The heretics against whom this work is directed, were the same who maintained that the demiurge, or the god who created this world and gave the Mosaic dispensation, was opposed to the supreme God. Hence they attached an idea of inherent corruption and worthlessness to all his works-amongst the rest, to the flesh or body of man; affirming that it could not rise again, and that the soul alone was capable of inheriting immortality.(1)
[Translated by Dr. Holmes.]
Chapter I.-The Doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body Brought to Light by the Gospel. The Faintest Glimpses of Something Like It Occasionally Met with in Heathenism. Inconsistencies of Pagan Teaching.
The resurrection of the dead is the Christian's trust.(2) By it we are believers. To the belief of this (article of the faith) truth compels us-that truth which God reveals, but the crowd derides, which supposes that nothing will survive after death. And yet they do honour(3) to their dead, and that too in the most expensive way according to their bequest, and with the daintiest banquets which the seasons can produce,(4) on the presumption that those whom they declare to be incapable of all perception still retain an appetite.(5) But (let the crowd deride): I on my side must deride it still more, especially when it burns up its dead with harshest inhumanity, only to pamper them immediately afterwards with gluttonous satiety, using the selfsame fires to honour them and to insult them. What piety is that which mocks its victims with cruelty? Is it sacrifice or insult (which the crowd offers), when it burns its offerings to those it has already burnt?(6) But the wise, too, join with the vulgar crowd in their opinion sometimes. There is nothing after death, according to the school of Epicurus. After death all things come to an end, even death itself, says Seneca to like effect. It is satisfactory, however, that the no less important philosophy of Pythagoras and Empedocles, and the Plantonists, take the contrary view, and declare the soul to be immortal; affirming, moreover, in a way which most nearly approaches (to our own doctrine),(7) that the soul actually returns into bodies, although not the same bodies, and not even those of human beings invariably: thus Euphorbus is supposed to have passed into Phythagoras, and Homer into a peacock. They firmly pronounced the soul's renewal(8) to be in a body,(9) (deeming it) more tolerable to change the quality (of the corporeal state)than to deny it wholly: they at least knocked at the door of truth, although they entered not. Thus the world, with all its errors, does not ignore the resurrection of the dead.
Chapter II.-The Jewish Sadducees a Link Between the Pagan Philosophers and the Heretics on This Doctrine. Its Fundamental Importance Asserted. The Soul Fares Better Than the Body, in Heretical Estimation, as to Its Future State. Its Extinction, However, Was Held by One Lucan.
Since there is even within the confines of God's Church(10) a sect which is more nearly allied to the Epicureans than to the prophets, an opportunity is afforded us of knowing(11) what estimate Christ forms of the (said sect, even the) Sadducees. For to Christ was it reserved to lay bare everything which before was concealed: to impart certainty to doubtful points; to accomplish those of which men had had but a foretaste; to give present reality to the objects of prophecy; and to furnish not only by Himself, but actually in Himself, certain proofs of the resurrection of the dead. It is, however, against other Sadducees that we have now to prepare ourselves, but still partakers of their doctrine. For instance, they allow a moiety of the resurrection; that is, simply of the soul, despising the flesh, just as they also do the Lord of the flesh Himself. No other persons, indeed, refuse to concede to the substance of the body its recovery from death,(12) heretical inventors of a second deity. Driven then, as they are, to give a different dispensation to Christ, so that He may not be accounted as belonging to the Creator, they have achieved their first error in the article of His very flesh; contending with Marcion and Basilides that it possessed no reality; or else holding, after the heretical tenets of Valentinus, and according to Apelles, that it had qualities peculiar to itself. And so it follows that they shut out from all recovery from death that substance of which they say that Christ did not partake, confidently assuming that it furnishes the strongest presumption against the resurrection, since the flesh is already risen in Christ. Hence it is that we have ourselves previously issued our volume On the flesh of Christ; in which we both furnish proofs of its reality,(13) in opposition to the idea of its being a vain phantom; and claim for it a human nature without any peculiarity of condition-such a nature as has marked out Christ to be both man and the Son of man. For when we prove Him to be invested with the flesh and in a bodily condition, we at the same time refute heresy, by establishing the rule that no other being than the Creator must be believed to be God, since we show that Christ, in whom God is plainly discerned, is precisely of such a nature as the Creator promised that He should be. Being thus refuted touching God as the Creator, and Christ as the Redeemer of the flesh, they will at once be defeated also on the resurrection of the flesh. No procedure, indeed, can be more reasonable. And we affirm that controversy with heretics should in most cases be conducted in this way. For due method requires that conclusions should always be drawn from the most important premises, in order that there be a prior agreement on the essential point, by means of which the particular question under review may be said to have been determined. Hence it is that the heretics, from their conscious weakness, never conduct discussion in an orderly manner. They are well aware how hard is their task in insinuating the existence of a second god, to the disparagement of the Creator of the world, who is known to all men naturally by the testimony of His works, who is before all others in the mysteries(14) of His being, and is especially manifested in the prophets;(15) then, under the pretence of considering a more urgent inquiry, namely man's own salvation-a question which transcends all others in its importance-they begin with doubts about the resurrection; for there is greater difficulty in believing the resurrection of the flesh than the oneness of the Deity. In this way, after they have deprived the discussion of the advantages of its logical order, and have embarrassed it with doubtful insinuations(16) in disparagement of the flesh, they gradually draw their argument to the reception of a second god after destroying and changing the very ground of our hopes. For when once a man Is fallen or removed from the sure hope which he had placed in the Creator, he is easily led away to the object of a different hope, whom however of his own accord he can hardly help suspecting. Now it is by a discrepancy in the promises that a difference of gods is insinuated. How many do we thus see drawn into the net vanquished on the resurrection of the flesh, before they could carry their point on the oneness of the Deity! In respect, then, of the heretics, we have shown with what weapons we ought to meet them. And indeed we have already encountered them in treatises severally directed against them: on the one only God and His Christ, in our work against Marcion,(17) on the Lord's flesh, in our book against the four heresies,(18) for the special purpose of opening the way to the present inquiry: so that we have now only to discuss the resurrection of the flesh, (treating it) just as if it were uncertain in regard to ourselves also, that is, in the system of the Creator.(19) Because many persons are uneducated; still more are of faltering faith, and several are weak-minded: these will have to be instructed, directed, strengthened, inasmuch as the very oneness of the Godhead will be defended along with the maintenance of our doctrine.(20) For if the resurrection of the flesh be denied, that prime article of the faith is shaken; if it be asserted, that is established. There is no need, I suppose, to treat of the soul's safety; for nearly all the heretics, in whatever way they conceive of it, certainly refrain from denying that. We may ignore a certain Lucan,(21) who does not spare even this part of our nature, which he follows Aristotle in reducing to dissolution, and substitutes some other thing in lieu of it. Some third nature it is which, according to him, is to rise again, neither soul nor flesh; in other words, not man, but a bear perhaps-for instance, Lucan himself.(22) Even he(23) has received from us a copious notice in our book on the entire condition of the soul,(24) the especial immortality of which we there maintain, whilst we also both acknowledge the dissolution of the flesh alone, and emphatically assert its restitution. Into the body of that work were collected whatever points we elsewhere had to reserve from the pressure of incidental causes. For as it is my custom to touch some questions but lightly on their first occurrence, so I am obliged also to postpone the consideration of them, until the outline can be filled in with complete detail, and the deferred points be taken up on their own merits.
Chapter III.-Some Truths Held Even by the Heathen, They Were, However, More Often Wrong Both in Religious Opinions and in Moral Practice. The Heathen Not to Be Followed in Their Ignorance of the Christian Mystery. The Heretics Perversely Prone to Follow Them.
