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Tertullian, On The Veiling Of Virgins, 1

nanHaving already undergone the trouble peculiar to my opinion, I will show in Latin also that it behooves our virgins to be veiled from the time that they have passed the turning-point of their age: that this observance is exacted by truth, on which no one can impose prescription - no space of times, no influence of persons, no privilege of regions. For these, for the most part, are the sources whence, from some ignorance or simplicity, custom finds its beginning; and then it is successionally confirmed into an usage, and thus is maintained in opposition to truth. But our Lord Christ has surnamed Himself Truth, not Custom. If Christ is always, and prior to all, equally truth is a thing sempiternal and ancient. Let those therefore look to themselves, to whom that is new which is intrinsically old. It is not so much novelty as truth which convicts heresies. Whatever savours of opposition to truth, this will be heresy, even (if it be an) ancient custom. On the other hand, if any is ignorant of anything, the ignorance proceeds from his own defect. Moreover, whatever is matter of ignorance ought to have been as carefully inquired into as whatever is matter of acknowledgment received. The rule of faith, indeed, is altogether one, alone immoveable and irreformable; the rule, to wit, of believing in one only God omnipotent, the Creator of the universe, and His Son Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, crucified under Pontius Pilate, raised again the third day from the dead, received in the heavens, sitting now at the right (hand) of the Father, destined to come to judge quick and dead through the resurrection of the flesh as well (as of the spirit). This law of faith being constant, the other succeeding points of discipline and conversation admit the novelty of correction; the grace of God, to wit, operating and advancing even to the end. For what kind of (supposition) is it, that, while the devil is always operating and adding daily to the ingenuities of iniquity, the work of God should either have ceased, or else have desisted from advancing? Whereas the reason why the Lord sent the Paraclete was, that, since human mediocrity was unable to take in all things at once, discipline should, little by little, be directed, and ordained, and carried on to perfection, by that Vicar of the Lord, the Holy Spirit. Still, He said, I have many things to say to you, but you are not yet able to bear them: when that Spirit of truth shall have come, He will conduct you into all truth, and will report to you the supervening (things). But above, withal, He made a declaration concerning this His work. What, then, is the Paraclete's administrative office but this: the direction of discipline, the revelation of the Scriptures, the reformation of the intellect, the advancement toward the better things? Nothing is without stages of growth: all things await their season. In short, the preacher says, A time to everything. Look how creation itself advances little by little to fructification. First comes the grain, and from the grain arises the shoot, and from the shoot struggles out the shrub: thereafter boughs and leaves gather strength, and the whole that we call a tree expands: then follows the swelling of the germen, and from the germen bursts the flower, and from the flower the fruit opens: that fruit itself, rude for a while, and unshapely, little by little, keeping the straight course of its development, is trained to the mellowness of its flavour. So, too, righteousness - for the God of righteousness and of creation is the same - was first in a rudimentary state, having a natural fear of God: from that stage it advanced, through the Law and the Prophets, to infancy; from that stage it passed, through the Gospel, to the fervour of youth: now, through the Paraclete, it is settling into maturity. He will be, after Christ, the only one to be called and revered as Master; for He speaks not from Himself, but what is commanded by Christ. He is the only prelate, because He alone succeeds Christ. They who have received Him set truth before custom. They who have heard Him prophesying even to the present time, not of old, bid virgins be wholly covered.

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1. Justin, First Apology, 40 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

40. And hear how it was foretold concerning those who published His doctrine and proclaimed His appearance, the above-mentioned prophet and king speaking thus by the Spirit of prophecy Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their voice has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world. In the sun has He set His tabernacle, and he as a bridegroom going out of his chamber shall rejoice as a giant to run his course. And we have thought it right and relevant to mention some other prophetic utterances of David besides these; from which you may learn how the Spirit of prophecy exhorts men to live, and how He foretold the conspiracy which was formed against Christ by Herod the king of the Jews, and the Jews themselves, and Pilate, who was your governor among them, with his soldiers; and how He should be believed on by men of every race; and how God calls Him His Son, and has declared that He will subdue all His enemies under Him; and how the devils, as much as they can, strive to escape the power of God the Father and Lord of all, and the power of Christ Himself; and how God calls all to repentance before the day of judgment comes. These things were uttered thus: Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful: but his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law will he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of waters, which shall give his fruit in his season; and his leaf shall not wither, and whatsoever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away from the face of the earth. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the council of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous; but the way of the ungodly shall perish. Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine new things? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast their yoke from us. He that dwells in the heavens shall laugh at them, and the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall He speak to them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure. Yet have I been set by Him a King on Zion His holy hill, declaring the decree of the Lord. The Lord said to Me, You are My Son; this day have I begotten You. Ask of Me, and I shall give You the heathen for Your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth as Your possession. You shall herd them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall You dash them in pieces. Be wise now, therefore, O you kings; be instructed, all you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Embrace instruction, lest at any time the Lord be angry, and you perish from the right way, when His wrath has been suddenly kindled. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.
2. Tertullian, On The Crown, 3 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

