Five Books in Reply to Marcion Book IV. Of Marcion’s Antitheses.

Early Christian Writings

Title: Tertullian: The Five Books against Marcion Book IV

Subheading: Of Marcion’s Antitheses.

From:  (CCEL Tertullian: Part Fourth. Appendix:)

Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol IV. (Part.IV)

Τὰ ἀρχαῖα ἔθη κρατείτω. The Nicene Council

Original Source: CCEL ANF03 X


Translated by: Rev. S. Thelwall

By: Author Uncertain

Published: 197-220 A.D.

(PDF File Size: xx mb) xx pages

Our Ref:
ECST: 167.12.5.T00

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Book IV.

Of Marcion’s Antitheses.

What the Inviolable Power bids
The youthful people, which, rich, free, and heir,
Possesses an eternal hope of praise
(By right assigned) is this: that with great zeal

5 Burning, armed with the love of peace—yet not
As teachers (Christ alone doth all things teach),
But as Christ’s household—servants—o’er the earth
They should conduct a massive war; should raze
The wicked’s lofty towers, savage walls,

10 And threats which ’gainst the holy people’s bands
Rise, and dissolve such empty sounds in air.
Wherefore we, justly speaking emulous words,
Out of his own words even strive to express
The meaning of salvation’s records, which

15 Large grace hath poured profusely; and to ope 157
To the saints’ eyes the Bandit’s covert plague:
Lest any untrained, daring, ignorant,
Fall therein unawares, and (being caught)
Forfeit celestial gifts.
God, then, is One

20 To mortals all and everywhere; a Realm
Eternal, Origin of light profound;
Life’s Fount; a Draught fraught with all wisdom. He
Produced the orb whose bosom all things girds;
Him not a region, not a place, includes as

25 In circuit: matter none perennial is,
So as to be self-made, or to have been
Ever, created by no Maker: heaven’s,
Earth’s, sea’s, and the abyss’s Settler is
The Spirit; air’s Divider, Builder, Author,

30 Sole God perpetual, Power immense, is He.
Him had the Law the People shown to be
One God, whose mighty voice to Moses spake
Upon the mount. Him this His Virtue, too,
His Wisdom, Glory, Word, and Son, this Light

35 Begotten from the Light immense, proclaims
Through the seers’ voices, to be One: and Paul,
Taking the theme in order up, thus too
Himself delivers; “Father there is One
Through whom were all things made: Christ One, through whom

40 God all things made;” to whom he plainly owns
That every knee doth bow itself; of whom
Is every fatherhood in heaven and earth
Called: who is zealous with the highest love
Of parent-care His people-ward; and wills

45 All flesh to live in holy wise, and wills
His people to appear before Him pure
Without a crime. With such zeal, by a law
Guards He our safety; warns us loyal be;
Chastens; is instant. So, too, has the same

50 Apostle (when Galatian brethren
Chiding)—Paul—written that such zeal hath he.
The fathers’sins God freely rendered, then,
Slaying in whelming deluge utterly Parents alike with progeny, and e’en

55 Grandchildren in “fourth generation” now
Descended from the parent-stock, when He
Has then for nearly these nine hundred years
Assisted them. Hard does the judgment seem?
The sentence savage? And in Sodom, too,

60 That the still guiltless little one unarmed
And tender should lose life: for what had e’er
The infant sinned? What cruel thou mayst think,
Is parent-care’s true duty. Lest misdeed
Should further grow, crime’s authors He did quench,

65 And sinful parents’ brood. But, with his sires,
The harmless infant pays not penalties
Perpetual, ignorant and not advanced
In crime: but lest he partner should become
Of adult age’s guilt, death immature

70 Undid spontaneous future ills.
Why, then,
Bids God libation to be poured to Him
With blood of sheep? and takes so stringent means
By Law, that, in the People, none transgress
Erringly, threatening them with instant death

75 By stoning? and why reprobates, again,
These gifts of theirs, and says they are to Him
Unwelcome, while He chides a People prest
With swarm of sin? Does He, the truthful, bid,
And He, the just, at the same time repel?

80 The causes if thou seekst, cease to be moved
Erringly: for faith’s cause is weightier
Than fancied reason. Through a mirror —shade
Of fulgent light!—behold what the calf’s blood,
The heifer’s ashes, and each goat, do mean:

85 The one dismissed goes off, the other falls
A victim at the temple.
With calf’s blood
With water mixt the seer (thus from on high
Bidden) besprinkled People, vessels all,
Priests, and the written volumes of the Law.