One may no doubt be wise in the things of God, even from one's natural powers, but only in witness to the truth, not in maintenance of error; (only) when one acts in accordance with, not in opposition to, the divine dispensation. For some things are known even by nature: the immortality of the soul, for instance, is held by many; the knowledge of our God is possessed by all. I may use, therefore, the opinion of a Plato, when he declares, "Every soul is immortal." I may use also the conscience of a nation, when it attests the God of gods. I may, in like manner, use all the other intelligences of our common nature, when they pronounce God to be a judge. "God sees," (say they); and, "I commend you to God."(25) But when they say, "What has undergone death is dead," and, "Enjoy life whilst you live," and, "After death all things come to an end, even death itself; "then I must remember both that "the heart of man is ashes,"(26) according to the estimate of God, and that the very "Wisdom of the world is foolishness," (as the inspired word) pronounces it to be.(27) Then, if even the heretic seek refuge in the depraved thoughts of the vulgar, or the imaginations of the world, I must say to him: Part company with the heathen, O heretic! for although you are all agreed in imagining a God, yet while you do so in the name of Christ, so long as you deem yourself a Christian, you are a different man from a heathen: give him back his own views of things, since he does not himself learn from yours. Why lean upon a blind guide, if you have eyes of your own? Why be clothed by one who is naked, if you have put on Christ? Why use the shield of another, when the apostle gives you armour of your own? It would be better for him to learn from you to acknowledge the resurrection of the flesh, than for you from him to deny it; because if Christians must needs deny it, it would be sufficient if they did so from their own knowledge, without any instruction from the ignorant multitude. He, therefore, will not be a Christian who shall deny this doctrine which is confessed by Christians; denying it, moreover, on grounds which are adopted by a man who is not a Christian. Take away, indeed, from the heretics the wisdom which they share with the heathen, and let them support their inquiries from the Scriptures alone: they will then be unable to keep their ground. For that which commends men's common sense is its very simplicity, and its participation in the same feelings, and its community of opinions; and it is deemed to be all the more trustworthy, inasmuch as its definitive statements are naked and open, and known to all. Divine reason, on the contrary, lies in the very pith and marrow of things, not on the surface, and very often is at variance with appearances.
Hence it is that heretics start at once from this point,(28) from which they sketch the first draft of their dogmas, and afterwards add the details, being well aware how easily men's minds are caught by its influence, (and actuated) by that community of human sentiment which is so favourable to their designs. Is there anything else that you can hear of from the heretic, as also from the heathen, earlier in time or greater in extent? Is not (their burden) from the beginning and everywhere an invective against the flesh-against its origin, against its substance, against the casualties and the invariable end which await it; unclean from its first formation of the dregs of the ground, uncleaner afterwards from the mire of its own seminal transmission; worthless,(29) weak, covered with guilt, laden with misery, full of trouble; and after all this record of its degradation, dropping into its original earth and the appellation of a corpse, and destined to dwindle away even from this(30) loathsome name into none henceforth at all-into the very death of all designation? Now you are a shrewd man, no doubt: will you then persuade yourself, that after this flesh has been withdrawn from sight, and touch, and memory, it can never be rehabilitated from corruption to integrity, from a shattered to a solid State, from an empty to a full condition, from nothing at all to something-the devouring fires, and the waters of the sea, and the maws of beasts, and the crops of birds and the stomachs of fishes, and time's own great paunch(31) itself of course yielding it all up again? Shall the same flesh which has fallen to decay be so expected to recover, as that the lame, and the one-eyed, and the blind, and the leper, and the palsied shall come back again, although there can be no pleasure in returning to their old condition? Or shall they be whole, and so have to fear exposure to such sufferings? What, in that case, (must we say) of the consequences of resuming the flesh? Will it again be subject to all its present wants, especially meats and drinks? Shall we have with our lungs to float (in air or water),(32) and suffer pain in our bowels, and with organs of shame to feel no shame, and with all our limbs to toil and labour? Must there again be ulcers, and wounds, and fever, and gout, and once more the wishing to die? Of course these will be the longings incident on the recovery of the flesh, only the repetition of desires to escape out of it. Well now, we have (stated) all this in very subdued and delicate phrases, as suited to the character of our style; but (would you know) how great a licence of unseemly language these men actually use, you must test them in their conferences, whether they be heathens or heretics.
Inasmuch as all uneducated men, therefore, still form their opinions after these common-sense views, and as the falterers and the weak-minded have a renewal of their perplexities occasioned by the selfsame views; and as the first battering-ram which is directed against ourselves is that which shatters the condition of the flesh, we must on our side necessarily so manage our defences, as to guard, first of all, the condition of the flesh, their disparagement of it being repulsed by our own eulogy. The heretics, therefore, challenged us to use our rhetoric no less than our philosophy. Respecting, then, this frail and poor, worthless body, which they do not indeed hesitate to call evil, even if it had been the work of angels, as Menander and Marcus are pleased to think, or the formation of some fiery being, an angel, as Apelles teaches, it would be quite enough for securing respect for the body, that it had the support and protection of even a secondary deity. The angels, we know, rank next to God. Now, whatever be the supreme God of each heretic, I should not unfairly derive the dignity of the flesh likewise from Him to whom was present the will for its production. For, of course, if He had not willed its production, He would have prohibited it, when He knew it was in progress. It follows, then, that even on their principle the flesh is equally the work of God. There is no work but belongs to Him who has permitted it to exist. It is indeed a happy circumstance, that most of their doctrines, including even the harshest, accord to our God the entire formation of man. How mighty He is, you know full well who believe that He is the only God. Let, then, the flesh begin to give you pleasure, since the Creator thereof is so great. But, you say, even the world is the work of God, and yet "the fashion of this world passeth away,"(33) as the apostle himself testifies; nor must it be predetermined that the world will be restored, simply because it is the work of God. And surely if the universe, after its ruin, is not to be formed again, why should a portion of it be? You are right, if a portion is on an equality with the whole. But we maintain that there is a difference. In the first place, because all things were made by the Word of God, and without Him was nothing made.(34) Now the flesh, too, had its existence from the Word of God, because of the principle,(35) that here should be nothing without that Word. "Let us make man,"(36) said He, before He created him, and added, "with our hand," for the sake of his pre-eminence, that so he might not be compared with the rest of creation.(37) And "God," says (the Scripture), "formed man."(38) There is undoubtedly a great difference in the procedure, springing of course from the nature of the case. For the creatures which were made were inferior to him for whom they were made; and they were made for man, to whom they were afterwards made subject by God. Rightly, therefore, had the creatures which were thus intended for subjection, come forth into being at the bidding and command and sole power of the divine voice; whilst man, on the contrary, destined to be their lord, was formed by God Himself, to the intent that he might be able to exercise his mastery, being created by the Master the Lord Himself. Remember, too, that man is properly called flesh, which had a prior occupation in man's designation: "And God formed man the clay of the ground."(39) He now became man, who was hitherto clay. "And He breathed upon his face the breath of life, and man (that is, the clay) became a living soul; and God placed the man whom He had formed in the garden."(40) So that man was clay at first, and only afterwards man entire. I wish to impress this on your attention, with a view to your knowing, that whatever God has at all purposed or promised to man, is due not to the soul simply, but to the flesh also; if not arising out of any community in their origin, yet at all events by the privilege possessed by the latter in its name.(41)
Let me therefore pursue the subject before me-if I can but succeed in vindicating for the flesh as much as was conferred on it by Him who made it, glorying as it even then was, because that poor paltry material, clay, found its way into the hands of God, whatever these were, happy enough at merely being touched by them. But why this glorying? Was it that,(42) without any further labour, the clay had instantly assumed its form at the touch of God? The truth is,(43) a great matter was in progress, out of which the creature under consideration(44) was being fashioned. So often then does it receive honour, as often as it experiences the hands of God, when it is touched by them, and pulled, and drawn out, and moulded into shape. Imagine God wholly employed and absorbed in it-in His hand, His eye, His labour, His purpose, His wisdom, His providence, and above all, in His love, which was dictating the lineaments (of this creature). For, whatever was the form and expression which was then given to the clay (by the Creator) Christ was in His thoughts as one day to become man, because the Word, too, was to be both clay and flesh, even as the earth was then. For so did the Father previously say to the Son: "Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness."(45) And God made man, that is to say, the creature which He moulded and fashioned; after the image of God (in other words, of Christ) did He make him And the Word was God also, who being(46) in the image of God, "thought it not robbery to be equal to God."(47) Thus, that clay which was even then putting on the image of Christ, who was to come in the flesh, was not only the work, but also the pledge and surety, of God. To what purpose is it to bandy about the name earth, as that of a sordid and grovelling element, with the view of tarnishing the origin of the flesh, when, even if any other material had been available for forming man, it would be requisite that the dignity of the Maker should be taken into consideration, who even by His selection of His material deemed it, and by His management made it, worthy? The hand of Phidias forms the Olympian Jupiter of ivory; worship is given to the statue, and it is no longer regarded as a god formed out of a most silly animal, but as the world's supreme Deity- not because of the bulk of the elephant, but on account of the renown of Phidias. Could not therefore the living God, the true God, purge away by His own operation whatever vileness might have accrued to His material, and heal it of all infirmity? Or must this remain to show how much more nobly man could fabricate a god, than God could form a man? Now, although the clay is offensive (for its poorness), it is now something else. What I possess is flesh, not earth, even although of the flesh it is said: "Dust thou art, and unto dust shall thou return,"(48) In these words there is the mention of the origin, not a recalling of the substance. The privilege has been granted to the flesh to be nobler than its origin, and to have happiness aggrandized by the change wrought in it. Now, even gold is earth, because of the earth; but it remains earth no longer after it becomes gold, but is a far different substance, more splendid and more noble, though coming from a source which is comparatively faded and obscure. In like manner, it was quite allowable for God that He should dear the gold of our flesh from all the taints, as you deem them, of its native clay, by purging the original substance of its dross.
