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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 4

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 4.—Against the Wise Men of the World, Who Fancy that the Earthly Bodies of Men Cannot Be Transferred to a Heavenly Habitation.

But men who use their learning and intellectual ability to resist the force of that great authority which, in fulfillment of what was so long before predicted, has converted all races of men to faith and hope in its promises, seem to themselves to argue acutely against the resurrection of the body while they cite what Cicero mentions in the third book De Republica.  For when he was asserting the apotheosis of Hercules and Romulus, he says:  “Whose bodies were not taken up into heaven; for nature would not permit a body of earth to exist anywhere except upon earth.”  This, forsooth, is the profound reasoning of the wise men, whose thoughts God knows that they are vain.  For if we were only souls, that is, spirits without any body, and if we dwelt in heaven and had no knowledge of earthly animals, and were told that we should be bound to earthly bodies by some wonderful bond of union, and should animate them, should we not much more vigorously refuse to believe this, and maintain that nature would not permit an incorporeal substance to be held by a corporeal bond?  And yet the earth is full of living spirits, to which terrestrial bodies are bound, and with which they are in a wonderful way implicated.  If, then, the same God who has created such beings wills this also, what is to hinder the earthly body from being raised to a heavenly body, since a spirit, which is more excellent than all bodies, and consequently than even a heavenly body, has been tied to an earthly body?  If so small an earthly particle has been able to hold in union with itself something better than a heavenly body, so as to receive sensation and life, will heaven disdain to receive, or at least to retain, this sentient and living particle, which derives its life and sensation from a substance more excellent than any heavenly body?  If this does not happen now, it is because the time is not yet come which has been determined by Him who has already done a much more marvellous thing than that which these men refuse to believe.  For why do we not more intensely wonder that incorporeal souls, which are of higher rank than heavenly bodies, are bound to earthly bodies, rather than that bodies, although earthly, are exalted to an abode which, though heavenly, is yet corporeal, except because we have been accustomed to see this, and indeed are this, while we are not as yet that other marvel, nor have as yet ever seen it?  Certainly, if we consult sober reason, the more wonderful of the two divine works is found to be to attach somehow corporeal things to incorporeal, and not to connect earthly things with heavenly, which, though diverse, are yet both of them corporeal.


Next: Chapter 5

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