Anf-03 v.iii.xlv Pg 5
In adopting this expression from the Roman Law, Tertullian has simply puzzled beginners to get at his idea. Nor do they learn much when it is called a demurrer, which, if I comprehend the word as used in law-cases, is a rejoinder to the testimony of the other party, amounting to—“Well, what of it? It does not prove your case.” Something like this is indeed in Tertullian’s use of the term præscription; but Dr. Holmes furnishes what seems to me the best explanation, (though he only half renders it,) “the Prescriptive Rule against Heresies.” In a word, it means, “the Rule of Faith asserted against Heresies.” And his practical point is, it is useless to discuss Scripture with convicted (Titus iii. 10, 11.) heretics; every one of them is ready with “his psalm, his doctrine, his interpretation,” and you may argue fruitlessly till Doomsday. But bring them to the test of (Quod Semper, etc.), the apostolic præscription (1 Corinthians xi. 16).—We have no such custom neither the Churches of God. State this Rule of Faith, viz. Holy Scripture, as interpreted from the apostolic day: if it proves the doctrine or custom a novelty, then it has no foundation, and even if it be harmless, it cannot be innocently professed against the order and peace of the churches.