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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 21

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 21.—Of the New Spiritual Body into Which the Flesh of the Saints Shall Be Transformed.

Whatever, therefore, has been taken from the body, either during life or after death shall be restored to it, and, in conjunction with what has remained in the grave, shall rise again, transformed from the oldness of the animal body into the newness of the spiritual body, and clothed in incorruption and immortality.  But even though the body has been all quite ground to powder by some severe accident, or by the ruthlessness of enemies, and though it has been so diligently scattered to the winds, or into the water, that there is no trace of it left, yet it shall not be beyond the omnipotence of the Creator,—no, not a hair of its head shall perish.  The flesh shall then be spiritual, and subject to the spirit, but still flesh, not spirit, as the spirit itself, when subject to the flesh, was fleshly, but still spirit and not flesh.  And of this we have experimental proof in the deformity of our penal condition.  For those persons were carnal, not in a fleshly, but in a spiritual way, to whom the apostle said, “I could not speak to you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal.” 1650   And a man is in this life spiritual in such a way, that he is yet carnal with respect to his body, and sees another law in his members warring against the law of his mind; but even in his body he will be spiritual when the same flesh shall have had that resurrection of which these words speak, “It is sown an animal body, it shall rise a spiritual body.” 1651   But what this spiritual body shall be and how great its grace, I fear it were but rash to pronounce, seeing that we have as yet no experience of it.  Nevertheless, since it is fit that the joyfulness of our hope should utter itself, and so show forth God’s praise, and since it was from the profoundest sentiment of ardent and holy love that the Psalmist cried, “O Lord, I have loved the beauty of Thy house,” 1652 we may, with God’s help, speak of the gifts He lavishes on men, good and bad alike, in this most wretched life, and may do our best to conjecture the great glory of that state which we cannot worthily speak of, because we have not yet experienced it.  For I say nothing of the time when God made man upright; I say nothing of the happy life of “the man and his wife” in the fruitful garden, since it was so short that none of their children experienced it:  I speak only of this life which we know, and in which we now are, from the temptations of which we cannot escape so long as we are in it, no matter what progress we make, for it is all temptation, and I ask, Who can describe the tokens of God’s goodness that are extended to the human race even in this life?


Footnotes

499:1650

1 Cor. 3.1.

499:1651

1 Cor. 15.44.

499:1652

Ps. 26.8.


Next: Chapter 22

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