Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: Christ, by Raising the Dead, Attested in a Practical Way the Doctrine of the Resurrection of the Flesh.
Chapter XXXVIII.—Christ, by Raising the Dead, Attested in a Practical Way the Doctrine of the Resurrection of the Flesh.
After the Lords words, what are we to think of the purport of His actions, when He raises dead persons from their biers and their graves? To what end did He do so? If it was only for the mere exhibition of His power, or to afford the temporary favour of restoration to life, it was really no great matter for Him to raise men to die over again. If, however, as was the truth, it was rather to put in secure keeping mens belief in a future resurrection, then it must follow from the particular form of His own examples, that the said resurrection will be a bodily one. I can never allow it to be said that the resurrection of the future, being destined for the soul only, did then receive these preliminary illustrations of a raising of the flesh, simply because it would have been impossible to have shown the p. 573 resurrection of an invisible soul except by the resuscitation of a visible substance. They have but a poor knowledge of God, who suppose Him to be only capable of doing what comes within the compass of their own thoughts; and after all, they cannot but know full well what His capability has ever been, if they only make acquaintance with the writings of John. For unquestionably he, who has exhibited to our sight the martyrs hitherto disembodied souls resting under the altar, 7534 was quite able to display them before our eyes rising without a body of flesh. I, however, for my part prefer (believing) that it is impossible for God to practise deception (weak as He only could be in respect of artifice), from any fear of seeming to have given preliminary proofs of a thing in a way which is inconsistent with His actual disposal of the thing; nay more, from a fear that, since He was not powerful enough to show us a sample of the resurrection without the flesh, He might with still greater infirmity be unable to display (by and by) the full accomplishment of the sample in the self-same substance of the flesh. No example, indeed, is greater than the thing of which it is a sample. Greater, however, it is, if souls with their body are to be raised as the evidence of their resurrection without the body, so as that the entire salvation of man in soul and body should become a guarantee for only the half, the soul; whereas the condition in all examples is, that which would be deemed the less—I mean the resurrection of the soul only—should be the foretaste, as it were, of the rising of the flesh also at its appointed time. And therefore, according to our estimate of the truth, those examples of dead persons who were raised by the Lord were indeed a proof of the resurrection both of the flesh and of the soul,—a proof, in fact, that this gift was to be denied to neither substance. Considered, however, as examples only, they expressed all the less significance—less, indeed, than Christ will express at last—for they were not raised up for glory and immortality, but only for another death.
Rev. vi. 9-11.
Next: Additional Evidence Afforded to Us in the Acts of the Apostles.
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