But perhaps the dignity of the flesh may seem to be diminished, because it has not been actually manipulated by the hand of God, as the clay was at first. Now, when God handled the clay for the express purpose of the growth of flesh out of it afterwards, it was for the flesh that He took all the trouble. But I want you, moreover, to know at what time and in what manner the flesh flourished into beauty out of its clay. For it cannot be, as some will have it, that those "coats of skins"(49) which Adam and Eve put on when they were stripped of paradise, were really themselves the forming of the flesh out of clay,(50) because long before that Adam had already recognised the flesh which was in the woman as the propagation of his own substance ("This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh "(51) ), and the very taking of the woman out of the man was supplemented with flesh; but it ought, I should suppose, to have been made good with clay, if Adam was still clay. The clay, therefore, was obliterated and absorbed into flesh. When did this happen? At the time that man became a living soul by the inbreathing of God-by the breath indeed which was capable of hardening clay into another substance, as into some earthenware, so now into flesh. In the same way the potter, too, has it in his power, by tempering the blast of his fire, to modify his clayey material into a stiffer one, and to mould one form after another more beautiful than the original substance, and now possessing both a kind and name of its own. For although the Scripture says, "Shall the clay say to the potter? "(52) that is, Shall man contend with God? although the apostle speaks of "earthen vessels"(53) he refers to man, who was originally clay. And the vessel is the flesh, because this was made of clay by the breath of the divine afflatus; and it was afterwards clothed with "the coats of skins," that is, with the cutaneous covering which was placed over it. So truly is this the fact, that if you withdraw the skin, you lay bare the flesh. Thus, that which becomes a spoil when stripped off, was a vestment as long as it remained laid over. Hence the apostle, when he call circumcision "a putting off (or spoliation) of the flesh,"(54) affirmed the skin to be a coat or tunic. Now this being the case, you have both the clay made glorious by the hand of God, and the flesh more glorious still by His breathing upon it, by virtue of which the flesh not only laid aside its clayey rudiments, but also took on itself the ornaments of the soul. You surely are not more careful than God, that you indeed should refuse to mount the gems of Scythia and India and the pearls of the Red Sea in lead, or brass, or iron, or even in silver, but should set them in the most precious and most highly-wrought gold; or, again, that you should provide for your finest wines and most costly unguents the most fitting vessels; or, on the same principle, should find for your swords of finished temper scabbards of equal worth; whilst God must consign to some vilest sheath the shadow of His own soul, the breath of His own Spirit, the operation of His own mouth, and by so ignominious a consignment secure, of course, its condemnation. Well, then, has He placed, or rather inserted and commingled, it with the flesh? Yes; and so intimate is the union, that it may be deemed to be uncertain whether the flesh bears about the soul, or the soul the flesh; or whether the flesh acts as apparitor to the soul, or the soul to the flesh. It is, However, more credible that the soul has service rendered to it,(55) and has the mastery,(56) as being more proximate in character to God.(57) This circumstance even redounds to the glory of the flesh, inasmuch as it both contains an essence nearest to God's, and renders itself a partake of (the soul's) actual sovereignty. For what enjoyment of nature is there, what produce of the world, what relish of the elements, which is not imparted to the soul by means of the body? How can it be otherwise? Is it not by its means that the soul is supported by the entire apparatus of the senses-the sight, the hearing, the taste, the smell, the touch? Is it not by its means that it has a sprinkling of the divine power, there being nothing which it does not effect by its faculty of speech, even when it is only tacitly indicated? And speech is the result of a fleshly organ. The arts come through the flesh; through the flesh also effect is given to the mind's pursuits and powers; all work, too, and business and offices of life, are accomplished by the flesh; and so utterly, are the living acts of the soul the work of the flesh, that for the soul to cease to do living acts, would be nothing else than sundering itself from the flesh. So also the very act of dying is a function of the flesh, even as the process of life is. Now, if all things are subject to the soul through the flesh, their subjection is equally due to the flesh. That which is the means and agent of your enjoyment, must needs be also the partaker and sharer of your enjoyment. So that the flesh, which is accounted the minister and servant of the soul, turns out to be also its associate and co-heir. And if all this in temporal things, why not also in things eternal?
Chapter VIII.-Christianity, by Its Provision for the Flesh, Has Put on It the Greatest Honour. The Privileges of Our Religion in Closest Connection with Our Flesh. Which Also Bears a Large Share in the Duties and Sacrifices of Religion.
Now such remarks have I wished to advance in defence of the flesh, from a general view of the condition of our human nature. Let us now consider its special relation to Christianity, and see how vast a privilege before God has been conferred on this poor and worthless substance. It would suffice to say, indeed, that there is not a soul that can at all procure salvation, except it believe whilst it is in the flesh, so true is it that the flesh is the very condition on which salvation hinges.And since the soul is, in consequence of its salvation, chosen to the service of God, it is the flesh which actually renders it capable of such service. The flesh, indeed, is washed, in order that the soul may be cleansed; the flesh is anointed, that the soul may be consecrated; the flesh is signed (with the cross), that the soul too may be fortified; the flesh is shadowed with the imposition of hands, that the soul also maybe illuminated by the Spirit; the flesh feeds on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul likewise may fatten on its God. They cannot then be separated in their recompense, when they are united in their service. Those sacrifices, moreover, which are acceptable to God-I mean conflicts of the soul, fastings, and abstinences, and the humiliations which are annexed to such duty-it is the flesh which performs again and again(58) to its own especial suffering. Virginity, likewise, and widowhood, and the modest restraint in secret on the marriage-bed, and the one only adoption(59) of it, are fragrant offerings to God paid out of the good services of the flesh. Come, tell me what is your opinion of the flesh, when it has to contend for the name of Christ, dragged out to public view, and exposed to the hatred of all men; when it pines in prisons under the cruellest privation of light, in banishment from the world, amidst squalor, filth, and noisome food, without freedom even in sleep, for it is bound on its very pallet and mangled in its bed of straw; when at length before the public view it is racked by every kind of torture that can be devised, and when finally it is spent beneath its agonies, struggling to render its last turn for Christ by dying for Him-upon His own cross many times, not to say by still more atrocious devices of torment. Most blessed, truly, and most glorious, must be the flesh which can repay its Master Christ so vast a debt, and so completely, that the only obligation remaining due to Him is, that it should cease by death to owe Him more-all the more bound even then in gratitude, because (for ever) set free.
