Source text (please read only from this text!):In the latter part of the second and in the former part of the third century there flourished at Carthage the famous Tertullian, the first Latin writer of the church whose works are come down to us. All his writings betray a sour, monastic, harsh, and severe turn of mind. "Touch not, taste not, handle not," might seem to have been the maxims of his religious conduct. The abilities of Tertullian, as an orator and a scholar, are far from being contemptible, and have doubtless given him a reputation to which his theological knowledge by no means entitles him. Yet the man seems always in good earnest, and therefore much more estimable than thousands who would take a pleasure in despising him, while they themselves are covered with profaneness. It is not for us to condemn, after all, a man who certainly honoured Christ, defended several fundamental Christian doctrines, took large pains in supporting what he took to be true religion, and ever meant to serve God. The Montanists, whose austerities were extreme, and whose enthusiasm was real, seduced at length our severe African, and he not only joined them, but wrote in their defence, and treated the body of christians from whom he separated with much contempt. He, in a great measure, left the Montanists afterwards, and formed a sect of his own, called Tertullianists, who continued in Africa till Augustine's time, by whose labours their existence, as a sect, was brought to a close. (Summary by Joseph Milner)
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