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I. God did not make evil,28452845 [See p. 363, supra.] nor is He at all in any way the author of evil; but whatever failed to keep the law, which He in all justice ordained, after being made by Him with the faculty of free-will, for the purpose of guarding and keeping it, is called evil. Now it is the gravest fault to disobey God, by overstepping the bounds of that righteousness which is consistent with free-will.
II. Now the question has already been raised,28462846 Cf. Anastasius, in Doctrina Patrum de Verbi Incarnatione, c. 25.—Jahn. and answered,28472847 By Epiphanius, Hær., lxiv. n. 22.—Migne. that the “coats of skins”28482848 Gen. iii. 21. are not bodies. Nevertheless, let us speak of it again, for it is not enough to have mentioned it once. Before the preparation of these coats of skins, the first man himself acknowledges that he has both bones and flesh; for when he saw the woman brought to him: “This is now,” he cried,28492849 Gen. ii. 23, 24. “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” And again: She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.28502850 [See vol. iv. p. 38, this series.] For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” For I cannot endure the trifling of some who shamelessly do violence to Scripture, in order that their opinion, that the resurrection is without flesh, may find support; supposing rational bones and flesh, and in different ways changing it backwards and forwards by allegorizing. And Christ confirms the taking of these things as they are written, when, to the question of the Pharisees about putting away a wife, He answers: “Have ye not read that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female; and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father,”28512851 Matt. xix. 4, 5. and so on.
III. But it is evidently absurd to think that the body will not co-exist with the soul in the eternal state, because it is a bond and fetters; in order that, according to their view, we who are to live in the kingdom of light may not be for ever condemned to be bondmen of corruption. For as the question has been sufficiently solved, and the statement refitted in which they defined the flesh to be the soul’s chain, the argument also is destroyed, that the flesh will not rise again, lest, if we resume it, we be prisoners in the kingdom of light.
IV. In order, then, that man might not be an undying or ever-living evil, as would have been the case if sin were dominant within him, as it had sprung up in an immortal body, and was provided with immortal sustenance, God for this cause pronounced him mortal, and clothed him with mortality. For this is what was meant by the coats of skins, in order that, by the dissolution of the body, sin might be altogether destroyed from the very roots, that there might not be left even the smallest particle of root from which new shoots of sin might again burst forth.
V. For as a fig-tree, which has grown in the splendid buildings28522852 [i.e., “in the courts of the Lord’s house;” among the buildings.] of a temple, and has reached a great size, and is spread over all the joints of the stones with thickly-branching roots, ceases not to grow, till, by the loosening of the stones from the place in which it sprung up, it is altogether torn away; for it is possible for the stones to be fitted into their own places, when the fig tree is taken away, so that the temple may be preserved, having no longer to support what was the cause of its own destruction; while the fig-tree, torn away by the roots, dies; in the same way also, God, the builder, checked by the seasonable application of death, His own temple, man, when he had fostered sin, like a wild fig-tree, “killing,”28532853 Deut. xxxii. 39. in the words of Scripture, “and making alive,” in order that the flesh, after sin is withered and dead, may, like a restored temple, be raised up again with the same parts, uninjured and immortal, while sin is utterly and entirely destroyed. For while the body still lives, before it has passed through death, sin must also live with it, as it has its roots concealed within us even though it be externally checked by the 365wounds inflicted by corrections and warnings; since, otherwise, it would not happen that we do wrong after baptism, as we should be entirely and absolutely free from sin. But now, even after believing, and after the time of being touched by the water of sanctification, we are oftentimes found in sin. For no one can boast of being so free from sin as not even to have an evil thought. So that it is come to pass that sin is now restrained and lulled to sleep by faith, so that it does not produce injurious fruits, but yet is not torn up by the roots. For the present we restrain its sprouts, such as evil imaginations, “lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble”28542854 Heb. xii. 15. us, not suffering its leaves to unclose and open into shoots; while the Word, like an axe, cuts at its roots which grow below. But hereafter the very thought of evil will disappear.
