Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: The True Functions of the Soul. Christ Assumed It in His Perfect Human Nature, Not to Reveal and Explain It, But to Save It. Its Resurrection with the Body Assured by Christ.
Chapter XII.—The True Functions of the Soul. Christ Assumed It in His Perfect Human Nature, Not to Reveal and Explain It, But to Save It. Its Resurrection with the Body Assured by Christ.
Well, now, let it be granted that the soul is made apparent by the flesh, 7104 on the assumption that it was evidently necessary 7105 that it should be made apparent in some way or other, that is, as being incognizable to itself and to us: there is still an absurd distinction in this hypothesis, which implies that we are ourselves separate from our soul, when all that we are is soul. Indeed, 7106 without the soul we are nothing; there is not even the name of a human being, only that of a carcase. If, then, we are ignorant of the soul, it is in fact the soul that is ignorant of itself. Thus the only remaining question left for us to look into is, whether the soul was in this matter so ignorant of itself that it became known in any way it could. 7107 The soul, in my opinion, 7108 is sensual. 7109 Nothing, therefore, pertaining to the soul is unconnected with sense, 7110 nothing pertaining to sense is unconnected with the soul. 7111 And if I may use the expression for the sake of emphasis, I would say, “Animœ anima sensus est”—“Sense is the souls very soul.” Now, since it is the soul that imparts the faculty of perception 7112 to all (that have sense), and since it is itself that perceives the very senses, not to say properties, of them all, how is it likely that it did not itself receive sense as its own natural constitution? Whence is it to know what is necessary for itself under given circumstances, from the very necessity of natural causes, if it knows not its own property, and what is necessary for it? To recognise this indeed is within the competence of every soul; it has, I mean, a practical knowledge of itself, without which knowledge of itself no soul could possibly have exercised its own functions. 7113 I suppose, too, that it is especially suitable that man, the only rational animal, should have been furnished with such a soul as would make him the rational animal, itself being pre-eminently rational. Now, how can that soul which makes man a rational animal be itself rational if it be itself ignorant of its rationality, being ignorant of its own very self? So far, however, is it from being ignorant, that it knows its own Author, its own Master, and its own condition. Before it learns anything about God, it names the name of God. Before it acquires any knowledge of His judgment, it professes to commend itself to God. There is nothing one oftener hears of than that there is no hope after death; and yet what imprecations or deprecations does not the soul use according as the man dies after a well or ill spent life! These reflections are more fully pursued in a short treatise which we have written, “On the Testimony of the Soul.” 7114 Besides, if the soul was ignorant of itself from the beginning, there is nothing it could 7115 have learnt of Christ except its own quality. 7116 It was not its own form that it learnt of Christ, but its salvation. For this cause did the Son of God descend and take on Him a soul, not that the soul might discover itself in Christ, but Christ in itself. For its salvation is endangered, not by its being ignorant of itself, but of the word of God. “The life,” says He, “was manifested,” 7117 not the soul. And again, “I am come to save the soul.” He did not say, “to explain” 7118 it. We could not know, of course, 7119 that the soul, although an invisible essence, is born and dies, unless it were exhibited corporeally. We certainly were ignorant that it was to rise again with the flesh. This is the truth which it will be found was manifested by Christ. But even this He did not manifest in Himself in a different way than in some Lazarus, whose flesh was no more composed of soul 7120 than his soul was of flesh. 7121 What further knowledge, therefore, have we received of the structure 7122 of the soul which we were ignorant of before? What invisible part was there belonging to it which wanted to be made visible by the flesh?
Sensualis: endowed with sense.532:7110
Nihil animale sine sensu.532:7111
Nihil sensuale sine anima.532:7112
We should have been glad of a shorter phrase for sentire (“to use sense”), had the whole course of the passage permitted it.532:7113
See especially chap. iv. supra.532:7115
Nisi qualis esset.532:7117
1 John i. 2.532:7118
Ostendere; see Luke ix. 56.532:7119
Next: Christ's Human Nature. The Flesh and the Soul Both Fully and Unconfusedly Contained in It.
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