Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: No Mere Metaphor in the Phrase Resurrection of the Dead. In Proportion to the Importance of Eternal Truths, is the Clearness of Their Scriptural Enunciation.
Chapter XXI.—No Mere Metaphor in the Phrase Resurrection of the Dead. In Proportion to the Importance of Eternal Truths, is the Clearness of Their Scriptural Enunciation.
Well, if it occurs occasionally in certain portions of it, you will say, then why not in that phrase, 7410 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 7411 —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.
Resurrectio Mortuorum, of which we have been speaking.560:7411
See ch. xix.
Next: The Scriptures Forbid 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.
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