VI. But come now, since there is need of many examples in matters of this kind, let us examine them particularly from this point of view, without desisting till our argument ends in clearer explanation and proof. It appears, then, as if an eminent craftsman were to cast over again a noble image, wrought by himself of gold or other material, and beautifully proportioned in all its members, upon his suddenly perceiving that it had been mutilated by some infamous man, who, too envious to endure the image being beautiful, spoiled it, and thus enjoyed the empty pleasure of indulged jealousy. For take notice, most wise Aglaophon, that, if the artificer wish that that upon which he has bestowed so much pains and care and labour, shall be quite free from injury, he will be impelled to melt it down, and restore it to its former condition. But if he should not cast it afresh, nor reconstruct it, but allow it to remain as it is, repairing and restoring it, it must be that the image, being passed through the fire and forged, cannot any longer be preserved unchanged, but will be altered and wasted. Wherefore, if he should wish it to be perfectly beautiful and faultless, it must be broken up and recast, in order that all the disfigurements and mutilations inflicted upon it by treachery and envy, may be got rid of by the breaking up and recasting of it, while the image is restored again uninjured and unalloyed to the same form as before, and made as like itself as possible. For it is impossible for an image under the hands of the original artist to be lost, even if it be melted down again, for it may be restored; but it is possible for blemishes and injuries to be put off, for they melt away and cannot be restored; because in every work of art the best craftsman looks not for blemish or failure, but for symmetry and correctness in his work. Now God’s plan seems to me to have been the same as that which prevails among ourselves. For seeing man, His fairest work, corrupted by envious treachery, He could not endure, with His love for man, to leave him in such a condition, lest he should be for ever faulty, and bear the blame to eternity; but dissolved him again into his original materials, in order that, by remodelling, all the blemishes in him might waste away and disappear. For the melting down of the statue in the former case corresponds to the death and dissolution of the body in the latter, and the remoulding of the material in the former, to the resurrection after death in the latter; as also saith the prophet Jeremiah, for he addresses the Jews in these words, “And I went down to the potter’s house; and, behold, he wrought a work upon the stones. And the vessel which he made in his hands was broken; and again he made another vessel, as it pleased him to make it. And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Cannot I do to you as this potter, O house of Israel? Behold, as the clay of the potter are ye in my hands.”28552855 Jer. xviii. 3–6.
VII. For I call your attention to this, that, as I said, after man’s transgression the Great Hand was not content to leave as a trophy of victory its own work, debased by the Evil One, who wickedly injured it from motives of envy; but moistened and reduced it to clay, as a potter breaks up a vessel, that by the remodelling of it all the blemishes and bruises in it may disappear, and it may be made afresh faultless and pleasing.
VIII. But it is not satisfactory to say that the universe will be utterly destroyed, and sea and air and sky will be no longer. For the whole world will be deluged with fire from heaven, and burnt for the purpose of purification and renewal; it will not, however, come to complete ruin and corruption. For if it were better for the world not to be than to be, why did God, in making the world, take the worse course? But God did not work in vain, or do that which was worst. God therefore ordered the creation with a view to its existence and continuance, as also the Book of Wisdom confirms, saying, “For God created all things that they might have their being; and the generations of the world were healthful, and there is no poison of destruction in them.”28562856 Wisd. i. 14. And Paul clearly testifies this, saying, “For the earnest expectation of the creature28572857 [Greek, creation, κτίσις. The English version faulty and confusing.] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature28582858 [Greek, creation, κτίσις. The English version faulty and confusing.] was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him that subjected the same in hope: because the creature28592859 [Greek, creation, κτίσις. The English version faulty and confusing.] itself also shall be delivered from the 366bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”28602860 Rom. viii. 19–21. For the creation was made subject to vanity, he says, and he expects that it will be set free from such servitude, as he intends to call this world by the name of creation. For it is not what is unseen but what is seen that is subject to corruption. The creation, then, after being restored to a better and more seemly state, remains, rejoicing and exulting over the children of God at the resurrection; for whose sake it now groans and travails,28612861 The reading and punctuation of Jahn are here adopted. waiting itself also for our redemption from the corruption of the body, that, when we have risen and shaken off the mortality of the flesh, according to that which is written, “Shake off the dust, and arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem,”28622862 Isa. lii. 2. and have been set free from sin, it also shall be freed from corruption and be subject no longer to vanity, but to righteousness. Isaiah says, too, “For as the new heaven and the new earth which I make, remaineth before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name be;”28632863 Isa. lxvi. 22. and again, “Thus saith the Lord that created the heaven, it is He who prepared the earth and created it, He determined it; He created it not in vain, but formed it to be inhabited.”28642864 Isa. xlv. 18. For in reality God did not establish the universe in vain, or to no purpose but destruction, as those weak-minded men say, but to exist, and be inhabited, and continue. Wherefore the earth and the heaven must exist again after the conflagration and shaking of all things.
