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God, then, gives to each thing its own body as He pleases: as in the case of plants that are sown, so also in the case of those beings who are, as it were, sown in dying, and who in due time receive, out of what has been “sown,” the body assigned by God to each one according to his deserts. And we may hear, moreover, the Scripture teaching us at great length the difference between that which is, as it were, “sown,” and that which is, as it were, “raised” from it in these words: “It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”41494149 Cf. 1 Cor. xv. 42–44. And let him who has the capacity understand the meaning of the words: “As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”41504150 Cf. 1 Cor. xv. 48, 49. And although the apostle wished to conceal the secret meaning of the passage, which was not adapted to the simpler class of believers, and to the understanding of the common people, who are led by their faith to enter on a better course of life, he was nevertheless obliged afterwards to say (in order that we might not misapprehend his meaning), after “Let us bear the image of the heavenly,” these words also: “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”41514151 Cf. 1 Cor. xv. 50. Then, knowing that there was a secret and mystical meaning in the passage, as was becoming in one who was leaving, in his Epistles, to those who were to come after him words full of significance, he subjoins the following, “Behold, I show you a mystery;”41524152 Cf. 1 Cor. xv. 51. which is his usual style in introducing matters of a profounder and more mystical nature, and such as are fittingly concealed from the multitude, as is written in the book of Tobit: “It is good to keep close the secret of a king, but honourable to reveal the works of God,”41534153 Cf. Tobit xii. 7.—in a way consistent with truth and God’s glory, and so as to be to the advantage of the multitude. Our hope, then, is not “the hope of worms, nor does our soul long for a body that has seen corruption;” for although it may require a body, for the sake of moving from place to place,41544154 διὰ τὰς τοπικὰς μεταβάσεις. yet it understands—as having meditated on the wisdom (that is from above), agreeably to the declaration, “The mouth of the righteous will speak wisdom”41554155 Cf. Ps. xxxvii. 30.—the difference between the “earthly house,” in which is the tabernacle of the building that is to be dissolved, and that in which the righteous do groan, being burdened,—not wishing to “put off” the tabernacle, but to be “clothed therewith,” that by being clothed upon, mortality might be swallowed up of life. For, in virtue of the whole nature of the body being corruptible, the corruptible tabernacle must put on incorruption; and its other part, being mortal, and becoming liable to the death which follows sin, must put on immortality, in order that, when the corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and the mortal immortality, then shall come to pass what was predicted of old by the prophets,—the annihilation of the “victory” of death (because it had conquered and subjected us to his sway), and of its “sting,” with which it stings the imperfectly defended soul, and inflicts upon it the wounds which result from sin.
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