3. And how long shall we draw the saw to and fro through this line, when we have an ancient practice, which by anticipation has made for us the state, i.e., of the question? If no passage of Scripture has prescribed it, assuredly custom, which without doubt flowed from tradition, has confirmed it. For how can anything come into use, if it has not first been handed down? Even in pleading tradition, written authority, you say, must be demanded. Let us inquire, therefore, whether tradition, unless it be written, should not be admitted. Certainly we shall say that it ought not to be admitted, if no cases of other practices which, without any written instrument, we maintain on the ground of tradition alone, and the countece thereafter of custom, affords us any precedent. To deal with this matter briefly, I shall begin with baptism. When we are going to enter the water, but a little before, in the presence of the congregation and under the hand of the president, we solemnly profess that we disown the devil, and his pomp, and his angels. Hereupon we are thrice immersed, making a somewhat ampler pledge than the Lord has appointed in the Gospel. Then when we are taken up (as new-born children), we taste first of all a mixture of milk and honey, and from that day we refrain from the daily bath for a whole week. We take also, in congregations before daybreak, and from the hand of none but the presidents, the sacrament of the Eucharist, which the Lord both commanded to be eaten at meal-times, and enjoined to be taken by all alike. As often as the anniversary comes round, we make offerings for the dead as birthday honours. We count fasting or kneeling in worship on the Lord's day to be unlawful. We rejoice in the same privilege also from Easter to Whitsunday. We feel pained should any wine or bread, even though our own, be cast upon the ground. At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at table, when we light the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the sign.
3. Tertullian, On Modesty, 11 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

11. From the side of its pertinence to the Gospel, the question of the parables indeed has by this time been disposed of. If, however, the Lord, by His deeds withal, issued any such proclamation in favour of sinners; as when He permitted contact even with his own body to the woman, a sinner, - washing, as she did, His feet with tears, and wiping them with her hair, and inaugurating His sepulture with ointment; as when to the Samaritaness - not an adulteress by her now sixth marriage, but a prostitute - He showed (what He did show readily to any one) who He was; - no benefit is hence conferred upon our adversaries, even if it had been to such as were already Christians that He (in these several cases) granted pardon. For we now affirm: This is lawful to the Lord alone: may the power of His indulgence be operative at the present day! At those times, however, in which He lived on earth we lay this down definitively, that it is no prejudgment against us if pardon used to be conferred on sinners - even Jewish ones. For Christian discipline dates from the renewing of the Testament, and (as we have premised) from the redemption of flesh - that is, the Lord's passion. None was perfect before the discovery of the order of faith; none a Christian before the resumption of Christ to heaven; none holy before the manifestation of the Holy Spirit from heaven, the Determiner of discipline itself.
4. Tertullian, On The Resurrection of The Flesh, 19-21, 18 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