IX. But if our opponents say, How then is it, if the universe be not destroyed, that the Lord says that “heaven and earth shall pass away;”28652865 Matt. xxiv. 35. and the prophet, that “the heaven shall perish as smoke, and the earth shall grow old as a garment;”28662866 Isa. li. 6. we answer, because it is usual for the Scriptures to call the change of the world from its present condition to a better and more glorious one, destruction; as its earlier form is lost in the change of all things to a state of greater splendour; for there is no contradiction nor absurdity in the Holy Scriptures. For not “the world” but the “fashion of this world” passeth away,28672867 1 Cor. vii. 31. it is said; so it is usual for the Scriptures to call the change from an earlier form to a better and more comely state, destruction; just as when one calls by the name of destruction the change from a childish form into a perfect man, as the stature of the child is turned into manly size and beauty. We may expect that the creation will pass away, as if it were to perish in the burning, in order that it may be renewed, not however that it will be destroyed, that we who are renewed may dwell in a renewed world without taste of sorrow; according as it is said, “When Thou lettest Thy breath go forth, they shall be made, and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth;”28682868 Ps. civ. 30. God henceforth providing for the due temperature of that which surrounds it. For as the earth is to exist after the present age,28692869 Or, “dispensation.” there must be by all means inhabitants for it, who shall no longer be liable to death, nor shall marry, nor beget children, but live in all happiness, like the angels, without change or decay. Wherefore it is silly to discuss in what way of life our bodies will then exist, if there is no longer air, nor earth, nor anything else.
X. But in addition to what has been said, there is this point worth consideration, since it misleads very much, if we may be outspoken about matters of such importance, Aglaophon. For you said that the Lord declared plainly28702870 When tempted by the Sadducees. that those who shall obtain the resurrection shall then be as the angels.28712871 Matt. xxii. 30. You brought this objection: The angels, being without flesh, are on this account in the utmost happiness and glory. We must then, as we are to be made equal to the angels, be like them stripped of flesh, and be angels. But you overlooked this, my excellent friend, that He who created and set in order the universe out of nothing, ordained the nature of immortal beings to be distributed not only among angels and ministers, but also among principalities, and thrones, and powers. For the race of angels is one, and that of principalities and powers another; because immortal beings are not all of one order, and constitution, and tribe, and family, but there are differences of race and tribe. And neither do the cherubim, departing from their own nature, assume the form of angels; nor, again, do angels assume the form of the others. For they cannot be anything but what they are and have been made. Moreover, man also having been appointed by the original order of things to inhabit the world, and to rule over all that is in it, when he is immortal, will never be changed from being a man into the form either of angels or any other; for neither do angels undergo a change from their original form to another. For Christ at His coming did not proclaim that the human nature should, when it is immortal, be remoulded or transformed into another nature, but into what it was before the fall. For each one among created things must remain in its own proper place, that none may be wanting to any, but all may be full: heaven of angels, thrones of powers, luminaries of ministers; and the more divine spots, and the undefiled and untainted lumina367ries, with seraphim, who attend the Supreme Council, and uphold the universe; and the world of men. For if we granted that men are changed into angels, it would follow that we say that angels also are changed into powers, and these into one thing and the other, until our argument proceed too far for safety.
XI. Neither did God, as if He had made man badly, or committed a mistake in the formation of him, determine afterwards to make an angel, repenting of His work, as the worst of craftsmen do; nor did He fashion man, after He had wished originally to make an angel, and failed; for this would be a sign of weakness, etc. Why even then did He make man and not angels, if He wished men to be angels and not men? Was it because He was unable? It is blasphemy to suppose so. Or was He so busy in making the worse as to loiter about the better? This too is absurd. For He does not fail in making what is good, nor defers it, nor is incapable of it; but He has the power to act how and when He pleases, inasmuch as He is Himself power. Wherefore it was because He intended man to be man, that He originally made him so. But if He so intended—since He intends what is good—man is good. Now man is said to be composed of soul and body; he cannot then exist without a body, but with a body, unless there be produced another man besides man. For all the orders of immortal beings must be preserved by God, and among these is man. “For,” says the Book of Wisdom, “God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of His own eternity.”28722872 Wisd. ii. 23. The body then perishes not; for man is composed of soul and body.
