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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : 5. Five Books in Reply to Marcion.

Fathers Of The Third Century Tertullian Appendix by Unknown

5. Five Books in Reply to Marcion.

(Author Uncertain.)

Book I. -- Of the Divine Unity, and the Resurrection of the Flesh.

Part I. -- Of the Divine Unity.

After the Evil One's impiety

Profound, and his life-grudging mind, entrapped

Seducèd men with empty hope, it laid

Them bare, by impious suasion to false trust

5 In him, -- not with impunity, indeed;

For he forthwith, as guilty of the deed,

And author rash of such a wickedness,

Received deserved maledictions. Thus,

Thereafter, maddened, he, most desperate foe,

10 Did more assail and instigate men's minds

In darkness sunk. He taught them to forget

The Lord, and leave sure hope, and idols vain

Follow, and shape themselves a crowd of gods,

Lots, auguries, false names of stars, the show

15 Of being able to o'errule the births

Of embryos by inspecting entrails, and

Expecting things to come, by hardihood

Of dreadful magic's renegadoes led,

Wondering at a mass of feigned lore;

20 And he impelled them headlong to spurn life,

Sunk in a criminal insanity;

To joy in blood; to threaten murders fell;

To love the wound, then, in their neighbour's flesh;

Or, burning, and by pleasure's heat entrapped,

25 To transgress nature's covenants, and stain

Pure bodies, manly sex, with an embrace

Unnameable, and uses feminine

Mingled in common contact lawlessly;

Urging embraces chaste, and dedicate

30 To generative duties, to be held

For intercourse obscene for passion's sake.

Such in time past his deeds, assaulting men,

Through the soul's lurking-places, with a flow

Of scorpion-venom, -- not that men would blame

35 Him, for they followed of their own accord:

His suasion was in guile; in freedom man

Performed it.

Whileas the perfidious one

Continuously through the centuries

Is breathing such ill fumes, and into hearts

40 Seduced injecting his own counselling

And hoping in his folly (alas!) to find

Forgiveness of his wickedness, unware

What sentence on his deed is waiting him;

With words of wisdom's weaving, and a voice

45 Presaging from God's Spirit, speak a host

Of prophets. Publicly he does not dare

Nakedly to speak evil of the Lord,

Hoping by secret ingenuity

He possibly may lurk unseen. At length

50 The soul's Light as the thrall of flesh is held;

The hope of the despairing, mightier

Than foe, enters the lists; the Fashioner,

The Renovator, of the body He;

True Glory of the Father; Son of God;

55 Author unique; a Judge and Lord He came,

The orb's renowned King; to the opprest

Prompt to give pardon, and to loose the bound;

Whose friendly aid and penal suffering

Blend God and renewed man in one. With child

60 Is holy virgin: life's new gate opes; words

Of prophets find their proof, fulfilled by facts;

Priests leave their temples, and -- a star their guide --

Wonder the Lord so mean a birth should choose.

Waters -- sight memorable! -- turn to wine;

65 Eyes are restored to blind; fiends trembling cry,

Outdriven by His bidding, and own Christ!

All limbs, already rotting, by a word

Are healed; now walks the lame; the deaf forthwith

Hears hope; the maimed extends his hand; the dumb

70 Speaks mighty words: sea at His bidding calms,

Winds drop; and all things recognise the Lord:

Confounded is the foe, and yields, though fierce,

Now triumphed over, to unequal arms!

When all his enterprises now revoked

75 He sees; the flesh, once into ruin sunk,

Now rising; man -- death vanquisht quite -- to heavens

Soaring; the peoples sealed with holy pledge

Outpoured; the work and envied deeds of might

Marvellous; and hears, too, of penalties

80 Extreme, and of perpetual dark, prepared

For himself by the Lord by God's decree

Irrevocable; naked and unarmed,

Damned, vanquisht, doomed to perish in a death

Perennial, guilty now, and sure that he

85 No pardon has, a last impiety

Forthwith he dares, -- to scatter everywhere

A word for ears to shudder at, nor meet

For voice to speak. Accosting men cast off

From God's community, men wandering

90 Without the light, found mindless, following

Things earthly, them he teaches to become

Depraved teachers of depravity.

By them he preaches that there are two Sires,

And realms divided: ill's cause is the Lord

95 Who built the orb, fashioned breath-quickened flesh,

And gave the law, and by the seers' voice spake.

Him he affirms not good, but owns Him just;

Hard, cruel, taking pleasure fell in war;

In judgment dreadful, pliant to no prayers.

