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Tertullian's opinion, to the office of the Paraclete in the new order of prophets, to cast light on the meaning of holy writ Still more strongly must a Montanist have been induced to make such a reference, when the subject under consideration is the promise that the Paraclete should lead into all truth, and reveal what the men of that age could not yet apprehend. Certainly Tertullian might as a Montanist, in controversy with the Gnostics, who accused the apostles of ignorance and error on many points, have adverted to the distinction between the earlier stand-point of the apostles when unenlightened, and their later stand-point when enlightened by the Holy ! Spirit, and to the promise made to them of the Paraclete;— for, as we have already seen, it was not denied from the standpoint of Montanism, that that promise referred in a certain sense to the apostles, and was fulfilled to them, although in a wider sense it was applied to the new era of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the new prophets. But Tertullian as a Montanist would hardly have so expressed himself on this occasion, as to take no account of that further application of the promise which was so important to him, and which would have aided the accusations of the opponents of Montanism, who were! unwilling to admit the further application of that promise i On this account we are desirous of looking more closely at these passages in Tertullian. He says against the Gnostics, who appealed to Christ's words, "Seek, and ye shall find," to show that Christ himself required seeking and inquiring, that it must have been very different when Christ spoke these words to the apostles, who at that time had not yet partaken of the illumination of the Holy Spirit by which they would know all things, from the present state, when the apostles might be regarded as teachers who had been made acquainted with all things through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. "At last he commanded that they should go co teach and baptize the nations, since they were about to receive the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, who should lead them into all truth. But if the apostles, who were destined to be teachers, were themselves to obtain a teacher in the Paraclete, much more will the direction, "Seek, and ye shall find," be inapplicable to us, to whom the doctrine was to! come directly through the apostles, as it did to the apostles through the Holy Spirit. Indeed, Tertullian, in this passage, makes use of the rule, which he applies, according to his varied polemical bias, sometimes on one side, and sometimes
on the other, that what was primarily said by our Lord in reference to the apostles, must admit of universal application to Christians generally in all ages; but the manner in which he here expresses it, shows very plainly that at this time he had no intention of making a special application of this promise to the new revelations of the Paraclete.
Indeed," he says, "all the words of the Lord which have come down to us through the hearing of the Jews, are set forth for all; but most of them being directed to particular persons, do not possess for us the property of an exhortation, but are an example." It is evident that Tertullian, since he felt himself compelled to mention the possible general application of these words, could so much the less have omitted to represent the special value which these words must possess from the stand-point of the Montanists in reference to the new revelations. He would in this way, as happens here, have, in fact, expressly contradicted his own Montanist principles. Moreover, in contradiction to Montanism, he refers expressly to the apostles the words of Christ, that he had still many things to say which the men of his age2 could not apprehend. Also, we might here mention two other things as marks of nonMontanism, though without attaching any great importance to them. Tertullian expresses himself in one passage3 as if Peter was called the Rock on which the church is built, and the power to bind and loose was given him by Christ; but as a Montanist, he disputed, as we have seen, the application of these words to the apostle Peter and Roman bishops as his successors. He maintained that these words referred to Peter only as a man specially enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and to all spiritales homines equally with him. Nevertheless, by what Tertullian here says, such a general reference of these words is not excluded. Then, too, we may here notice the manner in which he regards the Roman church and the Roman bishops, by which we recognise in him a man reverencing the Roman church as the ecclesia apostolica for the West, and still maintaining a friendly relation to the Roman bishops. We know, indeed, that as a Montanist he was involved in a violent schism with the Roman church, yet we would not confidently pronounce this to be evidence of the non-Montanism of this treatise; for although as a Montanist he was in many respects an opponent of the Roman bishops and resisted their pretensions, yet he might 1 Cap. viii. • Cap. xxii. 3 Ibid.
forget all this when engaged in conflict with their common enemies.
But for the later post-montanist origin of this work, what occurs in it in reference to Hermogenes has been adduced; for Tertullian, as a Montanist, violently attacked him, and, as we see, many things which he says against him are connected with his own Montanism. In the regula fidei, which Tertullian quotes, one of the recensions of the essentially apostolic doctrine which form the basis of the so-called Apostles' Creed, in the doctrine of the creation of the universe from nothing, a reference has been supposed to Hermogenes as the impugner of this doctrine. But we are of opinion that such a reference cannot with any certainty be proved to have been intended; for as in the whole contest opposition to the Gnostics is treated of, and this opposition is a leading topic throughout the work, everything said by Tertullian in it is fully accounted for. But certainly in two passages there is an express reference to Hermogenes, yet we cannot consider the fact that Tertullian appears in this treatise as an opponent of Hermogenes, as a proof that it was not written till after Tertullian had embraced Montanism; for as we must have already noticed in many instances, that tendencies and ideas which Tertullian had adopted before that event were taken along with him into Montanism; so before he passed from his Christian stand-point to Montanism, he might have been an opponent of one who assailed the creative power of God by a doctrine borrowed from the schools of Grecian philo sophy, which appeared to him to injure the simplicity of the Gospel; and the opponent of one who, from the stand-point of a cold objectivity hateful to Tertullian's glowing Christian feeling, was not afraid as a painter to borrow objects for his art from the heathen mythology. We know too little respecting the chronology of the life of Hermogenes and the exact date of Tertullian's passing over to Montanism, to adduce anything against such a supposition.