XII. Wherefore observe that these are the very things which the Lord wished to teach to the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection of the flesh. For this was the opinion of the Sadducees. Whence it was that, having contrived the parable about the woman and the seven brethren, that they might cast doubt upon the resurrection of the flesh, “There came to Him,”28732873 Matt. xxii. 23. it is said, “the Sadducees also, who say that there is no resurrection.” Christ, then, if there had been no resurrection of the flesh, but the soul only were saved, would have agreed with their opinion as a right and excellent one. But as it was, He answered and said, “In the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels in heaven,”28742874 Matt. xxii. 23. not on account of having no flesh, but of not marrying nor being married, but being henceforth incorruptible. And He speaks of our being near the angels in this respect, that as the angels in heaven, so we also in paradise, spend our time no more in marriage-feasts or other festivities. but in seeing God and cultivating life, under the direction of Christ. For He did not say “they shall be angels,” but like angels, in being, for instance, crowned, as it is written, with glory and honour; differing a little from the angels,28752875 Ps. viii. 5. while near to being angels. Just as if He had said, while observing the fair order of the sky, and the stillness of the night, and everything illumined by the heavenly light of the moon, “the moon shines like the sun.” We should not then say that He asserted that the moon was absolutely the sun, but like the sun. As also that which is not gold, but approaching the nature of gold, is said not to be gold, but to be like gold. But if it were gold, it would be said to be, and not to be like, gold. But since it is not gold, but approaching to the nature of it, and has the appearance of it, it is said to be like gold; so also when He says that the saints shall. in the resurrection be like the angels, we do not understand Him to assert that they will then be actually angels, but approaching to the condition of angels. So that it is most unreasonable to say, “Since Christ declared that the saints in the resurrection appear as angels, therefore their bodies do not rise,” although the very words employed give a clear proof of the real state of the case. For the term “resurrection” is not applied to that which has not fallen, but to that which has fallen and rises again; as when the prophet says, “I will also raise up again the tabernacle of David which has fallen down.”28762876 Amos ix. 11. Now the much-desired tabernacle of the soul is fallen, and sunk down into “the dust of the earth.”28772877 Dan. xii. 2. For it is not that which is not dead, but that which is dead, that is laid down. But it is the flesh which dies; the soul is immortal. So, then, if the soul be immortal, and the body be the corpse, those who say that there is a resurrection, but not of the flesh, deny any resurrection; because it is not that which remains standing, but that which has fallen28782878 [A play on the Greek ἀνάστασις, but good exegesis.] and been laid down, that is set up; according to that which is written, “Does not he who falls rise again, and he who turns aside return?”28792879 Jer. viii. 4.
XIII. Since flesh was made to border on incorruption and corruption, being itself neither the one nor the other, and was overcome by corruption for the sake of pleasure, though it was the work and property of incorruption; therefore it became corruptible, and was laid in the dust of the earth. When, then, it was overcome by corruption, and delivered over to death through disobedience, God did not leave it to corruption to be triumphed over as an inheritance; but, 368after conquering death by the resurrection, delivered it again to incorruption, in order that corruption might not receive the property of incorruption, but incorruption that of corruption. Therefore the apostle answers thus, “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”28802880 1 Cor. xv. 53. Now the corruptible and mortal putting on immortality, what else is it but that which is “sown in corruption and raised in incorruption,”28812881 1 Cor. v. 42.—for the soul is not corruptible or mortal; but this which is mortal and corrupting is of flesh,—in order that, “as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly?”28822882 1 Cor. xv. 49. For the image of the earthy which we have borne is this, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”28832883 Gen. iii. 19. But the image of the heavenly is the resurrection from the dead, and incorruption, in order that “as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life.”28842884 Rom. vi. 4. But if any one were to think that the earthy image is the flesh itself, but the heavenly image some other spiritual body besides the flesh; let him first consider that Christ, the heavenly man, when He appeared, bore the same form of limbs and the same image of flesh as ours, through which also He, who was not man, became man, that “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”28852885 1 Cor. xv. 22. For if He bore flesh for any other reason than that of setting the flesh free, and raising it up, why did He bear flesh superfluously, as He purposed neither to save it, nor to raise it up? But the Son of God does nothing superfluously. He did not then take the form of a servant uselessly, but to raise it up and save it. For He truly was made man, and died, and not in mere appearance, but that He might truly be shown to be the first begotten from the dead, changing the earthy into the heavenly, and the mortal into the immortal. When, then, Paul says that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,”28862886 1 Cor. xv. 50. he does not give a disparaging opinion of the regeneration of the flesh, but would teach that the kingdom of God, which is eternal life, is not possessed by the body, but the body by the life. For if the kingdom of God, which is life, were possessed by the body, it would happen that the life would be consumed by corruption. But now the life possesses what is dying, in order that “death may be swallowed up in victory”28872887 1 Cor. xv. 54. by life, and the corruptible may be seen to be the possession of incorruption and immortality, while it becomes unbound and free from death and sin, but the slave and servant of immortality; so that the body may be the possession of incorruption, and not incorruption that of the body.
