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Tertullian: Part II: Christ Plainly Testifies to the Resurrection of the Entire Man. Not in His Soul Only, Without the Body.
Chapter XXXIV.—Christ Plainly Testifies to the Resurrection of the Entire Man. Not in His Soul Only, Without the Body.
To begin with the passage where He says that He is come to “to seek and to save that which is lost.” 7506 What do you suppose that to be which is lost? Man, undoubtedly. The entire man, or only a part of him? The whole man, of course. In fact, since the transgression which caused mans ruin was committed quite as much by the instigation of the soul from concupiscence as by the action of the flesh from actual fruition, it has marked the entire man with the sentence of transgression, and has therefore made him deservedly amenable to perdition. So that he will be wholly saved, since he has by sinning been wholly lost. Unless it be true that the sheep (of the parable) is a “lost” one, irrespective of its body; then its recovery may be effected without the body. Since, however, it is the bodily substance as well as the soul, making up the entire animal, which was carried on the shoulders of the Good Shepherd, we have here unquestionably an example how man is restored in both his natures. Else how unworthy it were of God to bring only a moiety of man to salvation—and almost less than that; whereas the munificence of princes of this world always claims for itself the merit of a plenary grace! Then must the devil be understood to be stronger for injuring man, ruining him wholly? and must God have the character of comparative weakness, since He does not relieve and help man in his entire state? The apostle, however, suggests that “where sin abounded, there has grace much more abounded.” 7507 How, in fact, can he be regarded as saved, who can at the same time be said to be lost—lost, that is, in the flesh, but saved as to his soul? Unless, indeed, their argument now makes it necessary that the soul should be placed in a “lost” condition, that it may be susceptible of salvation, on the ground that is properly saved which has been lost. We, however, so understand the souls immortality as to believe it “lost,” not in the sense of destruction, but of punishment, that is, in hell. And if this is the case, then it is not the soul which salvation will affect, since it is “safe” already in its own nature by reason of its immortality, but rather the flesh, which, as all readily allow, is subject to destruction. Else, if the soul is also perishable (in this sense), in other words, not immortal—the condition of the flesh—then this same condition ought in all fairness to benefit the flesh also, as being similarly mortal and perishable, since that which perishes the Lord purposes to save. I do not care now to follow the clue of our discussion, so far as to consider whether it is in one of his natures or in the other that perdition puts in its claim on man, provided that salvation is equally distributed over the two substances, and makes him its aim in respect of them both. For observe, in which substance so-ever you assume man to have perished, in the other he does not perish. He will therefore be saved in the substance in which p. 570 he does not perish, and yet obtain salvation in that in which he does perish. You have (then) the restoration of the entire man, inasmuch as the Lord purposes to save that part of him which perishes, whilst he will not of course lose that portion which cannot be lost. Who will any longer doubt of the safety of both natures, when one of them is to obtain salvation, and the other is not to lose it? And, still further, the Lord explains to us the meaning of the thing when He says: “I came not to do my own will, but the Fathers, who hath sent me.” 7508 What, I ask, is that will? “That of all which He hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” 7509 Now, what had Christ received of the Father but that which He had Himself put on? Man, of course, in his texture of flesh and soul. Neither, therefore, of those parts which He has received will He allow to perish; nay, no considerable portion—nay, not the least fraction, of either. If the flesh be, as our opponents slightingly think, but a poor fraction, then the flesh is safe, because not a fraction of man is to perish; and no larger portion is in danger, because every portion of man is in equally safe keeping with Him. If, however, He will not raise the flesh also up at the last day, then He will permit not only a fraction of man to perish, but (as I will venture to say, in consideration of so important a part) almost the whole of him. But when He repeats His words with increased emphasis, “And this is the Fathers will, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have eternal life: and I will raise him up at the last day,” 7510 —He asserts the full extent of the resurrection. For He assigns to each several nature that reward which is suited to its services: both to the flesh, for by it the Son was “seen;” and to the soul, for by it He was “believed on.” Then, you will say, to them was this promise given by whom Christ was “seen.” Well, be it so; only let the same hope flow on from them to us! For if to them who saw, and therefore believed, such fruit then accrued to the operations of the flesh and the soul, how much more to us! For more “blessed,” says Christ, “are they who have not seen, and yet have believed;” 7511 since, even if the resurrection of the flesh must be denied to them, it must at any rate be a fitting boon to us, who are the more blessed. For how could we be blessed, if we were to perish in any part of us?
Luke xix. 10.569:7507
Rom. v. 20.570:7508
John vi. 38.570:7509
John xx. 29.
Next: Explanation of What is Meant by the Body, Which is to Be Raised Again. Not the Corporeality of the Soul.
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