The
CAUSE OF GOD AND TRUTH.

Part 4
Chapter 4—Of Efficacious  Grace

Section 6—Tertullian. A.D. 200.


Tertullian ascribes all that a man has and does, in a spiritual way, to the grace of God, and the whole work of grace to his mighty power. At the beginning of his Treatise on Patience, he confesses, that he was very unfit to write on that subject, as being homo nullius boni, ‘a  worthless man;' and observes,[1] “that as evil things, so some good things are of such a prodigious magnitude, that, ad capienda et praestanda ea, sola gratia divinae inspirationis operetur, only the grace of divine inspiration can work in us to receive and perform them.” The virtue of continence he makes to be the gift of God, on the account of which none should boast in themselves, but give God the glory; his words are these:[2] “And if the virtue of continence is bestowed by God, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it; and if thou hadst received it, what hast thou that is not given to thee? But by this it is plain, that it is not given to thee by God, because thou dost not ascribe it to him alone.” And in another place, speaking of the knowledge of God and Christ, he expresses himself thus:[3] “By whom is truth found out without God? To whom is God known without Christ? By whom is Christ explored without the Holy Spirit? To whom is the Holy Spirit applied without the mystery of faith?” Elsewhere he says,[4] “When a renewed soul comes to believe through the second birth, ex aqua et superna virtute, ‘which is of water and power from above,' the curtain of former corruption being drawn, beholds all its own light.” Again having mentioned a passage in Psalm 45:4, which he reads, Thy right hand shall lead thee wonderfully, makes this note on it:[5] Virtus scilicet gratiae spiritualis, qua Christi agnitio deducitur, namely, the power of spiritual grace, by which the knowledge of Christ is brought on.” And a little after, speaking of the name of Jesus, as a name under which the Jews did not expect the Messiah, adds,[6] “For neither though we, per Dei gratiam, ‘through the grace of God,' obtain an understanding of his mysteries, also acknowledge this name as appointed for Christ, therefore will the thing be known to the Jews, from whom wisdom is taken away.” And in the same chapter he says,[7] that “the possession of eternal life is not by Moses, that is, not by the discipline of the law, but comes by Jesus, that is, per evangelii gratiam, by the grace of the gospel.” And a little after, upon the types and figures of Christ, he makes this observation,[8] “that the more incredible any thing is, the more offensive, if it is nakedly preached; and the more magnificent it is, the more is it to be overshadowed, ut difficultas intellectus gratiam Dei quaereret, that the difficulty of the understanding may seek after the grace of God.” Citing Luke 11:40, he observes,[9] that “Christ by this saying plainly demonstrates, ad eundem Deum pertinere munditias hominis exterioris et interioris; that the cleansing both of the outward and inward man belongs to the same God, whose they are both.” And in another place,[10] having mentioned Ephesians 2:10, he has this note: “It is one thing to make, and another to create, but both he gives to one; man is the workmanship of the Creator, the same therefore who hath made, hath created in Christ. With respect to substance, he hath made him; quantum ad gratiam condidit, ‘with respect to grace, he hath created him.” Inspect the context. To which may be added that saying of his,[11] Fiunt, non nascuntur Christiani, “Men are made, not born Christians.”


ENDNOTES:

[1] Tertull. de Patientia, c. 1, p. 1, 9.

[2] De Virgin. Veland c. 13, p. 202.

[3] De Anima, c. 1, p. 304.

[4] Ibid. c. 41, p. 343.

[5] Adv. Marcion, 1. 3, c. 14. p. 489.

[6] Ibid. c. 16, p. 490.

[7] Ibid. p. 491.

[8] Adv. Marcio, c. 18, p. 492.

[9] Ibid. 1. 4, c. 27, p. 548.

[10] Ibid. 1. 5, c. 17, p. 609.

[11] Apolog. c. 18, p. 18.