To recapitulate, then: Shall that very flesh, which the Divine Creator formed with His own hands in the image of God; which He animated with His own afflatus, after the likeness of His own vital vigour; which He set over all the works of His hand, to dwell amongst, to enjoy, and to rule them; which He clothed with His sacraments and His instructions; whose purity He loves, whose mortifications He approves; whose sufferings for Himself He deems precious;-(shall that flesh, I say), so often brought near to God, not rise again? God forbid, God forbid, (I repeat), that He should abandon to everlasting destruction the labour of His own hands, the care of His own thoughts, the receptacle of His own Spirit,(60) the queen of His creation, the inheritor of His own liberality, the priestess of His religion, the champion of His testimony, the sister of His Christ! We know by experience the goodness of God; from His Christ we learn that He is the only God, and the very good. Now, as He requires from us love to our neighbour after love to Himself,(61) so He will Himself do that which He has commanded. He will love the flesh which is, so very closely and in so many ways, His neighbour-(He will love it), although infirm, since His strength is made perfect in weakness;(62) although disordered, since "they that are whole need not the physician, but they that are sick; "(63) although not honourable, since "we bestow more abundant honour upon the less honourable members; "(64) although ruined, since He says, "I am come to save that which was lost; "(65) although sinful, since He says, "I desire rather the salvation of the sinner than his death; "(66) although condemned, for says He, "I shall wound, and also heal. "(67) Why reproach the flesh with those conditions which wait for God, which hope in God, which receive honour from God, which He succours? I venture to declare, that if such casualties as these had never befallen the flesh, the bounty, the grace, the mercy, (and indeed) all the beneficent power of God, would have had no opportunity to work.(68)
You hold to the scriptures in which the flesh is disparaged; receive also those in which it is ennobled. You read whatever passage abases it; direct your eyes also to that which elevates it. "All flesh is grass."(69) Well, but Isaiah was not content to say only this; but he also declared, "All flesh shall see the salvation of God. "(70) They notice God when He says in Genesis, "My Spirit shall not remain among these men, because they are flesh; "(71) but then He is also heard saying by Joel, "I will pour I out of my Spirit upon all flesh."(72) Even the apostle ought not to be known for any one statement in which he is wont to reproach the flesh. For although he says that "in his flesh dwelleth no good thing; "(73) although he affirms that "they who are in the flesh cannot please God,"(74) because "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit; "(75) yet in these and similar assertions which he makes, it is not the substance of the flesh, but its actions, which are censured. Moreover, we shall elsewhere(76) take occasion to remark, that no reproaches can fairly be cast upon the flesh, without tending also to the castigation of the soul, which compels the flesh to do its bidding. However, let me meanwhile add that in the same passage Paul "carries about in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus; "(77) he also forbids our body to be profaned, as being "the temple of God; "(78) he makes our bodies "the members of Christ; "(79) and he exhorts us to exalt and "glorify God in our body."(80) If, therefore, the humiliations of the flesh thrust off its resurrection, why shall not its high prerogatives rather avail to bring it about?-since it better suits the character of God to restore to salvation what for a while He rejected, than to surrender to perdition what He once approved.
Thus far touching my eulogy of the flesh, in opposition to its enemies, who are, notwithstanding, its greatest friends also; for there is nobody who lives so much in accordance with the flesh as they who deny the resurrection of the flesh, inasmuch as they despise all its discipline, while they disbelieve its punishment. It is a shrewd saying which the Paraclete utters concerning these persons by the mouth of the prophetess Prisca: "They are carnal,(81) and yet they hate the flesh." Since, then, the flesh has the best guarantee that could possibly accrue for securing to it the recompense of salvation, ought we not also to consider well the power, and might, and competency(82) of God Himself, whether He be so great as to be able to rebuild and restore the edifice of the flesh, which had become dilapidated and blocked up,(83) and in every possible way dislocated?-whether He has promulgated in the public domains of nature any analogies to convince us of His power in this respect, lest any should happen to be still thirsting for the knowledge of God, when faith in Him must rest on no other basis than the belief that He is able to do all things? You have, no doubt amongst your philosophers men who maintain that this world is without a beginning or a maker. It is, however, much more true, that nearly all the heresies allow it an origin and a maker, and ascribe its creation to our God. Firmly believe, therefore, that He produced it wholly out of nothing, and then you have found the knowledge of God, by believing that He possesses such mighty power. But some persons are too weak to believe all this at first, owing to their views about Matter. They will rather have it, after the philosophers, that the universe was in the beginning made by God out of underlying matter. Now, even if this opinion could be held in truth, since He must be acknowledged to have produced in His reformation of matter far different substances and far different forms from those which Matter itself possessed, I should maintain, with no less persistence, that He produced these things out of nothing, since they absolutely had no existence at all previous to His production of them. Now, where is the difference between a thing's being produced out of nothing or out of something, if so be that what existed not comes into being, when even to have had no existence is tantamount to having been nothing? The contrary is likewise true; for having once existed amounts to having been something. If, however, there is a difference, both alternatives support my position. For if God produced all things whatever out of nothing, He will be able to draw forth from nothing even the flesh which had fallen into nothing; or if He moulded other things out of matter, He will be able to call forth the flesh too from somewhere else, into whatever abyss it may have been engulphed. And surely He is most competent to re-create who created, inasmuch as it is a far greater work to have produced than to have reproduced, to have imparted a beginning, than to have maintained a continuance. On this principle, you may be quite sure that the restoration of the flesh is easier than its first formation.
Consider now those very analogies of the divine power (to which we have just alluded). Day dies into night, and is buried everywhere in darkness. The glory of the world is obscured in the shadow of death; its entire substance is tarnished with blackness; all things become sordid, silent, stupid; everywhere business ceases, and occupations rest. And so over the loss of the light there is mourning. But yet it again revives, with its own beauty, its own dowry, is own sun, the same as ever, whole and entire, over all the world, slaying its own death, night-opening its own sepulchre, the darkness-coming forth the heir to itself, until the night also revives-it, too, accompanied with a retinue of its own. For the stellar rays are rekindled, which had been quenched in the morning glow; the distant groups of the constellations are again brought back to view, which the day's temporary interval had removed out of sight. Readorned also are the mirrors of the moon, which her monthly course had worn away. Winters and summers return, as do the spring-tide and autumn, with their resources, their routines, their fruits. Forasmuch as earth receives its instruction from heaven to clothe the trees which had been stripped, to colour the flowers afresh, to spread the grass again, to reproduce the seed which had been consumed, and not to reproduce them until consumed. Wondrous method! from a defrauder to be a preserver, in order to restore, it takes away; in order to guard, it destroys; that it may make whole, it injures; and that it may enlarge, it first lessens. (This process) indeed, renders back to us richer and fuller blessings than it deprived us of-by a destruction which is profit, by an injury which is advantage, and by a loss which is gain. In a word, I would say, all creation is instinct with renewal. Whatever you may chance upon, has already existed; whatever you have lost, returns again without fail. All things return to their former state, after having gone out of sight; all things begin after they have ended; they come to an end for the very purpose of coming into existence again. Nothing perishes but with a view to salvation. The whole, therefore, of this revolving order of things bears witness to the resurrection of the dead. In His works did God write it, before He wrote it in the Scriptures; He proclaimed it in His mighty deeds earlier than in His inspired words. He first sent Nature to you as a teacher, meaning to send Prophecy also as a supplemental instructor, that, being Nature's disciple, you may more easily believe Prophecy, and without hesitation accept (its testimony) when you come to hear what you have seen already on every side; nor doubt that God, whom you have discovered to be the restorer of all things, is likewise the reviver of the flesh. And surely, as all things rise again for man, for whose use they have been provided-but not for man except for his flesh also-how happens it that (the flesh) itself can perish utterly, because of which and for the service of which nothing comes to nought?
If, however, all nature but faintly figures our resurrection; if creation affords no sign precisely like it, inasmuch as its several phenomena can hardly be said to die so much as to come to an end, nor again be deemed to be reanimated, but only re-formed; then take a most complete and unassailable, symbol of our hope, for it shall be an animated being, and subject alike to life and death. I refer to the bird which is peculiar to the East, famous for its singularity, marvelous from its posthumous life, which renews its life in a voluntary death; its dying day is its birthday, for on it it departs and returns; once more a phoenix where just now there was none; once more himself, but just now out of existence; another, yet the same. What can be more express and more significant for our subject; or to what other thing can such a phenomenon bear witness? God even in His own Scripture says: "The righteous shall flourish like the ph£nix; "(84) that is, shall flourish or revive, from death, from the grave-to teach you to believe that a bodily substance may be recovered even from the fire. Our Lord has declared that we are "better than many sparrows: "(85) well, if not better than many a ph£nix too, it were no great thing. But must men die once for all, while birds in Arabia are sure of a resurrection?
