Friday, July 18, 2014

VINCENT OF LERINS ON TERTULLIAN

LATIN TEXT: “...Sed et Tertulliani quoque eadem ratio est Nam sicut ille apud Graecos, ita hic apud Latinos nostrorum omnium facile princeps judicandus est. Quid enim hoc viro doctius, quid in divinis atque humanis rebus exercitatius? Nempe omnem philosophiam et cunctas philosophorum sectas, auctores, adsertoresque sectarum, omnesque eorum disciplinas, omnem historiarum ac studiorum varietatem mira quadam mentis capacitate complexus est. Ingenio vero nonne tam gravi ac vehementi excelluit ut sibi nihil pene ad expugnandum proposuerit quod non aut acumine inruperit, aut pondere eliserit? Jam porro orationis suae laudes quis exsequi valeat, quae, tanta nescio qua rationum necessitate concerta est ut ad consensum sui quos suadere non potuerit impellat; cujus quot pene verba, tot sententiae sunt; quot sensus, tot victoriae. Sciunt hoc Marciones, Apelles, Praxeae, Hermogenes, Judaei, Gentiles, Gnostici, caeterique; quorum ille blasphemias multis ac magnis voluminum suorum molibus, velut quibusdam fulminibus, evertit. Et tamen hic quoque post haec omnia, hic, inquam, Tertullianus, catholici dogmatis, id est, universalis ac vetustae fidei parum tenax, ac disertior multo quam felicior, mutata deinceps sententia, fecit ad extremum quod de eo beatus confessor Hilarius quodam loco scribit: Se quenti, inquit, errore detraxit scriptis probabilibus auctoritatem [28]. Et fuit ipse quoque in Ecclesia magna tentatio. Sed de hoc nolo plura dicere. Hoc tantum commemorabo, quod contra Moysi praeceptum exsurgentes in Ecclesia novellas Montani furias et insana illa insanarum mulierum novitii dogmatis somnia [29] veras prophetias adseverando, meruit ut de se quoque et scripturis suis diceretur: Si surrexerit in medio tui propheta. Et mox: Non audies verba prophetae illius. Quare? Quia, inquit, tentat vos Dominus vester utrum diligatis eum an non...” - (Chapter 18:46, “Commonitory” [Or: “Remembrancer”] by Vincent Lirinensis, “Adversus Profanas Omnium Novitates Haereticorum Commonitorium Cum Notis,” The Latin Library Text.)
[FOOTNOTE 28]: Hilarius in Matth. c. 5.
[FOOTNOTE 29]: Intelligit Priscillam et Maximillam, nobiles ac opulentas feminas, quae Ecclesias plures auro primum, deinde nefariis corrupere dogmatibus. De his ac Montano Prosper in Chronico ad Consulat. Cethegi et Clari, qui incidit in ann. Christi 170: «Hâc tempestate pseudoprophetia, quae Cataphrygas nominatur, accepit exordium, Montano auctore, Prisca Maximillaque insanis vatibus. Nomen errori Provincia Phrygia dedit, quia inventores ejus illic primitus exstiterunt, ibique vixerunt, et nunc etiam in eisdem partibus populos habent. Adventum Spiritus Sancti a Domino promissum, in se potius, quam in Apostolos fuisse asserunt: secundas nuptias pro fornicationibus habent; et ideo dicunt eas permisisse Apostolum Paulum, quia ex parte sciebat, et ex parte prophetabat; nondum enim venerat quod perfectum est. Hoc autem perfectum in Montanum, et in ejus prophetissas venisse delirant.» Vixit Tertullianus usque ad mediam aetatem Ecclesiae presbyter; «invidia postea, inquit Hieronymus in Catal. Scrip. Eccl. cap. 53, et contumeliis Clericorum Romanae Ecclesiae, ad Montani dogma delapsus, in multis libris meminit novae prophetiae: specialiter autem adversum Ecclesiam texuit volumina: de pudicitia, de persecutione, de jejuniis, de Monogamia, de extasi libros sex, et septimum quem adversus Apollonium composuit.» Dolendus sane hominis lapsus, quia Hieronymo eodem teste in Epist. ad Magnum, inter Latinos nihil Tertulliano eruditius, vel acutius; quando Apologeticus ejus, et contra Gentes libri, cunctam seculi obtinent disciplinam. Fertur vixisse usque ad decrepitam aetatem.
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VINCENT OF LERINS (died circa. 445 C.E.): “...The case is the same with Tertullian. For as Origen holds by far the first place among the Greeks, so does Tertullian among the Latins. For who more learned than he, who more versed in knowledge whether divine or human? With marvellous capacity of mind he comprehended all philosophy, and had a knowledge of all schools of philosophers, and of the founders and upholders of schools, and was acquainted with all their rules and observances, and with their various histories and studies. Was not his genius of such unrivalled strength and vehemence that there was scarcely any obstacle which he proposed to himself to overcome, that he did not penetrate by acuteness, or crush by weight? As to his style, who can sufficiently set forth its praise? It was knit together with so much cogency of argument that it compelled assent, even where it failed to persuade. Every word almost was a sentence; every sentence a victory. This know the Marcions, the Apelleses, the Praxeases, the Hermogeneses, the Jews, the Heathens, the Gnostics, and the rest, whose blasphemies he overthrew by the force of his many and ponderous volumes, as with so many thunderbolts. Yet this man also, notwithstanding all that I have mentioned, this Tertullian, I say, too little tenacious of Catholic doctrine, that is, of the universal and ancient faith, MORE ELOQUENT BY FAR THAN FAITHFUL, CHANGED HIS BELIEF, and justified what the blessed Confessor, Hilary, writes of him, namely, that: “By his subsequent error he detracted from the authority of his approved writings.” He also was a great trial in the Church. But of Tertullian I am unwilling to say more. This only I will add, that, contrary to the injunction of Moses, by asserting the novel furies of Montanus which arose in the Church, and those mad dreams of new doctrine dreamed by mad women, to be true prophecies, he deservedly made both himself and his writings obnoxious to the words, "If there arise a prophet in the midst of you," you shall not hearken to the words of that prophet. For why? "Because the Lord your God does make trial of you, whether you love Him or not...” - (Chapter 18:46, "Commonitory" [or "Remembrancer"], Translated by C.A. Heurtley. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 11. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1894.)
[FOOTNOTE]: The date of the writing of the Commonitory is held to be 434 C.E.

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