This treatise of Tertullian's was occasioned by the immenecessities of the much-agitated church, as it was ing itself in conflict with heretics. It was matter of ce that men and women who had belonged for a contime to the church, had acquired great reputation in hitherto had appeared examples of firmness in the ere brought under the influence of the sects that were g around them; and in consequence, many of the
weaker believers were surprised and disturbed. The thought might well arise in such persons' minds,-" Must not these sects have right on their side, in virtue of which they obtain access to so many, and to persons of such character?" As Tertullian says, "There are people who are struck with astonishment at certain persons who have been caught by heresy, and are built up to ruin.” Heretics gain an entrance for themselves, first and chiefly, by appealing to holy writ; from this at first they deduce their doctrine, and wish thence to carry on the warfare they have commenced against the church. The less the multitude are acquainted with the historical records of religion, the less are they exercised in the right interpretation of them; and the greater their deficiency in the right principles of interpretation, so much more easily are they the prey of heretics. On this account Tertullian was anxious to furnish believers, if possible, with a preservative against heresies that would be independent of the interpretation of scripture. And since experience had proved that nothing was gained by an exegetical dispute in which men proceed on different assumptions and principles, and the weak, who saw that heretics could always adduce reasons for their opinions, were thereby led astray, Tertullian thought that he must seek out another method of refuting heretics, and of establishing believers. He says, "Our adversaries urge the Scriptures upon us, and by this their boldness they unsettle some; and in the actual conflict they weary out the strong, they capture the weak, they dismiss the undecided with scruples." "What," he exclaims, "wilt thou gain, who art most practised in the Scriptures, when if thou defendest anything it is denied by thy adversary, and if thou deniest anything it is defended? Thou wilt lose nothing but thy voice in the debate, and gain nothing but worthless praise on account of the blasphemy of thy opponent." But he, if there be any such person, for whom thou enterest into discussion of the Scriptures, that thou mayest confirm him when wavering,
The words of Paul in 1 Cor. viii. 10, seem to have suggested to Tertullian this singula, phraseology; and he also appears to use the word ædificare in an ironical sense.
2 Dr. Neander in his translation follows the reading in Semler's edition, "Nihil consequeris, nisi vilem de blasphematione laudem;" but other editors read the latter cause, "nisi bilem de blasphematione," omitting "laudem," which is adopted in Mr. Dodgson's translation, Oxford, 1842, "thou wilt gain nothing but vexation from thir blasphemy." Vide Tertull. Opera, ed Semler, vol. ii. p. 17.- TR.
will he incline to truth, or rather to heresies? By this very thing he is moved, that he sees thou hast made no progress, since on both sides the affirming and denying are on a par; by this equal altercation he goes away more doubtful than ever, not knowing what is to be regarded as heresy."
Before we follow Tertullian any further in his polemics, the question meets us, whether he writes from his own personal experience; whether he was moved to compose this treatise by an immediate necessity arising from the state of the church's development at that period, and had in view a particular sect, or class of sects, with which the Western church was especially called to combat-whether a definite image was presented to his mental vision, or whether he had in his mind all the heresies he was acquainted with, and had combined the various marks which suited the different sects without distinction, because he wished rather to animadvert on what was common to all these heresies in their opposition to the church, rather than to take account of their distinctive peculiarities. One thing is undeniable, that though Tertullian alludes in passing to other heresies, yet the image of the Gnostics, whom the church had then especially to combat, to whom Tertullian's practical spirit formed the most striking contrast, and against whom, or their teachers, several of his writings were specially directed, stood present to his mind. But then it is doubtful whether he had in view all the classes of Gnostics, or chiefly a certain section of them, by whom the Western church was peculiarly annoyed. When Tertullian deduces all heresies from the Grecian philosophy, we must consider that he was acquainted with speculation only in the form of Grecian philosophy, and that when he found any peculiar speculative views he believed that these could be duced from no other source than one of the schools of cian philosophy. The truth that lies at the basis of his arks is the formation of the Gnostic system from a mingling reign speculative and Christian elements. Likewise what llian says respecting particular speculative questions, which the heretics as well as the philosophers interested selve its the Gnostics entirely, but not the leading
>sticism, that of Marcion. Yet Tertullian, ticism only the common element of oppoe simple Christian truth and the docurch, had certainly neither the ability nor to investigate and understand the peculiar