Such, then, being the outlines of the divine energies which God has displayed as much in the parables of nature as in His spoken word, let us now approach His very edicts and decrees, since this is the division which we mainly adopt in our subject-matter. We began with the dignity of the flesh, whether it were of such a nature that when once destroyed it was capable of being restored. Then we pursued an inquiry touching the power of God, whether it was sufficiently great to be habitually able to confer this restoration on a thing which had been destroyed. Now, if we have proved these two points, I should like you to inquire into the (question of) cause, whether it be one of sufficient weight to claim the resurrection of the flesh as necessary and as conformable in every way to reason; because there underlies this demurrer: the flesh may be quite capable of being restored, and the Deity be perfectly able to effect the restoration, but a cause for such recovery must needs pre-exist. Admit then a sufficient one, you who learn of a God who is both supremely good as well as just(86) -supremely good from His own (character), just in consequence of ours. For if man had never sinned, he would simply and solely have known God in His superlative goodness, from the attribute of His nature. But now he experiences Him to be a just God also, from the necessity of a cause; still, however, retaining under this very circumstance His excellent goodness, at the same time that He is also just. For, by both succouring the good and punishing the evil, He displays His justice, and at the same time makes both processes contribute proofs of His goodness, whilst on the one hand He deals vengeance, land on the other dispenses reward. But with Marcion(87) you will have the opportunity of more fully learning whether this be the whole character of God. Meanwhile, so perfect is our (God), that He is rightly Judge, because He is the Lord; rightly the Lord, because the Creator; rightly the Creator, because He is God. Whence it happens that that heretic, whose name I know not, holds that He properly is not a Judge, since He is not Lord; properly not Lord, since He is not the Creator. And so I am at a loss to know how He is God, who is neither the Creator, which God is; nor the Lord, which the Creator is. Inasmuch, then, as it is most suitable for the great Being who is God, and Lord, and Creator to summon man to a judgment on this very question, whether he has taken care or not to acknowledge and honour his Lord and Creator, this is just such a judgment as the resurrection shall achieve. The entire cause, then, or rather necessity of the resurrection, will be this, namely, that arrangement of the final judgment which shall be most suitable to God. Now, in effecting this arrangement, you must consider whether the divine censure superintends a judicial examination of the two natures of man-both his soul and his flesh. For that which is a suitable object to be judged, is also a competent one to be raised. Our position is, that the judgment of God must be believed first of all to be plenary, and then absolute, so as to be final, and therefore irrevocable; to be also righteous, not bearing less heavily on any particular part; to be moreover worthy of God, being complete and definite, in keeping with His great patience. Thus it follows that the fulness and perfection of the judgment consists simply in representing the interests of the entire human being. Now, since the entire man consists of the union of the two natures, he must therefore appear in both, as it is right that he should be judged in his entirety; nor, of course, did he pass through life except in his entire state. As therefore he lived, so also must he be judged, because he has to be judged concerning the way in which he lived. For life is the cause of judgment, and it must undergo investigation in as many natures as it possessed when it discharged its vital functions.
Come now, let our opponents sever the connection of the flesh with the soul in the affairs of life, that they may be emboldened to sunder it also in the recompense of life. Let them deny their association in acts, that they may be fairly able to deny also their participation in rewards. The flesh ought not to have any share in the sentence, if it had none in the cause of it. Let the soul alone be called back, if it alone went away. But (nothing of the kind ever happened); for the soul alone no more departed from life, than it ran through alone the course from which it departed-I mean this present life. Indeed, the soul alone is so far from conducting (the affairs of) life, that we do not withdraw from community with the flesh even our thoughts, however isolated they be, however unprecipitated into act by means of the flesh; since whatever is done in man's heart is done by the soul in the flesh, and with the flesh, and through the flesh. The Lord Himself, in short, when rebuking our thoughts, includes in His censures this aspect of the flesh, (man's heart), the citadel of the soul: "Why think ye evil in your hearts? "(88) and again: "Whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart."(89) So that even the thought, without operation and without effect, is an act of the flesh. But if you allow that the faculty which rules the senses, and which they call hegemonikon,(90) has its sanctuary in the brain, or in the interval between the eyebrows, or wheresoever the philosophers are pleased to locate it, the flesh will still be the thinking place of the soul. The soul is never without the flesh, as long as it is in the flesh. There is nothing which the flesh does not transact in company with the soul, when without it does not exist. Consider carefully, too, whether the thoughts are not administered by the flesh, since it is through the flesh that they are distinguished and known externally. Let the soul only meditate some design, the face gives the indication-the face being the mirror of all our intentions. They may deny all combination in acts, but they cannot gainsay their co-operation in thoughts. Still they enumerate the sins of the flesh; surely, then, for its sinful conduct it must be consigned to punishment. But we, moreover, allege against them the virtues of the flesh; surely also for its virtuous conduct it deserves a future reward. Again, as it is the soul which acts and impels us in all we do, so it is the function of the flesh to render obedience. Now we are not permitted to suppose that God is either unjust or idle. Unjust, (however He would be, ) were He to exclude from reward the flesh which is associated in good works; and idle, were He to exempt it from punishment, when it has been an accomplice in evil deeds: whereas human judgment is deemed to be the more perfect, when it discovers the agents in every deed, and neither spares the guilty nor grudges the virtuous their full share of either punishment or praise with the principals who employed their services.
Chapter XVI.-The Heretics Called the Flesh "The Vessel of the Soul," In Order to Destroy the Responsibility of the Body. Their Cavil Turns Upon Themselves and Shows the Flesh to Be a Sharer in Human Actions.
When, however, we attribute to the soul authority, and to the flesh submission, we must see to it that (our opponents) do not turn our position by another argument, by insisting on so placing the flesh in the service of the soul, that it be not (considered as) its servant, lest they should be compelled, if it were so regarded, to admit its companionship (to the soul). For they would argue that servants and companions possess a discretion in discharging the functions of their respective office, and a power over their will in both relations: in short, (they would claim to be) men themselves, and therefore (would expect) to share the credit with their principals, to whom they voluntarily yielded their assistance; whereas the flesh had no discretion, no sentiment in itself, but possessing no power of its own of willing or refusing, it, in fact, appears to stand to the soul in the stead of a vessel as an instrument rather than a servant. The soul alone, therefore, will have to be judged (at the last day) pre-eminently as to how it has employed the vessel of the flesh; the vessel itself, of course, not being amenable to a judicial award: for who condemns the cup if any. man has mixed poison in it? or who sentences the sword to the beasts, if a man has perpetrated with it the atrocities of a brigand? Well, now, we will grant that the flesh is innocent, in so far as bad actions will not be charged upon it: what, then, is there to hinder its being saved on the score of its innocence? For although it is free from all imputation of good works, as it is of evil ones, yet it is more consistent with the divine goodness to deliver the innocent. A beneficent man, indeed, is bound to do so: it suits then the character of the Most Bountiful to bestow even gratuitously such a favour. And yet, as to the cup, I will not take the poisoned one, into which some certain death is injected, but one which has been infected with the breath of a lascivious woman,(91) or of Cybele's priest, or of a gladiator, or of a hangman: then I want to know whether you would pass a milder condemnation on it than on the kisses of such persons? One indeed which is soiled with our own filth, or one which is not mingled to our own mind we are apt to dash to pieces, and then to increase our anger with our servant. As for the sword, which is drunk with the blood of the brigand's victims, who would not banish it entirely from his house, much more from his bed-room, or from his pillow, from the presumption that he would be sure to dream of nothing but the apparitions of the souls which were pursuing and disquieting him for lying down with the blade which shed their own blood? Take, however, the cup which has no reproach on it, and which deserves the credit of a faithful ministration, it will be adorned by its drinking-master with chaplets, or be honoured with a handful of flowers. The sword also which has received honourable stains in war, and has been thus engaged in a better manslaughter, will secure its own praise by consecration. It is quite possible, then, to pass decisive sentences even on vessels and on instruments, that so they too may participate in the merits of their proprietors and employers. Thus much do I say from a desire to meet even this argument, although there is a failure in the example, owing to the diversity in the nature of the objects. For every vessel or every instrument becomes useful from without, consisting as it does of material perfectly extraneous to the substance of the human owner or employer; whereas the flesh, being conceived, formed, and generated along with the soul from its earliest existence in the womb, is mixed up with it likewise in all its operations. For although it is called "a vessel" by the apostle, such as he enjoins to be treated "with honour,"(92) it is yet designated by the same apostle as "the outward man,"(93) -that clay, of course, which at the first was inscribed with the title of a man, not of a cup or a sword, or any paltry vessel. Now it is called a "vessel" in consideration of its capacity, whereby it receives and contains the soul; but "man," from its community of nature, which renders it in all operations a servant and not an instrument. Accordingly, in the judgment it will be held to be a servant (even though it may have no independent discretion of its own), on the ground of its being an integral portion of that which possesses such discretion, and is not a mere chattel. And although the apostle is well aware that the flesh does nothing of itself which is not also imputed to the soul, he yet deems the flesh to be "sinful; "(94) lest it should be supposed to be free from all responsibility by the mere fact of its seeming to be impelled by the soul. So, again, when he is ascribing certain praiseworthy actions to the flesh, he says, "Therefore glorify and exalt God in your body,"(95) -being certain that such efforts are actuated by the soul; but still he ascribes them to the flesh, because it is to it that he also promises the recompense. Besides, neither rebuke, (on the one hand), would have been suitable to it, if free from blame; nor, (on the other hand), would exhortation, if it were incapable of glory. Indeed, both rebuke and exhortation would be alike idle towards the flesh, if it were an improper object for that recompence which is certainly received in the resurrection.
