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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:
The Incarnation of the Word.: The change wrought by the Cross in the relation of Death to Man.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

§27. The change wrought by the Cross in the relation of Death to Man.

For that death is destroyed, and that the Cross is become the victory over it, and that it has no more power but is verily dead, this is no small proof, or rather an evident warrant, that it is despised by all Christ’s disciples, and that they all take the aggressive against it and no longer fear it; but by the sign of the Cross and by faith in Christ tread p. 51 it down as dead. 2. For of old, before the divine sojourn of the Saviour took place, even to the saints death was terrible 276 , and all wept for the dead as though they perished. But now that the Saviour has raised His body, death is no longer terrible; for all who believe in Christ tread him under as nought, and choose rather to die than to deny their faith in Christ. For they verily know that when they die they are not destroyed, but actually [begin to] live, and become incorruptible through the Resurrection. 3. And that devil that once maliciously exulted in death, now that its 277 pains were loosed, remained the only one truly dead. And a proof of this is, that before men believe Christ, they see in death an object of terror, and play the coward before him. But when they are gone over to Christ’s faith and teaching, their contempt for death is so great that they even eagerly rush upon it, and become witnesses for the Resurrection the Saviour has accomplished against it. For while still tender in years they make haste to die, and not men only, but women also, exercise themselves by bodily discipline against it. So weak has he become, that even women who were formerly deceived by him, now mock at him as dead and paralyzed. 4. For as when a tyrant has been defeated by a real king, and bound hand and foot, then all that pass by laugh him to scorn, buffeting and reviling him, no longer fearing his fury and barbarity, because of the king who has conquered him; so also, death having been conquered and exposed by the Saviour on the Cross, and bound hand and foot, all they who are in Christ, as they pass by, trample on him, and witnessing to Christ scoff at death, jesting at him, and saying what has been written against him of old: “O death 278 , where is thy victory? O grave, where is thy sting.”


Footnotes

51:276

Cf. Ps. 55:4, Ps. 89:47, Job 18:14.

51:277

Cf. Acts ii. 24

51:278

Cf. above, 21. 2.


Next: This exceptional fact must be tested by experience. Let those who doubt it become Christians.

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