XIV. If, then, out of such a drop, small, and previously without any existence, in its actual state of moistness, contractedness, and insignificance, in fact out of nothing, man is brought into being, how much rather shall man spring again into being out of a previously existing man? For it is not so difficult to make anything anew after it has once existed and fallen into decay, as to produce out of nothing that which has never existed. Now, in case we choose to exhibit the seminal fluid discharged from a man, and place by it a corpse, each by itself, which of them, as they both lie exposed to view, will the spectators think most likely to become a man—that drop, which is nothing at all, or that which has already shape, and size, and substance? For if the very thing which is nothing at all, merely because God pleases, becomes a man, how much rather shall that which has existence and is brought to perfection become again a man, if God pleases? For what was the purpose of the theologian Moses, in introducing, under a mystical sense, the Feast of Tabernacles in the Book of Leviticus? Was it that we may keep a feast to God, as the Jews with their low view of the Scriptures interpret it? as if God took pleasure in such tabernacles, decked out with fruits and boughs and leaves, which immediately wither and lose their verdure. We cannot say so. Tell me, then, what was the object of the Feast of Tabernacles? It was introduced to point to this real tabernacle of ours, which, after it was fallen down to corruption through the transgression of the law, and broken up by sin, God promised to put together again, and to raise up in incorruptibility, in order that we may truly celebrate in His honour the great and renowned Feast of Tabernacles at the resurrection; when our tabernacles are put together in the perfect order of immortality and harmony, and raised up from the dust in incorruption; when the dry bones,28882888 Ezek. xxxvii. 4. according to the most true prophecy, shall hear a voice, and be brought to their joints by God, the Creator and Perfect Artificer, who will then renew the flesh and bind it on, no more with such ties as those by which it was at first held together, but by such as shall be for ever undecaying and indissoluble. For I once saw28892889 [See part ii. cap. viii., p. 375, infra.What he testifies may be accepted, at least, as his genuine conviction.] on Olympus, which is a mountain of Lycia, fire bursting up from the ground spontaneously on the summit of the mountain; and by it was standing an Agnos tree, so flourishing, green, and shady, that one might suppose a 369never-failing stream of water had nourished its growth, rather than what was really the case. For which cause, therefore, though the natures of things are corruptible, and their bodies consumed by fire, and it is impossible for things which are once of an inflammable nature to remain unaffected by fire; yet this tree, so far from being burnt, is actually more vigorous and green than usual, though it is naturally inflammable, and that too when the fire is glowing about its very roots. I certainly cast some boughs of trees from the adjoining wood on to the place where the fire burst forth, and they immediately caught fire and were burnt to ashes. Now, then, tell me why it is that that which cannot bear even to feel the heat of the sun, but withers up under it unless it be sprinkled with water, is not consumed when beset by such fiery heat, but both lives and thrives? What is the meaning of this marvel? God appointed this as an example and introduction to the day that is coming, in order that we may know more certainly that, when all things are deluged with fire from heaven, the bodies which are distinguished by chastity and righteousness will be taken up by Him as free from all injury from the fire as from cold water. For truly, O beneficent and bountiful Lord, “the creature that serveth Thee, who art the Maker, increaseth his strength against the unrighteous for their punishment, and abateth his strength for the benefit of such as put their trust in Thee;”28902890 Wisd. xvi. 24. and at Thy pleasure fire cools, and injures nothing that Thou determinest to be preserved; and again, water burns more fiercely than fire, and nothing opposes Thine unconquerable power and might. For Thou createdst all things out of nothing; wherefore also Thou changest and transformest all things as Thou wilt, seeing they are Thine, and Thou alone art God.
XV. The apostle certainly, after assigning the planting and watering to art and earth and water, conceded the growth to God alone, where he says, “Neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”28912891 1 Cor. iii. 7. For he knew that Wisdom, the first-born of God, the parent and artificer of all things, brings forth everything into the world; whom the ancients called Nature and Providence, because she, with constant provision and care, gives to all things birth and growth. “For,” says the Wisdom of God, “my Father worketh hitherto, and I work.”28922892 John v. 17. Now it is on this account that Solomon called Wisdom the artificer of all things, since God is in no respect poor, but able richly to create, and make, and vary, and increase all things.
XVI. God, who created all things, and provides and cares for all things, took dust from the ground, and made our outer man.
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