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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: God's Love for the Flesh of Man, as Developed in the Grace of Christ Towards It. The Flesh the Best Means of Displaying the Bounty and Power of God.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter IX.—God’s Love for the Flesh of Man, as Developed in the Grace of Christ Towards It. The Flesh the Best Means of Displaying the Bounty and Power of God.

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 morp. 552 tifications 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, 7343 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, 7344 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; 7345 although disordered, since “they that are whole need not the physician, but they that are sick;” 7346 although not honourable, since “we bestow more abundant honour upon the less honourable members;” 7347 although ruined, since He says, “I am come to save that which was lost;” 7348 although sinful, since He says, “I desire rather the salvation of the sinner than his death;” 7349 although condemned, for says He, “I shall wound, and also heal.” 7350 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. 7351


Footnotes

552:7343

Afflatus.

552:7344

Matt. xxii. 37-40.

552:7345

2 Cor. xii. 9.

552:7346

Luke v. 31.

552:7347

1 Cor. xii. 23.

552:7348

Luke xix. 10.

552:7349

Ezek. xviii. 23.

552:7350

Deut. xxxii. 39.

552:7351

Vacuisset.


Next: Holy Scripture Magnifies the Flesh, as to Its Nature and Its Prospects.

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