The Ancient Library

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tizens. He concludes by replying to some assailants who were content to disparage Christianity by re­presenting it as merely a new form of philosophy, whose doctrines were either borrowed from the speculations of others, or, when original, were less brilliant and impressive than those enforced by the older theorists. It is urged against this, in the first place, that the effect produced by Christianity upon the lives and characters of its votaries was of a description very different from and very superior to that which resulted from the discipline of any philosophic sect, and, in the second place, that those who looked upon Christianity in this light were bound, at least, to extend to it the same tole­ration which they granted to all other schools.

28. Ad Nationes Libri II. The apology is ad­dressed specially to the Roman magistrates : these books appear to be intended to prove, in like manner, to the satisfaction of the heathen public in general, that the prejudices cherished towards the Christians were altogether groundless, and that the charges of immorality, vice, and unnatural cruelty, preferred against them by their enemies were abso­lutely false and calumnious. The second book which is devoted to an exposition of the absurdity of the popular theology, of the gods whom the vulgar worshipped, and of the rites which they celebrated, is from the nature of the subject, and from the number of curious facts which it records, particularly interesting, but is unfortunately in a very mutilated condition. Indeed from the nume­rous blanks and imperfections which occur through­out, and from the circumstance that many of the arguments employed'are identical, both in substance, and frequently in words, with those introduced in the Apology, it has been conjectured that the latter ought to be regarded as the finished performance of which this treatise is merely a rough draught, never intended to form a separate or complete work.

29. De Testimonio Animae. A developement of the argument for the unity of God and the reality of a future state, derived from the innate perceptions and feelings of the soul. We find in the fifth chapter a reference to the Apology.

30. De Pallio. Tertullian having exchanged the ordinary garment, which he had hitherto worn in common with his fellow-citizens, for the Pallium, and having been ridiculed in consequence, here defends himself, by arguing that there is nothing unnatural nor unprecedented in a change of dress, and that the garb in question was peculiarly con­venient and suitable for those who desired to avoid all vain display in the decoration of their person. But to what class of persons the Pallium properly belonged, whether it was the habit assumed by philosophers in general, or by Christians as a body, or by presbyters only, or by those who laid claim to peculiar sanctity and austerity, are questions to which no one has yet been able to make a satis­factory reply. According to the views entertained upon this point the date of the piece has been variously determined. Some would refer it to the time when the author first embraced Christianity, others to the epoch of his ordination as a priest, others to the period of his conversion to Montanism. Neander supposes that he assumed the peculiar dress of the ascetics upon the death of his wife, and imagines that Severus, Caracalla and Geta, are indicated by the words *4 Praesentis imperii triplex virtus," an expression which has been differently interpreted by others.



31. Adversus Hermogenem. Hermogenes was an African, a painter by profession, who at one time had been an orthodox believer, but having fallen away from the faith now maintained, that God had not created the universe out of nothing, and agreed with the Stoics in the dogma that matter had existed from all eternity.

The merits of Tertullian as an author are of a very chequered character. He evidently was deeply imbued with all the learning of the age to which he belonged, and was familiar with the most cele­brated poets, historians, jurists, orators, and philo­sophers of Greece and Rome. Nor, indeed, does he manifest any inclination to dissemble these accomplishments, for he perpetually calls to his aid illustrations and technicalities borrowed from every department of literature and science, dazzling us with a pompous array of opinions and authorities. But while it is impossible to question his erudition, no one can defend his style, which exhibits in a most repulsive form the worst faults of an ill-cultivated taste. It is in the highest degree rough, abrupt, and obscure, abounding in far-fetched me­taphors and extravagant hyperboles, while the language is oftentimes uncouth and almost bar­barous, so that the most indulgent critic feels inclined to turn away in disgust from pages where he is perpetually shocked, startled, and perplexed. On the other hand, the extreme liveliness and fertility of his imagination, the piercing sharpness of his wit, the trenchant edge of his sarcasm, the impetuous force of his arguments, which bewilder and stun even when they fail to convince, and the torrent flood of brilliant declamation in which his glowing conceptions are poured forth, at once excite, amuse, and overwhelm the reader.

His authority as a theologian has been variously estimated by ecclesiastical writers. While some appeal with confidence to his decision in all matters of controversy, not immediately connected with his peculiar views, others branding him with the title of a perverse heretic reject his testimony, upon all points alike, as altogether worthless. It seems absolutely necessary in this matter, if we would arrive at a fair and practical conclusion, to separate opinions from facts. The'opinions of Tertullian, even when expressed at a period when his ortho­doxy was beyond suspicion, bear such evident marks of an excitable temperament, and of rash impetuosity, combined with harsh and gloomy asce­ticism, that they ought to have been received with distrust, even if he had never become the advocate of gross errors ; but when we remember the ab­surdities into which he was, at a subsequent period, actually betrayed, we must consider his judgment as disabled. At the same time, since we have not the slightest reason to suspect that he was ever guilty of wilful deception or misrepresentation, we may accept, without hesitation, the facts which he records. How large a mass of most curious and valuable information on the doctrine and discipline of the church in the second and third centuries may be collected from his works, will be at once seen by consulting the very able and elaborate analysis by the Bishop of Lincoln. The conduct of Cyprian is at once characteristic and instructive. It is recorded that he never allowed a day to pass without reading a portion of Tertullian, and that he was wont frequently to exclaim to his confi­dential attendants, " give me my master." But although the cautious prelate doubtless derived

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