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Chapter VII.—If God Had Anyhow Checked Man’s Liberty, Marcion Would Have Been Ready with Another and Opposite Cavil. Man’s Fall Foreseen by God. Provision Made for It Remedially and Consistently with His Truth and Goodness.

By such a conclusion all is reserved28012801    Salva. unimpaired to God; both His natural goodness, and the purposes of His governance and foreknowledge, and the abundance of His power. You ought, however, to deduct from God’s attributes both His supreme earnestness of purpose28022802    Gravitatem. and most excellent truth in His whole creation, if you would cease to inquire whether anything could have happened against the will of God. For, while holding this earnestness and truth of the good God, which are indeed28032803    Sed, for scilicet, not unfrequent with our author. capable of proof from the rational creation, you will not wonder at the fact that God did not interfere to prevent the occurrence of what He wished not to happen, in order that He might keep from harm what He wished. For, since He had once for all allowed (and, as we have shown, worthily allowed) to man freedom of will and mastery of himself, surely He from His very authority in creation permitted these gifts to be enjoyed: to be enjoyed, too, so far as lay in Himself, according to His own character as God, that is, for good (for who would permit anything hostile to himself?); and, so far as lay in man, according to the impulses of his liberty (for who does not, when giving anything to any one to enjoy, accompany the gift with a permission to enjoy it with all his heart and will?). The necessary consequence,28042804    That is, from the Marcionite position referred to in the second sentence of this chapter, in opposition to that of Tertullian which follows. therefore, was, that God must separate from the liberty which He had once for all bestowed upon man (in other words, keep within Himself), both His foreknowledge and power, through which He might have prevented man’s falling into danger when attempting wrongly to enjoy his liberty. Now, if He had interposed, He would have rescinded the liberty of man’s will, which He had permitted with set purpose, and in goodness. But, suppose God had interposed; suppose Him to have abrogated man’s liberty, by warning him from the tree, and keeping off the subtle serpent from his interview with the woman; would not Marcion then exclaim, What a frivolous, unstable, and faithless Lord, cancelling the gifts He had bestowed!  Why did He allow any liberty of will, if He afterwards withdrew it? Why withdraw it after allowing it? Let Him choose where to brand Himself with error, either in His original constitution of man, or in His subsequent abrogation thereof! If He had checked (man’s freedom), would He not then seem to have been rather deceived, through want of foresight into the future? But in giving it full scope, who would not say that He did so in ignorance of the issue of things? God, however, did foreknow that man would make a bad use of his created constitution; and yet what can be so worthy of God as His earnestness of purpose, and the truth of His created works, be they what they may?  Man must see, if he failed to make the most of28052805    Si non bene dispunxisset. the good gift he had received, how that he was himself guilty in respect of the law which he did not choose to keep, and not that the Lawgiver was committing a fraud against His own law, by not permitting its injunctions to be fulfilled. Whenever you are inclined to indulge in such censure28062806    Peroraturus. (and it is the most becoming for you) against the Creator, recall gently to your mind in His behalf28072807    Tibi insusurra pro Creatore. His earnestness, and endurance, and truth, in having given completeness28082808    Functo. to His creatures both as rational and good.


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