Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: Our Flesh in the Resurrection Capable, Without Losing Its Essential Identity, of Bearing the Changed Conditions of Eternal Life, or of Death Eternal.
Chapter LIX.—Our Flesh in the Resurrection Capable, Without Losing Its Essential Identity, of Bearing the Changed Conditions of Eternal Life, or of Death Eternal.
But, you object, the world to come bears the character of a different dispensation, even an eternal one; and therefore, you maintain, that the non-eternal substance of this life is incapable of possessing a state of such different features. This would be true enough, if man were made for the future dispensation, and not the dispensation for man. The apostle, however, in his epistle says, “Whether it be the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours:” 7739 and he here constitutes us heirs even of the future world. Isaiah gives you no help when he says, “All flesh is grass;” 7740 and in another passage, “All flesh shall see the salvation of God.” 7741 It is the issues of men, not their substances, which he distinguishes. But who does not hold that the judgment of God consists in the twofold sentence, of salvation and of punishment? Therefore it is that “all flesh is grass,” which is destined to the fire; and “all flesh shall see the salvation of God,” which is ordained to eternal life. For myself, I am quite sure that it is in no other flesh than my own that I have committed adultery, nor in any other flesh am I striving after continence. If there be any one who bears about in his person two instruments of lasciviousness, he has it in his power, to be sure, to mow down 7742 “the grass” of the unclean flesh, and to reserve for himself only that which shall see the salvation of God. But when the same prophet represents to us even nations sometimes estimated as “the small dust of the balance,” 7743 and as “less than nothing, and vanity,” 7744 and sometimes as about to hope and “trust in the name” 7745 and arm of the Lord, are we at all misled respecting the Gentile nations by the diversity of statement? Are some of them to turn believers, and are others accounted dust, from any difference of nature? Nay, rather Christ has shone as the true light on the nations within the oceans limits, and from the heaven which is over us all. 7746 Why, it is even on this earth that the Valentinians have gone to school for their errors; and there will be no difference of condition, as respects their body and soul, between the nations which believe and those which do not believe. Precisely, then, as He has put a distinction of state, not of nature, amongst the same nations, so also has He discriminated their flesh, which is one and the same substance in those nations, not according to their material structure, but according to the recompense of their merit.
1 Cor. iii. 22.591:7740
Isa. xl. 7.591:7741
Isa. xl. 15.591:7744
Isa. 40.17. The word is spittle, which the LXX. uses in the fifteenth verse for the “dust” of the Hebrew Bible.591:7745
Isa. xlii. 4, Sept; quoted from the LXX. by Christ in Matt. xii. 21, and by St. Paul in Rom. xv. 12.591:7746
An allusion to some conceits of the Valentinians, who put men of truest nature and fit for Christs grace outside of the ocean-bounded earth, etc.
Next: All the Characteristics of Our Bodies--Sex, Various Limbs, Etc.--Will Be Retained, Whatever Change of Functions These May Have, of Which Point, However, We are No Judges. Analogy of the Repaired Ship.
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