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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part I: The Soul's Supremacy.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XIII.—The Soul’s Supremacy.

It next remains to examine where lies the supremacy; in other words, which of the two is superior to the other, so that with which the supremacy clearly lies shall be the essentially superior substance; 1578 whilst that over which this essentially superior substance shall have authority shall be considered as the natural functionary of the superior substance. Now who will hesitate to ascribe this entire authority to the soul, from the name of which the whole man has received his own designation in common phraseology?  How many souls, says the rich man, do I maintain? not how many minds. The pilot’s desire, also, is to rescue so many souls from shipwreck, not so many minds; the labourer, too, in his work, and the soldier on the field of battle, affirms that he lays down his soul (or life), not his mind. Which of the two has its perils or its vows and wishes more frequently on men’s lips—the mind or the soul? Which of the two are dying persons, said to have to do with the mind or the soul? In short, philosophers themselves, and medical men, even when it is their purpose to discourse about the mind, do in every instance inscribe on their title-page 1579 and table of contents, 1580De Anima” (“A treatise on the soul”).  And that you may also have God’s voucher on the subject, it is the soul which He addresses; it is the soul which He exhorts and counsels, to turn the mind and intellect to Him. It is the soul which Christ came to save; it is the soul which He threatens to destroy in hell; it is the soul (or life) which He forbids being made too much of; it is His soul, too (or life), which the good Shepherd Himself lays down for His p. 193 sheep. It is to the soul, therefore, that you ascribe the supremacy; in it also you possess that union of substance, of which you perceive the mind to be the instrument, not the ruling power.



Substantiæ massa.


Faciem operis.


Fontem materiæ.

Next: The Soul Variously Divided by the Philosophers; This Division is Not a Material Dissection.

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