Matt. 5:33-37 (Part 3)

TERTULLIAN: I see some women turn the color of their hair with saffron. They are ashamed even of their own nation, ashamed that their procreation did not assign them to Germany and to Gaul: thus, as it is, they transfer their hair there! Ill, yes, most ill, do they herald for themselves with their flame-colored head, and think that graceful which in fact they are polluting! No, moreover, the force of the cosmetics burns ruin into the hair; and the constant application of even any undrugged moisture, lays up a store of harm for the head; while the sun’s warmth, too, so desirable for imparting to the hair at once growth and dryness, is hurtful. What “grace” is compatible with “injury?” What “beauty” with “impurities?” Shall a Christian woman heap saffron on her head, as upon an altar? . . . But, God says, “Which of you can make a white hair black, or out of a black a white?” And so they refute the Lord! On the Apparel of Women, 4.21.

CYPRIAN: Are sincerity and truth preserved, when what is sincere is polluted by adulterous colors, and what is true is changed into a lie by deceitful dyes? Your Lord says, “You cannot make one hair white or black;” and you, in order to overcome the word of your Lord, will be more mighty than He, and stain your hair with a daring endeavor and with profane contempt. With evil foreshadow of the future, you make a beginning to yourself already of flame-colored hair; and sin (oh, wickedness!) with your head—that is, with the nobler part of your body! And although it is written of the Lord, “His head and His hair were white like wool or snow,” you curse that whiteness and hate that hoariness which is like the Lord’s head. The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.434.

5:37 TERTULLIAN: It is incredible that the apostles could have been such men as to bring in some other rule of faith [as the heretics teach], differing from and contrary to that which they were proclaiming through the catholic churches, as if they spoke of one God in the Church, and another at home, and described one substance of Christ, publicly, and another secretly, and announced one hope of the resurrection before all men, and another before the few; although they themselves, in their epistles, besought men that they would all speak one and the same thing, and that there should be no divisions and dissensions in the church, seeing that they, whether Paul or others, preached the same things. Moreover, they remembered the words: “Let your communication be yes, yes; no, no; for whatever is more than this comes of evil;” so that they were not to handle the gospel in a diversity of treatment. The Prescription Against Heretics, 3.255-256. 

TERTULLIAN: Light is light; and darkness, darkness; yes is yes; and no, no; “whatever is more than these comes of evil.”
On the Flesh of Christ, 3.541.

TERTULLIAN: Always bear in mind that this is the rule of faith which I profess; by it I testify that the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit are inseparable from each other, and so you will know in what sense this is said. Now, observe, my assertion is that the Father is one, and the Son one, and the Spirit one, and that They are distinct from Each Other. This statement is taken in a wrong sense by every uneducated as well as every perversely disposed person, as if it predicated a diversity, in such a sense as to imply a separation among the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit. I am, moreover, obliged to say this, when (extolling the Monarchy at the expense of the Economy) they contend for the identity of the Father and Son and Spirit, that it is not by way of diversity that the Son differs from the Father, but by distribution: it is not by division that He is different, but by distinction; because the Father is not the same as the Son, since they differ one from the other in the mode of their being. For the Father is the entire substance, but the Son is a derivation and portion of the whole, as He Himself acknowledges: “My Father is greater than I.” In the Psalm His inferiority is described as being “a little lower than the angels.” Thus the Father is distinct from the Son, being greater than the Son, inasmuch as He who begets is one, and He who is begotten is another; He, too, who sends is one, and He who is sent is another; and He, again, who makes is one, and He through whom the thing is made is another. Happily the Lord Himself employs this expression of the person of the Paraclete, so as to signify not a division or severance, but a disposition (of mutual relations in the Godhead); for He says, “I will pray the Father, and He shall send you another Comforter . . . even the Spirit of truth,” thus making the Paraclete distinct from Himself, even as we say that the Son is also distinct from the Father; so that He showed a third degree in the Paraclete, as we believe the second degree is in the Son, by reason of the order observed in the Economy. Besides, does not the very fact that they have the distinct names of Father and Son amount to a declaration that they are distinct in personality? For, of course, all things will be what their names represent them to be; and what they are and ever will be, that will they be called; and the distinction indicated by the names does not at all admit of any confusion, because there is none in the things which they designate. “Yes is yes, and no is no; for what is more than these, comes of evil.” Against Praxeas, 3.603-604.26

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Again, with the Lord’s saying, “Let your yes be yes, and your no be no,” may be compared the following: “But to admit a falsehood, and destroy a truth, is in nowise lawful.” With the prohibition, also, against swearing agrees the saying in the tenth book of the Laws of Plato: “Let praise and an oath in everything be absent.” The Stromata, 2.468.

CYPRIAN: It is not fitting for the dignity of priests to be blamed for the levity of a changeable and inconstant mind, when the Lord teaches and says, “Let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no.” The Epistles of Clement, 5.344.

LACTANTIUS: It is a part of the same law not to utter false witness, and this also itself has a wider meaning. For if false witness by falsehood is injurious to him against whom it is spoken, and deceives him in whose presence it is spoken, we must therefore never speak falsely, because falsehood always deceives or injures. Therefore he is not a just man who, even without inflicting injury, speaks in idle discourse. Nor indeed is it lawful for him to flatter, for flattery is pernicious and deceitful; but he will everywhere guard the truth. The Epitome of the Divine Institutes, 7.249.

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