned? In the present passage, for instance, He says, |When once the master of the house is risen up;| but in what sense except that in which Isaiah said, |When He ariseth to shake terribly the earth?| |And hath shut to the door,| thereby shutting out the wicked, of course; and when these knock, He will answer, |I know you not whence ye are;| and when they recount how |they have eaten and drunk in His presence,| He will further say to them, |Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.| But where? Outside, no doubt, when they shall have been excluded with the door shut on them by Him. There will therefore be punishment inflicted by Him who excludes for punishment, when they shall behold the righteous entering the kingdom of God, but themselves detained without. By whom detained outside? If by the Creator, who shall be within receiving the righteous into the kingdom? The good God. What, therefore, is the Creator about, that He should detain outside for punishment those whom His adversary shut out, when He ought rather to have kindly received them, if they must come into His hands, for the greater irritation of His rival? But when about to exclude the wicked, he must, of course, either be aware that the Creator would detain them for punishment, or not be aware. Consequently either the wicked will be detained by the Creator against the will of the excluder, in which case he will be inferior to the Creator, submitting to Him unwillingly; or else, if the process is carried out with his will, then he himself has judicially determined its execution; and then he who is the very originator of the Creator's infamy, will not prove to be one whit better than the Creator. Now, if these ideas be incompatible with reason -- of one being supposed to punish, and the other to liberate -- then to one only power will appertain both the judgment and the kingdom and while they both belong to one, He who executeth judgment can be none else than the Christ of the Creator.