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CHAPTER LXXXISome Points of Reply to Difficulties on the Resurrection

IN the first creation of human nature God endowed the human body with an attribute over and above what was due to it by the natural principles of its constitution, namely, with a certain imperishability, to adapt it to its form, that as the life of the soul is perpetual, so the body might perpetually live by the soul. Granting that this imperishability was not natural in regard of the active principle,10281028By the ‘active principle’ he means what we should call the ‘organism’ of the human body. Of no animal body is the organism ever so perfect as to involve its living for ever, apart from special divine protection and sustenance. St Thomas was not blind to that fact, neither was St Augustine. still it may be called natural in regard of the end, taking the end of matter to be proportioned to its natural form. When then, contrary to the order of its nature, the soul turned away from God, there was withdrawn from the body that God-given constitution which made it proportionate to the soul; and death ensued. Considering then how human nature actually was constituted to begin with, we may say that death is something which has accidentally supervened upon man through sin. This accident has been removed by Christ, who by the merit of His passion and death has destroyed death. Consequently that same divine power, which originally endowed the body with incorruption, will restore the body again from death to life.

None of the essential elements in man is altogether annihilated in death. The rational soul, the ‘form’ of man, remains after death. The matter also remains, which was subject to that form. So by the union of numerically the same soul with numerically the same matter, numerically the same man will be restored.10291029   I add by way of note the sequel in the text. The refinements of scholasticism have their place in the history of human thought.
   “Corporeity may be taken in two senses. In one way as it is the substantial form of a body, according as that body has its place in the genus of substance. Taken thus, the corporeity of any body is nothing else than its substantial form, in respect of which the body is classified according to genus and species: by virtue of this substantial form it is due to a bodily thing to exist in three dimensions. For there are not different substantial forms in one and the same thing; one form, to place it in the highest genus, say, of ’substance’; and another to place it in the proximate genus, say, of ‘corporeal’ or ‘animal substance’; and a third to put it in the species, say, of ‘man’ or ‘horse’: for if the first form made it a substance, the forms that followed would supervene upon something that was already in actuality and subsisting in nature; and thus the latter forms would not make it an individual thing, but would be in a subject that was already an individual thing, as is the case with accidental forms. Corporeity, therefore, considered as the substantial form in man, can be no other than the rational soul, which requires in its matter the possession of three dimensions: for it is the actualising principle of a body. In another way corporeity is taken to mean the accidental form whereby a body is said to be in the genus of quantity; and taken thus, corporeity is nothing else than the three dimensions which make the essence of a body. Though then this corporeity falls away to nothing when the human body rots, that cannot hinder the body from rising again numerically the same, since corporeity in the first sense does not fall away to nothing, but remains the same.”


What does not bar numerical unity in a man while he lives on uninterruptedly, clearly can be no bar to the identity of the risen man with the man that was. In a man’s body while he lives, there are not always the same parts in respect of matter, but only in respect of species. In respect of matter there is a flux and reflux of parts: still that fact does not bar the man’s numerical unity from the beginning to the end of his life. We have an example in a fire, which, while it goes on burning, is called numerically one, because its species remains, though the wood is burnt out and fresh wood supplied. So it is in the human body: for the form and species (kind) of the several parts continues unbroken throughout life, but the matter of the parts is dissolved by the natural heat, and new matter accrues by nourishment. But the man is not numerically different by the difference of his component parts at different ages, although it is true that the material composition of the man at one stage of his life is not his material composition at another. So then, for numerically the same man to rise again, it is not requisite for all the material that ever entered into his composition throughout the whole course of his life to be gathered together and resumed, but just so much of it as suffices to make up his proper bulk and stature. We may expect that to be resumed by preference, which was more perfect in the species and form of humanity.10301030With the good man, the elements of the beauty of his youth may be expected so rise again rather than the ungainly dimensions of middle-aged obesity. If anything was wanting to his due stature, either through untimely death or mutilation, divine power will supply that from elsewhere. Nor will this supplementary matter mar the personal identity of the risen body: for even in the workmanship of nature addition is made from without to the stature of a boy without prejudice to his identity: for the boy and the adult is numerically the same man.10311031What is here said is answer sufficient to the difficulty about cannibalism, which St Thomas next goes into. The discussion of the man who all his life had eaten nothing but human flesh (solis carnibus humanis pastus), and whose father and mother had been reared on the same peculiar fare, reads like an afternoon causerie of the Angelic Doctor with some rather young undergraduates on the bank of the Seine.

The resurrection is natural in respect of its end and term, inasmuch as it is natural to the soul to be united to the body: but its efficient cause is not any agency of nature, but the divine power alone.

All men will rise again, though not all have adhered by faith to Christ, or have received His Sacraments. For the Son of God assumed human nature, in order to restore it: the defect of nature then shall be made good in all, inasmuch as all shall return from death to life: but the defect shall not be perfectly made good except in such as have adhered to Christ, either by their own act believing in Him, or at least by the Sacrament of faith.10321032The case is that of infants, who die baptised before they are old enough to make an act of faith.

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