100 His suasion tells of other one, to none

E'er known, who nowhere is, a deity

False, nameless, constituting nought, and who

Hath spoken precepts none. Him he calls good;

Who judges none, but spares all equally,

105 And grudges life to none. No judgment waits

The guilty; so he says, bearing about

A gory poison with sweet honey mixt

For wretched men. That flesh can rise -- to which

Himself was cause of ruin, which he spoiled

110 Iniquitously with contempt (whence, cursed,

He hath grief without end), its ever-foe, --

He doth deny; because with various wound

Life to expel and the salvation whence

He fell he strives: and therefore says that Christ

115 Came suddenly to earth, but was not made,

By any compact, partner of the flesh;

But Spirit-form, and body feigned beneath

A shape imaginary, seeks to mock

Men with a semblance that what is not is.

120 Does this, then, become God, to sport with men

By darkness led? to act an impious lie?

Or falsely call Himself a man? He walks,

Is carried, clothed, takes due rest, handled is,

Suffers, is hung and buried: man's are all

125 Deeds which, in holy body conversant,

But sent by God the Father, who hath all

Created, He did perfect properly,

Reclaiming not another's but His own;

Discernible to peoples who of old

130 Were hoping for Him by His very work,

And through the prophets' voice to the round world

Best known: and now they seek an unknown Lord,

Wandering in death's threshold manifest,

And leave behind the known. False is their faith,

135 False is their God, deceptive their reward,

False is their resurrection, death's defeat

False, vain their martyrdoms, and e'en Christ's name

An empty sound: whom, teaching that He came

Like magic mist, they (quite demented) own

140 To be the actor of a lie, and make

His passion bootless, and the populace

(A feigned one!) without crime! Is God thus true?

Are such the honours rendered to the Lord?

Ah! wretched men! gratuitously lost

145 In death ungrateful! Who, by blind guide led,

Have headlong rushed into the ditch! and as

In dreams the fancied rich man in his store

Of treasure doth exult, and with his hands

Grasps it, the sport of empty hope, so ye, so

150 Deceived, are hoping for a shadow vain

Of guerdon!

Ah! ye silent laughingstocks,

Or doomed prey, of the dragon, do ye hope,

Stern men, for death in room of gentle peace?

Dare ye blame God, who hath works

155 So great? in whose earth, 'mid profuse displays

Of His exceeding parent-care, His gifts

(Unmindful of Himself!) ye largely praise,

Rushing to ruin! do ye reprobate --

Approving of the works -- the Maker's self,

160 The world's Artificer, whose work withal

Ye are yourselves? Who gave those little selves

Great honours; sowed your crops; made all the brutes

Your subjects; makes the seasons of the year

Fruitful with stated months; grants sweetnesses,

165 Drinks various, rich odours, jocund flowers,

And the groves' grateful bowers; to growing herbs

Grants wondrous juices; founts and streams dispreads

With sweet waves, and illumes with stars the sky

And the whole orb: the infinite sole Lord,

170 Both Just and Good; known by His work; to none

By aspect known; whom nations, flourishing

In wealth, but foolish, wrapped in error's shroud,

(Albeit 'tis beneath an alien name

They praise Him, yet) their Maker knowing! dread

175 To blame: nor e'en one -- save you, hell's new gate! --

Thankless, ye choose to speak ill of your Lord!

These cruel deadly gifts the Renegade

Terrible has bestowed, through Marcion -- thanks

To Cerdo's mastership -- on you; nor comes

180 The thought into your mind that, from Christ's name

Seduced, Marcion's name has carried you

To lowest depths. Say of His many acts

What one displeases you? or what hath God

Done which is not to be extolled with praise?

185 Is it that He permits you, all too long,

(Unworthy of His patience large,) to see

Sweet light? you, who read truths, and, docking them,

Teach these your falsehoods, and approve as past

Things which are yet to be? What hinders, else,

190 That we believe your God incredible?

Nor marvel is't if, practiced as he is,

He captived you unarmed, persuading you

There are two Fathers (being damned by One),

And all, whom he had erst seduced, are gods;

195 And after that dispread a pest, which ran

With multiplying wound, and cureless crime,

To many. Men unworthy to be named,

Full of all magic's madness, he induced

To call themselves |Virtue Supreme;| and feign

200 (With harlot comrade) fresh impiety;

To roam, to fly. He is the insane god

Of Valentine, and to his Æonage

Assigned heavens thirty, and Profundity

Their sire. He taught two baptisms, and led

205 The body through the flame. That there are gods

So many as the year hath days, he bade

A Basilides to believe, and worlds

As many. Marcus, shrewdly arguing

Through numbers, taught to violate chaste form

210 'Mid magic's arts; taught, too, that the Lord's cup

Is an oblation, and by prayers is turned

To blood. His suasion prompted Hebion

To teach that Christ was born from human seed;

He taught, too, circumcision, and that room

215 Is still left for the Law, and, though Law's founts

Are lost, its elements must be resumed.