90 See here not their true hope, nor yet a mere
Semblance devoid of virtue: but behold 158
In the calf’s type Christ destined bodily
To suffer; who upon His shoulders bare
The plough-beam’s hard yokes, and with fortitude

95 Brake His own heart with the steel share, and poured
Into the furrows water of His own
Life’s blood. For these “temple-vessels” do
Denote our bodies: God’s true temple He,
Not dedicated erst; for to Himself

100 He by His blood associated men,
And willed them be His body’s priests, Himself
The Supreme Father’s perfect Priest by right.
Hearing, sight, step inert, He cleansed; and, for a “book,”
Sprinkled, by speaking words of presage, those

105 His witnesses: demonstrating the Law
Bound by His holy blood.
This cause withal
Our victim through “the heifer” manifests
From whose blood taking for the People’s sake
Piacular drops, them the first Levite bare

110 Within the veil; and, by God’s bidding, burned
Her corse without the camp’s gates; with whose ash
He cleansed lapsed bodies.
Thus our Lord (who us
By His own death redeemed), without the camp
Willingly suffering the violence

115 Of an iniquitous People, did fulfil
The Law, by facts predictions proving; who
A people of contamination full
Doth truly cleanse, conceding all things, as
The body’s Author rich; within heaven’s veil

120 Gone with the blood which—One for many’s deaths—
He hath outpoured.
A holy victim, then,
Is meet for a great priest; which worthily
He, being perfect, may be proved to have,
And offer. He a body hath: this is

125 For mortals a live victim; worthy this
Of great price did He offer, One for all.
The semblance of the “goats” teaches that they
Are men exiled out of the “peoples twain”
As barren; fruitless both; (of whom the Lord

130 Spake also, in the Gospel, telling how
The kids are severed from the sheep, and stand
On the left hand): that some indeed there are
Who for the Lord’s Name’s sake have suffered: thus
That fruit has veiled their former barrenness:

135 And such, the prophet teaches, on the ground
Of that their final merit worthy are
Of the Lord’s altar: others, cast away
(As was th’ iniquitous rich man, we read,
By Lazarus), are such as have remained

140 Exiled, persistent in their stubbornness.
Now a veil, hanging in the midst, did both
Dissever, and had into portions twain
Divided the one shrine. The inner parts
Were called “Holies of holies.” Stationed there

145 An altar shone, noble with gold; and there,
At the same time, the testaments and ark
Of the Law’s tablets; covered wholly o’er
With lambs’skins dyed with heaven’s hue; within
Gold-clad; and all between of wood. Here are so

150 The tablets of the Law; here is the urn
Replete with manna; here is Aaron’s rod
Which puts forth germens of the cross —unlike 159
The cross itself, yet born of storax-tree —And over it—in uniformity

155 Fourfold—the cherubim their pinions spread,
And the inviolable sanctities
Covered obediently. Without the veil
Part of the shrine stood open: facing it,
Heavy with broad brass, did an altar stand;

160 And with two triple sets (on each side one)
Of branches woven with the central stem,
A lampstand, and as many lamps:
The golden substance wholly filled with light
The temple.
Thus the temple’s outer face,

165 Common and open, does the ritual
Denote, then, of a people lingering
Beneath the Law; amid whose gloom there shone
The Holy Spirit’s sevenfold unity
Ever, the People sheltering. And thus

170 The Lampstand True and living Lamps do shine
Persistently throughout the Law and Seers
On men subdued in heart. And for a type
Of earth, the altar—so tradition says—
Was made. Here constantly, in open space,

175 Before all eyes were visible of old
The People’s “works,” which ever—“not without
Blood” —it did offer, shedding out the gore
Of lawless life. There, too, the Lord—Himself
Made victim on behalf of all—denotes

180 The whole earth —altar in specific sense.
Hence likewise that new covenant author, whom
No language can describe, Disciple John,
Testifies that beneath such altar he
Saw souls which had for Christ’s name suffered,

185 Praying the vengeance of the mighty God
Upon their slaughter. There, meantime, is rest.
In some unknown part there exists a spot
Open, enjoying its own light; ’tis called
“Abraham’s bosom;” high above the glooms,

190 And far removed from fire, yet ’neath the earth.
The brazen altar this is called, whereon
(We have recorded) was a dusky veil.
This veil divides both parts, and leaves the one
Open, from the eternal one distinct

195 In worship and time’s usage. To itself
Tis not unfriendly, though of fainter love,
By time and space divided, and yet linked
By reason. ’Tis one house, though by a veil
Parted it seems: and thus (when the veil burst,

