Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume III/Anti-Marcion/The Prescription Against Heretics/Chapter IX

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Chapter IX.—The Research After Definite Truth Enjoined on Us. When We Have Discovered This, We Should Be Content.

I now purposely[1] relinquish this ground of argument. Let it be granted, that the words, “Seek, and ye shall find,” were addressed to all men (equally). Yet even here one’s aim is[2] carefully to determine[3] the sense of the words[4] consistently with[5] (that reason),[6] which is the guiding principle[7] in all interpretation. (Now) no divine saying is so unconnected[8] and diffuse, that its words only are to be insisted on, and their connection left undetermined. But at the outset I lay down (this position) that there is some one, and therefore definite, thing taught by Christ, which the Gentiles are by all means bound to believe, and for that purpose to “seek,” in order that they may be able, when they have “found” it, to believe. However,[9] there can be no indefinite seeking for that which has been taught as one only definite thing. You must “seek” until you “find,” and believe when you have found; nor have you anything further to do but to keep what you have believed provided you believe this besides, that nothing else is to be believed, and therefore nothing else is to be sought, after you have found and believed what has been taught by Him who charges you to seek no other thing than that which He has taught.[10] When, indeed, any man doubts about this, proof will be forthcoming,[11] that we have in our possession[12] that which was taught by Christ.  Meanwhile, such is my confidence in our proof, that I anticipate it, in the shape of an admonition to certain persons, not “to seek” anything beyond what they have believed—that this is what they ought to have sought, how to avoid[13] interpreting, “Seek, and ye shall find,” without regard to the rule of reason.


Footnotes[edit]

  1. Sponte.
  2. Expetit.
  3. Certare.
  4. Sensus.
  5. Cum.
  6. See Oehler’s note.
  7. Gubernaculo. See Irenæus, ii. 46, for a similar view (Rigalt.). Surely Dodgson’s version, if intelligible in itself even, incorrectly represents Tertullian’s sense.
  8. Dissoluta.
  9. Porro.
  10. [Not to be contented with Truth, once known, is a sin preceding that against the Holy Spirit, and this state of mind explains the judicial blindness inflicted on Lapsers, as asserted by St. Paul, 2 Thess. ii. 10, 13, where note—“they received not the love of the truth.” They had it and were not content with it.]
  11. Constabit.
  12. Penes nos.
  13. Ne.