Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Tertullian, fully Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullian NULL

Carthaginian Church Father and Ecclesiastical Writer

"He who flees will fight again."

"Every creation is subject to recurrence. Every thing you meet had a previous existence: whatever you have lost will come again. Every thing comes a second time: all things return to a settled position when they have gone away, all things begin when they have ceased to be. They are brought to an end in order that they may come into being: nothing is lost except that it may be recovered. All this revolving order of things, therefore, is evidence of the resurrection of the dead. God ordained it in works before He commanded it in writing, He proclaimed it by strength before he proclaimed it in words. He first sent you nature as teacher, intending to send you prophecy also, in order that having learnt from nature, you may the more easily believe prophecy."

"Time reveals everything."

"All things will be in danger of being taken in a sense different from their own proper sense, and, whilst taken in that different sense, of losing their proper one, if they are called by a name which differs from their natural designation. Fidelity in names secures the safe appreciation of properties."

"Arguments about Scripture achieve nothing but a stomachache and a headache."

"But overlooking the divine exhortations, they act rather upon that Greek verse of worldly significance, "He who flees will fight again," and that perhaps to betake himself again to fight."

"But this is the usual way with perverse and ignorant heretics; yes, and by this time even with Psychics universally: to arm themselves with the opportune support of someone ambiguous passage, in opposition to the disciplined host of sentences of the entire document."

"Divorce these days is a religious vow, as if the proper offspring of marriage."

"But we prefer, if it must be so, to be less wise in the Scriptures, than to be wise against them. We are as much bound to keep the sense of the Lord as His precept. Transgression in interpretation is not lighter than in conversation."

"Daily, every moment, prayer is necessary to men."

"Certainly nothing is difficult for God: but if in our assumptions we so rashly make use of this judgment, we shall"

"Even now, the declarations of the Lord have reasons and laws of their own. They are not of unlimited or universal application."

"Examine then, and see if He be not the dispenser of kingdoms, who is Lord at once of the world which is ruled, and of man himself who rules; if He have not ordained the changes of dynasties, with their appointed seasons, who was before all time, and made the world a body of times; if the rise and the fall of states are not the work of Him, under whose sovereignty the human race once existed without states at all."

"Fear is the foundation of safety."

"Faith, withal, has a familiar acquaintance with sundry appellations. So, in every one of our little works, we carefully guard usage."

"Figures are one thing; laws another. Images are one thing; statutes another. Images pass away when fulfilled: statutes remain permanently to be fulfilled. Images prophesy: statutes govern."

"For by the fear of vengeance all iniquity is curbed. But if license is allowed to it without discrimination, it will get the mastery----it will put out (a man's) both eyes; it will knock out every tooth in the safety of its impunity. This, however, is (the principle) of your good and simply beneficent god----to do a wrong to patience, to open the door to violence, to leave the righteous undefended, and the wicked unrestrained!"

"For reason is a property of God's, since there is nothing which God, the creator of all things, has not foreseen, arranged and determined by reason; moreover, there is nothing He does not wish to be investigated and understood by reason."

"For it is really better for us not to know a thing, because [God] has not revealed it to us, than to know it according to man’s wisdom, because he has been bold enough to assume it."

"From my store are clothed the first teacher of the forms of letters, the first explainer of their sounds, the first trainer in the rudiments of arithmetic, the grammarian, the rhetorician, the sophist, the medical man, the poet, the musical time-beater, the astrologer, and the bird-gazer. All that is liberal in studies is covered by my four angles."

"God is everywhere, and the goodness of God is everywhere; demons are everywhere, and the cursing of them is everywhere; the invocation of divine judgment is everywhere, death is everywhere, and the sense of death is everywhere, and all the world over is found the witness of the soul."

"He who lives only to benefit himself confers on the world a benefit when he dies."

"He who flees will fight again."

"For the show always leads to spiritual agitation."

"I must dispel vanity with vanity."

"I shall dispel one empty story by another."

"I think to us it is no more lawful to hurt (a child) in process of birth, than one (already) born."

"If I give you a rose you will not disdain its creator."

"In this manner heretics either wrest plain and simple words to any sense they choose by their conjectures, or else they violently resolve by a literal interpretation words which imply a conditional sense and are incapable of a simple solution, as in this passage."

"Hope is patience with the lamp lit."

"How shall we fashion to us friends from mammon, if we love it so much as not to put up with its loss? We shall perish together with the lost mammon. Why do we find here, where it is our business to lose?"

"I believe because it is impossible."

"I believe it because it is absurd."

"I demand reason in his [Marcion's god] goodness, because nothing ought to be accounted good which is not rationally good: far less should goodness itself be found irrational. It will be easier for evil, vouched for by some manner of reason, to be mistaken for good, than for good abandoned by reason to escape condemnation as evil."

"Indeed heresies are themselves instigated by philosophy."

"It is better to keep children to their duty, by a sense of honor, and by kindness, than by fear and punishment."

"It is certain because it is impossible"

"Indeed for us murder is forbidden once and for all, so it is not permitted even to destroy what is conceived in the womb. To prohibit the birth of a child is only a faster way to murder; it makes little difference whether one destroys a life already born or prevents it from coming to birth. It is a human being, who is to be a human being, for the whole fruit is already present in the seed."

"Man is one name belonging to every nation upon earth. In them all is one soul though many tongues. Every country has its own language, yet the subjects of which the untutored soul speaks are the same everywhere."

"Indeed it is better to postpone, lest either we complete too little by hurrying, or wander too long in completing it."

"It is to be believed because it is absurd."

"It is easier (of belief) that that one passage should have some explanation agreeable with the others, than that an apostle should seem to have taught (principles) mutually diverse."

"It is certainly no part of religion to compel religion."

"It is wholly credible, because it is unsuitable."

"No-one is born for another, being destined to die for himself."

"Nothing else can properly be accounted good than that which is rationally good; much less can goodness itself be detected in any irrationality. More easily will an evil thing which has something rational belonging to it be accounted good, than that a good thing bereft of all reasonable quality should escape being regarded as evil."

"Nature soaks every evil with either fear or shame."

"Nothing that is unjust can be good, and everything that is just is bound to be good."

"Nothing that is evil is necessary."

"Nothing that is God's is obtainable by money."