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Chapter XXXII.

Celsus next assails the doctrine of the resurrection, which is a high and difficult doctrine, and one which more than others requires a high and advanced degree of wisdom to set forth how worthy it is of God; and how sublime a truth it is which teaches us that there is a seminal principle lodged in that which Scripture speaks of as the “tabernacle” of the soul, in which the righteous “do groan, being burdened, not for that they would be unclothed, but clothed upon.”47494749    2 Cor. v. 1, 4.  Celsus ridicules this doctrine because he does not understand it, and because he has learnt it from ignorant persons, who were unable to support it on any reasonable grounds.  It will be profitable, therefore, that in addition to what we have said above, we should make this one remark.  Our teaching on the subject of the resurrection is not, as Celsus imagines, derived from anything that we have heard on the doctrine of metempsychosis; but we know that the soul, which is immaterial and invisible in its nature, exists in no material place, without having a body suited to the nature of that place.  Accordingly, it at one time puts off one body which was necessary before, but which is no longer adequate in its changed state, and it exchanges it for a second; and at another time it assumes another in addition to the former, which is needed as a better covering, suited to the purer ethereal regions of heaven.  When it comes into the world at birth, it casts off the integuments which it needed in the womb; and before doing this, it puts on another body suited for its life upon earth.  Then, again, as there is “a tabernacle” and “an earthly house” which is in some sort necessary for this tabernacle, Scripture teaches us that “the earthly house of this tabernacle shall be dissolved,” but that the tabernacle shall “be clothed upon with a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”47504750    2 Cor. v. 1.  The men of God say also that “the corruptible shall put on incorruption,”47514751    1 Cor. xv. 53. which is a different thing from “the incorruptible;” and “the mortal shall put on immortality,” which is different from “the immortal.”  Indeed, what “wisdom” is to “the wise,” and “justice” to “the just,” and “peace” to “the peaceable,” the same relation does “incorruption” hold to “the incorruptible,” and “immortality” to “the immortal.”  625Behold, then, to what a prospect Scripture encourages us to look, when it speaks to us of being clothed with incorruption and immortality, which are, as it were, vestments which will not suffer those who are covered with them to come to corruption or death.  Thus far I have taken the liberty of referring to this subject, in answer to one who assails the doctrine of the resurrection without understanding it, and who, simply because he knew nothing about it, made it the object of contempt and ridicule.


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