Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: As the Flesh is a Partaker with the Soul in All Human Conduct, So Will It Be in the Recompense of Eternity.
Chapter XV.—As the Flesh is a Partaker with the Soul in All Human Conduct, So Will It Be in the Recompense of Eternity.
Come now, let our opponents sever the connection of the flesh with the soul in the affairs of life, that they may be emboldened to sunder it also in the recompense of life. Let them deny their association in acts, that they may be fairly able to deny also their participation in rewards. The flesh ought not to have any share in the sentence, if it had none in the cause of it. Let the soul alone be called back, if it alone went away. But (nothing of the kind ever happened); for the soul alone no more departed from life, than it ran through alone the course from which it departed—I mean this present life. Indeed, the soul alone is so far from conducting (the affairs of) life, that we do not withdraw from community with the flesh even our thoughts, however isolated they be, however unprecipitated into act by means of the flesh; since whatever is done in mans heart is done by the soul in the flesh, and with the flesh, and through the flesh. The Lord Himself, in short, when rebuking our thoughts, includes in His censures this aspect of the flesh, (mans heart), the citadel of the soul: “Why think ye evil in your hearts?” 7371 and again: “Whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.” 7372 So that even the thought, without operation and without effect, is an act of the flesh. But if you allow that the faculty which rules the senses, and which they call Hegemonikon, 7373 has its sanctuary in the brain, or in the interval between the eyebrows, or wheresoever the philosophers are pleased to locate it, the flesh will still be the thinking place of the soul. The soul is never without the flesh, as long as it is in the flesh. There is nothing which the flesh does not transact in company with the soul, when without it it does not exist. Consider carefully, too, whether the thoughts are not administered by the flesh, since it is through the flesh that they are distinguished and known externally. Let the soul only meditate some design, the face gives the indication—the face being the mirror of all our intentions. They may deny all combination in acts, but they cannot gainsay their co-operation in thoughts. Still they enumerate the sins of the flesh; surely, then, for its sinful conduct it must be consigned to punishment. But we, moreover, allege against them the virtues of the flesh; surely also for its virtuous conduct it deserves a future reward. Again, as it is the soul which acts and impels us in all we do, so it is the function of the flesh to render obedience. Now we are not permitted to suppose that God is either unjust or idle. Unjust, (however He would be,) were He to exclude from reward the flesh which is associated in good works; and idle, were He to exempt it from punishment, when it has been an accomplice in evil deeds: whereas human judgment is deemed to be the more perfect, when it discovers the agents in every deed, and neither spares the guilty nor grudges the virtuous their full share of either punishment or praise with the principals who employed their services.
Matt. ix. 4.555:7372
Matt. v. 28.555:7373
The leading power.
Next: The Heretics Called the Flesh “The Vessel of the Soul,” In Order to Destroy the Responsibility of the Body. Their Cavil Turns Upon Themselves and Shows the Flesh to Be a Sharer in Human Actions.
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