Chapter XIV.—Tertullian Pushes His Opponent into a Dilemma.
Now, if it be also argued, that although Matter may have afforded Him the opportunity, it was still His own will which led Him to the creation of good creatures, as having detected 6264 what was good in matter—although this, too, be a discreditable supposition 6265 —yet, at any rate, when He produces evil likewise out of the same (Matter), He is a servant to Matter, since, of course, 6266 it is not of His own accord that He produces this too, having nothing else that He can do than to effect creation out of an evil stock 6267 —unwillingly, no p. 485 doubt, as being good; of necessity, too, as being unwilling; and as an act of servitude, because from necessity. Which, then, is the worthier thought, that He created evil things of necessity, or of His own accord? Because it was indeed of necessity that He created them, if out of Matter; of His own accord, if out of nothing. For you are now labouring in vain when you try to avoid making God the Author of evil things; because, since He made all things of Matter, they will have to be ascribed to Himself, who made them, just because 6268 He made them. Plainly the interest of the question, whence He made all things, identifies itself with (the question), whether He made all things out of nothing; and it matters not whence He made all things, so that He made all things thence, whence most glory accrued to Him. 6269 Now, more glory accrued to Him from a creation of His own will than from one of necessity; in other words, from a creation out of nothing, than from one out of Matter. It is more worthy to believe that God is free, even as the Author of evil, than that He is a slave. Power, whatever it be, is more suited to Him than infirmity. 6270 If we thus even admit that matter had nothing good in it, but that the Lord produced whatever good He did produce of His own power, then some other questions will with equal reason arise. First, since there was no good at all in Matter, it is clear that good was not made of Matter, on the express ground indeed that Matter did not possess it. Next, if good was not made of Matter, it must then have been made of God; if not of God, then it must have been made of nothing.—For this is the alternative, on Hermogenes own showing. 6271
We subjoin the original of this sentence: “Plane sic interest unde fecerit ac si de nihilo fecisset, nec interest uned fecerit, ut inde fecerit unde eum magis decuit.”485:6270
Secundum Hermogenis dispositionem.