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

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Chapter X.—One Has Succeeded in Finding Definite Truth, When He Believes. Heretical Wits are Always Offering Many Things for Vain Discussion, But We are Not to Be Always Seeking.

Now the reason of this saying is comprised in three points: in the matter, in the time, in the limit.[1] In the matter, so that you must consider what it is you have to seek; in the time, when you have to seek; in the limit, how long. What you have “to seek,” then, is that which Christ has taught,[2] (and you must go on seeking) of course for such time as you fail to find,[3]—until indeed you find[4] it. But you have succeeded in finding[5] when you have believed. For you would not have believed if you had not found; as neither would you have sought except with a view to find. Your object, therefore, in seeking was to find; and your object in finding was to believe. All further delay for seeking and finding you have prevented[6] by believing. The very fruit of your seeking has determined for you this limit.  This boundary[7] has He set for you Himself, who is unwilling that you should believe anything else than what He has taught, or, therefore, even seek for it. If, however, because so many other things have been taught by one and another, we are on that account bound to go on seeking, so long as we are able to find anything, we must (at that rate) be ever seeking, and never believe anything at all. For where shall be the end of seeking? where the stop[8] in believing? where the completion in finding?  (Shall it be) with Marcion? But even Valentinus proposes (to us the) maxim, “Seek, and ye shall find.” (Then shall it be) with Valentinus? Well, but Apelles, too, will assail me with the same quotation; Hebion also, and Simon, and all in turn, have no other argument wherewithal to entice me, and draw me over to their side. Thus I shall be nowhere, and still be encountering[9] (that challenge), “Seek, and ye shall find,” precisely as if I had no resting-place;[10] as if (indeed) I had never found that which Christ has taught—that which ought[11] to be sought, that which must needs[12] be believed.


  1. In modo.
  2. This is, “the matter.”
  3. “The time.”
  4. “The limit.”
  5. Invenisti.
  6. Fixisti, “determined.”
  7. Fossam.
  8. Statio, “resting-place.”
  9. Dum convenero.
  10. This is the rendering of Oehler’s text, “et velut si nusquam. There are other readings of this obscure passage, of which as we add the two most intelligible. The Codex Agobardinus has, “et velim si nunquam;” that is, “and I would that I were nowhere,” with no fixed belief—in such wise as never to have had the truth; not, as must now be, to have forfeited it. (Dodgson).  This seems far-fetched, and inferior to the reading of Pamelius and his mss.:  “et velint me sic esse nusquam;”—or (as Semler puts it) “velint sic nusquam;” i.e., “and they (the heretics) would wish me to be nowhere”—without the fixed faith of the Catholic. This makes good sense. [Semler is here mentioned, and if anybody wishes to understand what sort of editor he was, he may be greatly amused by Kaye’s examination of some of his positions, pp. 64–84. Elucidation II.]
  11. Oportet.
  12. Necesse est. Observe these degrees of obligation.