"Every uneducated(96) person who agrees with our opinion will be apt to suppose that the flesh will have to be present at the final judgment even on this account, because otherwise the soul would be incapable of suffering pain or pleasure, as being incorporeal; for this is the common opinion. We on our part, however, do here maintain, and in a special treatise on the subject prove, that the soul is corporeal, possessing a peculiar kind of solidity in its nature, such as enables it both to perceive and suffer. That souls are even now susceptible of torment and of blessing in Hades, though they are disembodied, and notwithstanding their banishment from the flesh, is proved by the case of Lazarus. I have no doubt given to my opponent room to say: Since, then, the soul has a bodily substance of its own, it will be sufficiently endowed with the faculty of suffering and sense, so as not to require the presence of the flesh. No, no, (is my reply): it will still need the flesh; not as being unable to feel anything without the help of the flesh, but because it is necessary that it should possess such a faculty along with the flesh. For in as far as it has a sufficiency of its own for action, in so far has it likewise a capacity for suffering. But the truth is, in respect of action, it labours under some amount of incapacity; for in its own nature it has simply the ability to think, to will, to desire, to dispose: for fully, carrying out the purpose, it looks for the assistance of the flesh. In like manner, it also requires the conjunction of the flesh to endure suffering, in order that by its aid it may be as fully able to suffer, as without its assistance it was not fully able to act. In respect, indeed, of those sins, such as concupiscence, and thought, and wish, which it has a competency of its own to commit, it at once(97) pays the penalty of them. Now, no doubt, if these were alone sufficient to constitute absolute desert without requiring the addition of acts, the soul would suffice in itself to encounter the full responsibility of the judgment, being to be judged for those things in the doing of which it alone had possessed a sufficiency. Since, however, acts too are indissolubly attached to deserts; since also acts are ministerially effected by the flesh, it is no longer enough that the soul apart from the flesh be requited with pleasure or pain for what are actually works of the flesh, although it has a body (of its own), although it has members (of its own), which in like manner are insufficient for its full perception, just as they are also for its perfect action. Therefore as it has acted in each several instance, so proportionably does it suffer in Hades, being the first to taste of judgment as it was the first to induce to the commission of sin; but still it is waiting for the flesh in order that it may through the flesh also compensate for its deeds, inasmuch as it laid upon the flesh the execution of its own thoughts. This, in short, will be the process of that judgment which is postponed to the last great day, in order that by the exhibition of the flesh the entire course of the divine vengeance may be accomplished. Besides, (it is obvious to remark) there would be no delaying to the end of that doom which souls are already tasting in Hades, if it was destined for souls alone.
Chapter XVIII.-Scripture Phrases and Passages Clearly Assert "The Resurrection of the Dead." The Force of This Very Phrase Explained as Indicating the Prominent Place of the Flesh in the General Resurrection.
Thus far it has been my object by prefatory remarks to lay a foundation for the defence of all the Scriptures which promise a resurrection of the flesh. Now, inasmuch as this verity is supported by so many just and reasonable considerations-I mean the dignity of the flesh itself,(98) the power and might of God,(99) the analogous cases in which these are displayed,(100) as well as the good reasons for the judgment, and the need thereof(101) -it will of course be only right and proper that the Scriptures should be understood in the sense suggested by such authoritative considerations, and not after the conceits of the heretics, which arise from infidelity solely, because it is deemed incredible that the flesh should be recovered from death and restored to life; not because (such a restoration) is either unattainable by the flesh itself, or impossible for God to effect, or unsuitable to the final judgment. Incredible, no doubt, it might be, if it had not been revealed in the word of God;(102) except that, even if it had not been thus first announced by God, it might have been fairly enough assumed, that the revelation of it had been withheld, simply because so many strong presumptions in its favour had been already furnished. Since, however, (the great fact) is proclaimed in so many inspired passages, that is so far a dissuasive against understanding it in a sense different from that which is attested by such arguments as persuade us to its reception, even irrespective of the testimonies of revelation. Let us see, then, first of all in what title this hope of ours is held out to our view.(103) There is, I imagine, one divine edict which is exposed to the gaze of all men: it is "The Resurrection of the Dead."(104) These words are prompt, decisive, clear. I mean to take these very terms, discuss them, and discover to what substance they apply. As to the word resurrectio, whenever I hear of its impending over a human being, I am forced to inquire what part of him has been destined to fall, since nothing can be expected to rise again, unless it has first been prostrated. It is only the man who is ignorant of the fact that the flesh falls by death, that can fail to discover that it stands erect by means of life. Nature pronounces God's sentence: "Dust thou art, and unto dust shall thou return."(105) Even the man who has not heard the sentence, sees the fact. No death but is the ruin of our limbs. This destiny of the body the Lord also described, when, clothed as He was in its very substance, He said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again."(106) For He showed to what belongs (the incidents of) being destroyed, thrown down, and kept down-even to that to which it also appertains to be lifted and raised up again; although He was at the same time bearing about with Him "a soul that was trembling even unto death,"(107) but which did not fall through death, because even the Scripture informs us that "He spoke of His body."(108) So that it is the flesh which falls by death; and accordingly it derives its name, cadaver, from cadendo.(109) The soul, however, has no trace of a fall in its designation, as indeed there is no mortality in its condition. Nay it is the soul which communicates its ruin to the body when it is breathed out of it, just as it is also destined to raise it up again from the earth when it shall re-enter it. That cannot fall which by its entrance raises; nor can that droop which by its departure causes ruin. I will go further, and say that the soul does not even fall into sleep along with the body, nor does it with its companion even lie down in repose. For it is agitated in dreams, and disturbed: it might, however, rest, if it lay down; and lie down it certainly would, if it fell. Thus that which does not fall even into the likeness of death, does not succumb to the reality thereof. Passing now to the other word mortuorum, I wish you to look carefully, and see to what substance it is applicable. Were we to allow, under this head, as is sometimes held by the heretics, that the soul is mortal, so that being mortal it shall attain to a resurrection; this would afford a presumption that the flesh also, being no less mortal, would share in the same resurrection. But our present point is to derive from the proper signification of this word an idea of the destiny which it indicates. Now, just as the term resurrection is predicated of that which falls-that is, the flesh-so will there be the same application of the word dead, because what is called "the resurrection of the dead" indicates the rising up again of that which is fallen down. We learn this from the case of Abraham, the father of the faithful, a man who enjoyed close intercourse with God. For when he requested of the sons of Heth a spot to bury Sarah in, he said to them, "Give me the possession of a burying place with you, that I may bury my dead,"(110) -meaning, of course, her flesh; for he could not have desired a place to bury her soul in, even if the soul is to be deemed mortal, and even if it could bear to be described by the word "dead." Since, then, this word indicates the body, it follows that when "the resurrection of the dead" is spoken of, it is the rising again of men's bodies that is meant.