Unwilling am I to protract in words

His last atrocity, or to tell all

The causes, or the names at length. Enough

220 It is to note his many cruelties

Briefly, and the unmentionable men,

The dragon's organs fell, through whom he now,

Speaking so much profaneness, ever toils

To blame the Maker of the world. But come;

225 Recall your foot from savage Bandit's cave,

While space is granted, and to wretched men

God, patient in perennial parent-love,

Condones all deeds through error done! Believe

Truly in the true Sire, who built the orb;

230 Who, on behalf of men incapable

To bear the law, sunk in sin's whirlpool, sent

The true Lord to repair the ruin wrought,

And bring them the salvation promised

Of old through seers. He who the mandates gave

235 Remits sins too. Somewhat, deservedly,

Doth He exact, because He formerly

Entrusted somewhat; or else bounteously,

As Lord, condones as it were debts to slaves:

Finally, peoples shut up 'neath the curse,

240 And meriting the penalty, Himself

Deleting the indictment, bids be washed!

Part II. -- Of the Resurrection of the Flesh.

The whole man, then, believes; the whole is washed;

Abstains from sin, or truly suffers wounds

For Christ's name's sake: he rises a true man,

245 Death, truly vanquish, shall be mute. But not

Part of the man, -- his soul, -- her own part left

Behind, will win the palm which, labouring

And wrestling in the course, combinedly

And simultaneously with flesh, she earns.

250 Great crime it were for two in chains to bear

A weight, of whom the one were affluent

The other needy, and the wretched one

Be spurned, and guerdons to the happy one

Rendered. Not so the Just -- fair Renderer

255 Of wages -- deals, both good and just, whom we

Believe Almighty: to the thankless kind

Full is His will of pity. Nay, whate'er

He who hath greater mortal need doth need

That, by advancement, to his comrade he

260 May equalled be, that will the affluent

Bestow the rather unsolicited:

So are we bidden to believe, and not

Be willing to cast blame unlawfully

On the Lord in our teaching, as if He

265 Were one to raise the soul, as having met

With ruin, and to set her free from death

So that the granted faculty of life

Upon the ground of sole desert (because

She bravely acted), should abide with her;

270 While she who ever shared the common lot

Of toil, the flesh, should to the earth be left,

The prey of a perennial death. Has, then,

The soul pleased God by acts of fortitude?

By no means could she Him have pleased alone

275 Without the flesh. Hath she borne penal bonds?

The flesh sustained upon her limbs the bonds.

Contemned she death? But she hath left the flesh

Behind in death. Groaned she in pain?

The flesh is slain and vanquisht by the wound. Repose

280 Seeks she? The flesh, spilt by the sword in dust,

Is left behind to fishes, birds, decay,

And ashes; torn she is, unhappy one!

And broken; scattered, she melts away.

Hath she not earned to rise? for what could she

285 Have e'er committed, lifeless and alone?

What so life-grudging cause impedes, or else

Forbids, the flesh to take God's gifts, and live

Ever, conjoined with her comrade soul,

And see what she hath been, when formerly

290 Converted into dust? After, renewed,

Bear she to God deserved meeds of praise,

Not ignorant of herself, frail, mortal, sick.

Contend ye as to what the living might

Of the great God can do; who, good alike

295 And potent, grudges life to none? Was this

Death's captive? shall this perish vanquished

Which the Lord hath with wondrous wisdom made,

And art? This by His virtue wonderful

Himself upraises; this our Leader's self

300 Recalls, and this with His own glory clothes

God's art and wisdom, then, our body shaped

What can by these be made, how faileth it

To be by virtue reproduced? No cause

Can holy parent-love withstand; (lest else

305 Ill's cause should mightier prove than Power Supreme;)

That man even now saved by God's gift, may learn

(Mortal before, now robed in light immense

Inviolable, wholly quickened, soul

And body) God, in virtue infinite,

310 In parent-love perennial, through His King

Christ, through whom opened is light's way; and now,

Standing in new light, filled now with each gift,

Glad with fair fruits of living Paradise,

May praise and laud Him to eternity,

315 Rich in the wealth of the celestial hall.

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