200 On the Lord’s passion) heavenly regions oped
And holy vaults, and what was double erst
Became one house perennial.
Order due
Traditionally has interpreted
The inner temple of the people called

205 After Christ’s Name, with worship heavenly,
God’s actual mandates following; (no “shade”
Is herein bound, but persons real;) complete
By the arrival of the “perfect things.”
The ark beneath a type points out to us

210 Christ’s venerable body, joined, through “wood,”
With sacred Spirit: the aërial skins
Are flesh not born of seed, outstretcht on “wood;”
At the same time, with golden semblance fused,
Within, the glowing Spirit joined is

215 Thereto; that, with peace granted, flesh might bloom
With Spirit mixt. Of the Lord’s flesh, again,
The urn, golden and full, a type doth bear.
Itself denotes that the new covenant’s Lord
Is manna; in that He, true heavenly Bread,

220 Is, and hath by the Father been transfused
Into that bread which He hath to His saints 160
Assigned for a pledge: this Bread will He
Give perfectly to them who (of good works
The lovers ever) have the bonds of peace

225 Kept. And the double tablets of the law
Written all over, these, at the same time,
Signify that that Law was ever hid
In Christ, who mandate old and new fulfilled,
Ark of the Supreme Father as He is,

230 Through whom He, being rich, hath all things given.
The storax-rod, too, nut’s fruit bare itself;
(The virgin’s semblance this, who bare in blood
A body:) on the “wood” conjoined ’twill lull
Death’s bitter, which within sweet fruit doth lurk,

235 By virtue of the Holy Spirit’s grace:
Just as Isaiah did predict “a rod”
From Jesse’s seed —Mary—from which a flower
Issues into the orb.
The altar bright with gold
Denotes the heaven on high, whither ascend

240 Prayers holy, sent up without crime: the Lord
This “altar” spake of, where if one doth gifts
Offer, he must first reconciliate
Peace with his brother: thus at length his prayers
Can flame unto the stars. Christ, Victor sole

245 And foremost. Priest, thus offered incense born
Not of a tree, but prayers.
The cherubim
Being, with twice two countenances, one,
And are the one word through fourfold order led;
The hoped comforts of life’s mandate new,

250 Which in their plenitude Christ bare Himself
Unto us from the Father. But the wings
In number four times six, the heraldings
Of the old world denote, witnessing things
Which, we are taught, were after done. On these

255 The heavenly words fly through the orb: with these
Christ’s blood is likewise held context, so told
Obscurely by the seers’ presaging mouth.
The number of the wings doth set a seal
Upon the ancient volumes; teaching us

260 Those twenty-four have certainly enough
Which sang the Lord’s ways and the times of peace:
These all, we see, with the new covenant
Cohere. Thus also John; the Spirit thus
To him reveals that in that number stand

265 The enthroned elders white and crowned, who (as
With girding-rope) all things surround, before
The Lord’s throne, and upon the glassy sea
Subigneous: and four living creatures, winged
And full of eyes within and outwardly,

270 Do signify that hidden things are oped,
And all things shut are at the same time seen,
In the word’s eye. The glassy flame-mixt sea
Means that the laver’s gifts, with Spirit fused
Therein, upon believers are conferred.

275 Who could e’en tell what the Lord’s parent-care
Before His judgment-seat, before His bar,
Prepared hath? that such as willing be
His forum and His judgment for themselves
To antedate, should ’scape! that who thus hastes

280 Might find abundant opportunity!
Thus therefore Law and wondrous prophets sang;
Thus all parts of the covenant old and new,
Those sacred rights and pregnant utterances
Of words, conjoined, do flourish. Thus withal,

285 Apostles’ voices witness everywhere;
Nor aught of old, in fine, but to the new
Is joined.
Thus err they, and thus facts retort
Their sayings, who to false ways have declined;
And from the Lord and God, eternal King,

290 Who such an orb produced, detract, and seek
Some other deity ’neath feigned name,
Bereft of minds, which (frenzied) they have lost;
Willing to affirm that Christ a stranger is
To the Law; nor is the world’s Lord; nor doth will

295 Salvation of the flesh; nor was Himself
The body’s Maker, by the Father’s power. 161
Them must we flee, stopping (unasked) our ears;
Lest with their speech they stain innoxious hearts.
Let therefore us, whom so great grace of God

300 Hath penetrated, and the true celestial words
Of the great Master-Teacher in good ways
Have trained, and given us right monuments;
Pay honour ever to the Lord, and sing
Endlessly, joying in pure faith, and sure

305 Salvation. Born of the true God, with bread
Perennial are we nourished, and hope
With our whole heart after eternal life.

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