Now this consideration of the phrase in question, and its signification-besides maintaining, of course, the true meaning of the important words-must needs contribute to this further result, that whatever obscurity our adversaries throw over the subject under the pretence of figurative and allegorical language, the truth will stand out in clearer light, and out of uncertainties certain and definite rules will be prescribed. For some, when they have alighted on a very usual form of prophetic statement, generally expressed in figure and allegory, though not always, distort into some imaginary sense even the most clearly described doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, alleging that even death itself must be understood in a spiritual sense. They say that which is commonly supposed to be death is not really so,-namely, the separation of body and soul: it is rather the ignorance of God, by reason of which man is dead to God, and is not less buried in error than he would be in the grave. Wherefore that also must be held to be the resurrection, when a man is reanimated by access to the truth, and having dispersed the death of ignorance, and being endowed with new life by God, has burst forth from the sepulchre of the old man, even as the Lord likened the scribes and Pharisees to "whited sepulchres."(111) Whence it follows that they who have by faith attained to the resurrection, are with the Lord after they have once put Him on in their baptism. By such subtlety, then, even in conversation have they often been in the habit of misleading our brethren, as if they held a resurrection of the dead as well as we. Woe, say they, to him who has not risen in the present body; for they fear that they might alarm their hearers if they at once denied the resurrection. Secretly, however, in their minds they think this: Woe betide the simpleton who during his present life fails to discover the mysteries of heresy; since this, in their view, is the resurrection. There are however, a great many also, who, claiming to hold a resurrection after the soul's departure, maintain that going out of the sepulchre means escaping out of the world, since in their view the world is the habitation of the dead-that is, of those who know not God; or they will go so far as to say that it actually means escaping out of the body itself, since they imagine that the body detains the soul, when it is shut up in the death of a worldly life, as in a grave.
Now, to upset all conceits of this sort, let me dispel at once the preliminary idea on which they rest-their assertion that the prophets make all their announcements in figures of speech. Now, if this were the case, the figures themselves could not possibly have been distinguished, inasmuch as the verities would not have been declared, out of which the figurative language is stretched. And, indeed, if all are figures, where will be that of which they are the figures? How can you hold up a mirror for your face, if the face nowhere exists? But, in truth, all are not figures, but there are also literal statements; nor are all shadows, but there are bodies too: so that we have prophecies about the Lord Himself even, which are clearer than the day For it was not figuratively that the Virgin conceived in her womb; nor in a trope did she bear Emmanuel, that is, Jesus, God with us.(112) Even granting that He was figuratively to take the power of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria,(113) still it was literally that He was to "enter into judgment with the elders and princes of the people."(114) For in the person of Pilate "the heathen raged," and in the person of Isreal "the people imagined vain things; ""the kings of the earth" in Herod, and the rulers in Annas and Caiaphas, were gathered together against the Lord, and against His anointed."(115) He, again, was "led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a sheep before the shearer," that is, Herod, "is dumb, so He opened not His mouth."(116) "He gave His back to scourges, and His cheeks to blows, not turning His face even from the shame of spitting."(117) "He was numbered with the transgressors; "(118) "He was pierced in His hands and His feet; "(119) "they cast lots for his raiment"(120) "they gave Him gall, and made Him drink vinegar; "(121) "they shook their heads, and mocked Him; "(122) "He was appraised by the traitor in thirty pieces of silver."(123) What figures of speech does Isaiah here give us? What tropes does David? What allegories does Jeremiah? Not even of His mighty works have they used parabolic language. Or else, were not the eyes of the blind opened? did not the tongue of the dumb recover speech?(124) did not the relaxed hands and palsied knees become strong,(125) and the lame leap as an hart?(126) No doubt we are accustomed also to give a spiritual significance to these statements of prophecy, according to the analogy of the physical diseases which were healed by the Lord; but still they were all fulfilled literally: thus showing that the prophets foretold both senses, except that very many of their words can only be taken in a pure and simple signification, and free from all allegorical obscurity; as when we hear of the downfall of nations and cities, of Tyre and Egypt, and Babylon and Edom, and the navy of Carthage; also when they foretell Isreal's own chastisements and pardons, its captivities, restorations, and at last its final dispersion. Who would prefer affixing a metaphorical interpretation to all these events, instead of accepting their literal truth? The realities are involved in the words, just as the words are read in the realities. Thus, then, (we find that) the allegorical style is not used in all parts of the prophetic record, although it occasionally occurs in certain portions of it.
Well, if it occurs occasionally in certain portions of it, you will say, then why not in that phrase,(127) where the resurrection might be spiritually understood? There are several reasons why not. First, what must be the meaning of so many important passages of Holy Scripture, which so obviously attest the resurrection of the body, as to admit not even the appearance of a figurative signification? And, indeed, (since some passages are more obscure than others), it cannot but be right-as we have shown above(128) -that uncertain statements should be determined by certain ones, and obscure ones by such as are clear and plain; else there is fear that, in the conflict of certainties and uncertainties, of explicitness and obscurity, faith may be shattered, truth endangered, and the Divine Being Himself be branded as inconstant. Then arises the improbability that the very mystery on which our trust wholly rests, on which also our instruction entirely depends, should have the appearance of being ambiguously announced and obscurely propounded, inasmuch as the hope of the resurrection, unless it be clearly set forth on the sides both of punishment and reward, would fail to persuade any to embrace a religion like ours, exposed as it is to public detestation and the imputation of hostility to others. There is no certain work where the remuneration is uncertain. There is no real apprehension when the peril is only doubtful. But both the recompense of reward, and the danger of losing it, depend on the issues of the resurrection. Now, if even those purposes of God against cities, and nations, and kings, which are merely temporal, local, and personal in their character, have been proclaimed so clearly in prophecy, how is it to be supposed that those dispensations of His which are eternal, and of universal concern to the human race, should be void of all real light in themselves? The grander they are, the clearer should be their announcement, in order that their superior greatness might be believed. And I apprehend that God cannot possibly have ascribed to Him either envy, or guile, or inconsistency, or artifice, by help of which evil qualities it is that all schemes of unusual grandeur are litigiously promulgated.
Chapter XXII.-The Scripture Bid Our Supposing Either that the Resurrection is Already Past, or that It Takes Place Immediately at Death. Our Hopes and Prayers Point to the Last Great Day as the Period of Its Accomplishment.