18. Thus far it has been my object by prefatory remarks to lay a foundation for the defense of all the Scriptures which promise a resurrection of the flesh. Now, inasmuch as this verity is supported by so many just and reasonable considerations - I mean the dignity of the flesh itself, the power and might of God, the analogous cases in which these are displayed, as well as the good reasons for the judgment, and the need thereof - it will of course be only right and proper that the Scriptures should be understood in the sense suggested by such authoritative considerations, and not after the conceits of the heretics, which arise from infidelity solely, because it is deemed incredible that the flesh should be recovered from death and restored to life; not because (such a restoration) is either unattainable by the flesh itself, or impossible for God to effect, or unsuitable to the final judgment. Incredible, no doubt, it might be, if it had not been revealed in the word of God; except that, even if it had not been thus first announced by God, it might have been fairly enough assumed, that the revelation of it had been withheld, simply because so many strong presumptions in its favour had been already furnished. Since, however, (the great fact) is proclaimed in so many inspired passages, that is so far a dissuasive against understanding it in a sense different from that which is attested by such arguments as persuade us to its reception, even irrespective of the testimonies of revelation. Let us see, then, first of all in what title this hope of ours is held out to our view. There is, I imagine, one divine edict which is exposed to the gaze of all men: it is The Resurrection of the Dead. These words are prompt, decisive, clear. I mean to take these very terms, discuss them, and discover to what substance they apply. As to the word resurrectio, whenever I hear of its impending over a human being, I am forced to inquire what part of him has been destined to fall, since nothing can be expected to rise again, unless it has first been prostrated. It is only the man who is ignorant of the fact that the flesh falls by death, that can fail to discover that it stands erect by means of life. Nature pronounces God's sentence: Dust you are, and unto dust shall you return. Genesis 3:19 Even the man who has not heard the sentence, sees the fact. No death but is the ruin of our limbs. This destiny of the body the Lord also described, when, clothed as He was in its very substance, He said, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again. John 2:19 For He showed to what belongs (the incidents of) being destroyed, thrown down, and kept down - even to that to which it also appertains to be lifted and raised up again; although He was at the same time bearing about with Him a soul that was trembling even unto death, Matthew 26:38 but which did not fall through death, because even the Scripture informs us that He spoke of His body. John 2:21 So that it is the flesh which falls by death; and accordingly it derives its name, cadaver, from cadendo. The soul, however, has no trace of a fall in its designation, as indeed there is no mortality in its condition. Nay it is the soul which communicates its ruin to the body when it is breathed out of it, just as it is also destined to raise it up again from the earth when it shall re-enter it. That cannot fall which by its entrance raises; nor can that droop which by its departure causes ruin. I will go further, and say that the soul does not even fall into sleep along with the body, nor does it with its companion even lie down in repose. For it is agitated in dreams, and disturbed: it might, however, rest, if it lay down; and lie down it certainly would, if it fell. Thus that which does not fall even into the likeness of death, does not succumb to the reality thereof. Passing now to the other word mortuorum, I wish you to look carefully, and see to what substance it is applicable. Were we to allow, under this head, as is sometimes held by the heretics, that the soul is mortal, so that being mortal it shall attain to a resurrection; this would afford a presumption that the flesh also, being no less mortal, would share in the same resurrection. But our present point is to derive from the proper signification of this word an idea of the destiny which it indicates. Now, just as the term resurrection is predicated of that which falls - that is, the flesh - so will there be the same application of the word dead, because what is called the resurrection of the dead indicates the rising up again of that which is fallen down. We learn this from the case of Abraham, the father of the faithful, a man who enjoyed close intercourse with God. For when he requested of the sons of Heth a spot to bury Sarah in, he said to them, Give me the possession of a burying place with you, that I may bury my dead, Genesis 23:4 - meaning, of course, her flesh; for he could not have desired a place to bury her soul in, even if the soul is to be deemed mortal, and even if it could bear to be described by the word dead. Since, then, this word indicates the body, it follows that when the resurrection of the dead is spoken of, it is the rising again of men's bodies that is meant.

Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
a sham in trials,; of faith Sider (2001) 87
angels; of satan Sider (2001) 87
apostle/s Tabbernee (2007) 344
baptism; described Sider (2001) 87
baptism; seal of Sider (2001) 87
books,montanist Tabbernee (2007) 344
canon of scripture Tabbernee (2007) 344
faith; profess Sider (2001) 87
heresy/heretics Tabbernee (2007) 344
maximilla Tabbernee (2007) 344
montanus Tabbernee (2007) 344
novelty (charge of ) Tabbernee (2007) 344
prisca/priscilla Tabbernee (2007) 344
prophetess,prophetesses Tabbernee (2007) 344
revelation,xii,; of montanists Sider (2001) 87
revelation Tabbernee (2007) 344
satan (devil); pomp of Sider (2001) 87
scripture,xii; hermeneutics of Sider (2001) 87
tertullian; as biblical exegete Sider (2001) 87
tertullian Tabbernee (2007) 344
unity Tabbernee (2007) 344
women and montanism xxix,xxxv' Tabbernee (2007) 344