We must after all this turn our attention to those scriptures also which forbid our belief in such a resurrection as is held by your Animalists (for I will not call them Spiritualists),(129) that it is either to be assumed as taking place now, as soon as men come to the knowledge of the truth, or else that it is accomplished immediately after their departure from this life. Now, forasmuch as the seasons of our entire hope have been fixed in the Holy Scripture, and since we are not permitted to place the accomplishment thereof, as I apprehend, previous to Christ's coming, our prayers are directed towards(130) the end of this world, to the passing away thereof at the great day of the Lord-of His wrath and vengeance-the last day, which is hidden (from all), and known to none but the Father, although announced beforehand by signs and wonders, and the dissolution of the elements, and the conflicts of nations. I would turn out the words of the prophets, if the Lord Himself had said nothing (except that prophecies were the Lord's own word); but it is more to my purpose that He by His own mouth confirms their statement. Being questioned by His disciples when those things were to come to pass which He had just been uttering about the destruction of the temple, He discourses to them first of the order of Jewish events until the overthrow of Jerusalem, and then of such as concerned all nations up to the very end of the world. For after He had declared that "Jerusalem was to be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled,"(131) -meaning, of course, those which were to be chosen of God, and gathered in with the remnant of Isreal-He then goes on to proclaim, against this world and dispensation (even as Joel had done, and Daniel, and all the prophets with one consent(132) ), that "there should be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars, distress of nations with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring, men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth."(133) "For," says He, "the powers of heaven shall be shaken; and then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds, with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh."(134) He spake of its "drawing nigh," not of its being present already; and of "those things beginning to come to pass," not of their having happened: because when they have come to pass, then our redemption shall be at hand, which is said to be approaching up to that time, raising and exciting our minds to what is then the proximate harvest of our hope. He immediately annexes a parable of this in "the trees which are tenderly sprouting into a flower-stalk, and then developing the flower, which is the precursor of the fruit."(135) "So likewise ye," (He adds), "when ye shall see all these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of heaven is nigh at hand."(136) "Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all those things, and to stand before the Son of man; "(137) that is, no doubt, at the resurrection, after all these things have been previously transacted. Therefore, although there is a sprouting in the acknowledgment of all this mystery, yet it is only in the actual presence of the Lord that the flower is developed and the fruit borne. Who is it then, that has aroused the Lord, now at God's right hand so unseasonably and with such severity "shake terribly" (as Isaiah(138) expresses it ("that earth," which, I suppose, is as yet unshattered? Who has thus early put "Christ's enemies beneath His feet" (to use the language of David(139) ), making Him more hurried than the Father, whilst every crowd in our popular assemblies is still with shouts consigning "the Christians to the lions? "(140) Who has yet beheld Jesus descending from heaven in like manner as the apostles saw Him ascend, according to the appointment of the two angels?(141) Up to the present moment they have not, tribe by tribe, smitten their breasts, looking on Him whom they pierced.(142) No one has as yet fallen in with Elias;(143) no one has as yet escaped from Antichrist;(144) no one has as yet had to bewail the downfall of Babylon.(145) And is there now anybody who has risen again, except the heretic? He, of course, has already quitted the grave of his own corpse-although he is even now liable to fevers and ulcers; he, too, has already trodden down his enemies-although he has even now to struggle with the powers of the world. And as a matter of course, he is already a king-although he even now owes to Cµsar the things which are Cµsar's.(146)
The apostle indeed teaches, in his Epistle to the Colossians, that we were once dead, alienated, and enemies to the Lord in our minds, whilst we were living in wicked works;(147) that we were then buried with Christ in baptism, and also raised again with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead.(148) "And you, (adds he), when ye were dead in sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses."(149) And again: "If ye are dead with Christ from the elements of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances? "(150) Now, since he makes us spiritually dead-in such a way, however, as to allow that we shall one day have to undergo a bodily death,-so, considering indeed that we have been also raised in a like spiritual sense, he equally allows that we shall further have to undergo a bodily resurrection. In so many words(151) he says: "Since ye are risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."(152) Accordingly, it is in our mind that he shows that we rise (with Christ), since it is by this alone that we are as yet able to reach to heavenly objects. These we should not "seek," nor "set our affection on," if we had them already in our possession. He also adds: "For ye are dead"-to your sins, he means, not to yourselves-"and your life is hid with Christ in God."(153) Now that life is not yet apprehended which is hidden. In like manner John says: "And it doth not yet appear what we shall be: we know, however, that when He shall be manifest, we shall be like Him."(154) We are far indeed from being already what we know not of; we should, of course, be sure to know it if we were already (like Him). It is therefore the contemplation of our blessed hope even in this life by faith (that he speaks of)-not its presence nor its possession, but only its expectation. Concerning this expectation and hope Paul writes to the Galatians: "For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith."(155) He says "we wait for it," not we are in possession of it. By the righteousness of God, he means that judgment which we shall have to undergo as the recompense of our deeds. It is in expectation of this for himself that the apostle writes to the Philippians: "If by any means," says he, "I might attain to the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, or were already perfect."(156) And yet he had believed, and had known all mysteries, as an elect vessel and the great teacher of the Gentiles; but for all that he goes on to say: "I, however, follow on, if so be I may apprehend that for which I also am apprehended of Christ."(157) Nay, more: "Brethren," (he adds), "I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing (I do), forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of blamelessness,(158) whereby I may attain it; "meaning the resurrection from the dead in its proper time. Even as he says to the Galatians: "Let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap."(159) Similarly, concerning Onesiphorus, does he also write to Timothy: "The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy in that day; "(160) unto which day and time he charges Timothy himself "to keep what had been committed to his care, without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ: which in His times He shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords,"(161) speaking of (Him as) God It is to these same times that Peter in the Acts refers, when he says: "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets."(162)
The character of these times learn, along with the Thessalonians. For we read: "How ye turned from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus."(163) And again: "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord God, Jesus Christ, at His coming? "(164) Likewise: "Before God, even our Father, at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, with the whole company of His saints."(165) He teaches them that they must "not sorrow concerning them that are asleep," and at the same time explains to them the times of the resurrection, saying, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus shall God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of our Lord, shall not prevent them that are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we be ever with the Lord."(166) What archangel's voice, (I wonder), what trump of God is now heard, except it be, forsooth, in the entertainments of the heretics? For, allowing that the word of the gospel may be called "the trump of God," since it was still calling men, yet they must at that time either be dead as to the body, that they may be able to rise again; and then how are they alive? Or else caught up into the clouds; and how then are they here? "Most miserable," no doubt, as the apostle declared them, are they "who in this life only" shall be found to have hope:(167) they will have to be excluded while they are with premature haste seizing that which is promised after this life; erring concerning the truth, no less than Phygellus and Hermogenes.(168) Hence it is that the Holy Ghost, in His greatness, foreseeing clearly all such interpretations as these, suggests (to the apostle), in this very epistle of his to the Thessalonians, as follows: "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, there is no necessity for my writing unto you. For ye yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, `Peace, 'and `All things are safe, 'then sudden destruction shall come upon them."(169) Again, in the second epistle he addresses them with even greater earnestness: "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, nor be troubled, either by spirit, or by word," that is, the word of false prophets, "or by letter," that is, the letter of false apostles, "as if from us, as that the day of the Lord is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means. For that day shall not come, unless indeed there first come a falling away," he means indeed of this present empire, "and that man of sin be revealed," that is to say, Antichrist, "the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God or religion; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, affirming that he is God. Remember ye not, that when I was with you, I used to tell you these things? And now ye know what detaineth, that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only he who now hinders must hinder, until he be taken out of the way."(170) What obstacle is there but the Roman state, the falling away of which, by being scattered into ten kingdoms, shall introduce Antichrist upon (its own ruins)? "And then shall be revealed the wicked one, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: even him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish."(171)
In the Revelation of John, again, the order of these times is spread out to view, which "the souls of the martyrs" are taught to wait for beneath the altar, whilst they earnestly pray to be avenged and judged:(172) (taught, I say, to wait), in order that the world may first drink to the dregs the plagues that await it out of the vials of the angels,(173) and that the city of fornication may receive from the ten kings its deserved doom,(174) and that the beast Antichrist with his false prophet may wage war on the Church of God; and that, after the casting of the devil into the bottomless pit for a while,(175) the blessed prerogative of the first resurrection may be ordained from the thrones;(176) and then again, after the consignment of him to the fire, that the judgment of the final and universal resurrection may be determined out of the books.(177) Since, then, the Scriptures both indicate the stages of the last times, and concentrate the harvest of the Christian hope in the very end of the world, it is evident, either that all which God promises to us receives its accomplishment then, and thus what the heretics pretend about a resurrection here falls to the ground; or else, even allowing that a confession of the mystery (of divine truth) is a resurrection, that there is, without any detriment to this view, room for believing in that which is announced for the end. It moreover follows, that the very maintenance of this spiritual resurrection amounts to a presumption in favour of the other bodily resurrection; for if none were announced for that time, there would be fair ground for asserting only this purely spiritual resurrection. Inasmuch, however, as (a resurrection) is proclaimed for the last time, it is proved to be a bodily one, because there is no spiritual one also then announced. For why make a second announcement of a resurrection of only one character, that is, the spiritual one, since this ought to be undergoing accomplishment either now, without any regard to different times, or else then, at the very conclusion of all the periods? It is therefore more competent for us even to maintain a spiritual resurrection a the commencement of a life of faith, who acknowledge the full completion thereof at the end of the world