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The letter against John of Jerusalem was written about the year 398 or 399, and was a product of the Origenistic controversy. Its immediate occasion was the visit of Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, at Jerusalem, in 394. The bishop preached, in the Church of the Resurrection (§11), a pointed sermon against Origenism, which was thought to be so directly aimed at John that the latter sent his archdeacon to remonstrate with the preacher (§14). After many unseemly scenes, Epiphanius advised Jerome and his friends to separate from their bishop (§39). But how were they to have the ministrations of the Church? This difficulty was surmounted by Epiphanius, who took Jerome's brother to the monastery which he had founded at Ad, in the diocese of Eleutheropolis, and there ordained him against his will, even using force to overcome his opposition (Jerome, Letter LI. 1). Epiphanius attempted to defend his action (Jerome, Letter LI. 2), but John, after some time, appealed to Alexandria against Jerome and his supporters as schismatics. The bishop, Theophilus, at once took the side of John: but a letter, written by his emissary Isidore and intended for John, fell into the hands of Jerome (§37). The letter showed that Isidore was coming as a mere partisan of John, and Jerome, therefore, treated both it and the bearer with secret contempt. The dispute was thus prolonged for about four years, and, after some attempts at reconciliation, and the exhibition of much bitterness, amounting to the practical excommunication of Jerome and his friends, the dispute was stopped, perhaps by Theophilus, perhaps through the influence of Melania. The letter written to Pammachius at Rome, in 397 or 398, against John, was abruptly broken off, and it is almost certain that it was never published during Jerome's lifetime. Jerome afterwards had so much influence with Theophilus that we find him interceding for John, who had fallen under the Pontiff's displeasure (Letter LXXXVI. 1).
The date of this treatise is the subject of controversy. In §1 Jerome says that he wrote
after three years, that is, three years from the visit of Epiphanius to Jerusalem, which was in 394. This would give the date 397. At §14, also, he says that Epiphanius had been brooding over his wrongs for three years. Another note of time is found in the words of §43, that John had
lately sought to obtain a sentence of exile against Jerome from
that wild beast who threatened the necks of the whole world, that is, the Prefect Rufinus, who died at the end of 395. All these statements point to the year 397. On the other hand, at §17, he speaks of his
Commentaries on Ecclesiastes and Ephesians as having been written
about (ferme) ten years ago; and the preface to Ecclesiastes says that he had read Ecclesiastes with Blesilla at Rome
about (ferme) five years ago, consequently, fifteen years before the writing of this treatise. Blesilla's death was in 384. The reading of Ecclesiastes may, therefore, have been in 383. And the fifteen years would bring us to 398. Also, at §41, Jerome says, addressing John.
You seem to have slept for thirteen years, implying that it was for thirteen years that the state of things complained of by John had existed, that is, the presence of the monks in his diocese, or, at least, their leaving their own dioceses. Jerome left Antioch, the diocese of his ordination, at the end of 385 or beginning of 386; these thirteen years, therefore, bring us to 399, the date adopted by Vallarsi. There is, however, an intimation in
Pallad. Hist. Laus., c. 117, that Melania, the friend of Rufinus, gave assistance in the matter of schism at Bethlehem, caused by the question of the ordination of Paulinianus. We know that Melania and Rufinus left Jerusalem early in 397, and that, before their departure, Jerome and Rufinus were reconciled. It would, therefore, seem most probable that the treatise, which is written with so much animosity against John, Rufinus's fellow-worker, and contains invidious allusions to Rufinus himself (§11,
your friends, who grin like dogs and turn up their noses, Jerome's constant description of Rufinus), was written before the reconciliation of Rufinus and Jerome, that is, in the end of 386 or the beginning of 387, and that it was broken off and kept unpublished because the situation had changed. Vallarsi places it in 399. He quotes the passages which make for the later date, but strangely omits the more definite statements which make for the earlier. It should be added that the letter of Jerome (LXXXII.) to Theophilus is evidently written at the same time, and under the same feelings, as this treatise. and, if the arguments above given are valid, that letter must be placed in 397, not in 399, as stated in the note prefixed to it. The short letter (LXXXVI.) to Theophilus is, in that case, probably to be placed in 398 or 399, rather than 401, as there stated.
The treatise is a letter to Pammachius, who had been disturbed by the complaints of Bishop John to Siricius, bishop of Rome, against Jerome. Jerome begins (1) by pleading necessity for his attack on the bishop. Epiphanius has accused him of heresy (2). Let him answer plainly (3), for it is pride alone (4) which prevents this. It is said that John's letter of explanation or apology was approved by Theophilus (5); but it did not touch the point, that is, the accusation of Origenism. Only three points are treated (6), and Epiphanius adduced eight — namely (7) Origen's opinions (i.) that the Son does not see the Father; (ii.) that souls are confined in earthly bodies, as in a prison; (iii.) that the devil may be saved; (iv.) that the skins with which God clothed Adam and Eve were human bodies; (v.) that the body in the resurrection will be without sex; (vi.) that the descriptions of Paradise are allegorical: trees meaning angels, and rivers the heavenly virtues; (vii) that the waters above and below the firmament are angels and devils; (viii.) that the image of God was altogether lost at the Fall. John, instead of answering on the first head, merely expressed his faith in the Trinity (8, 9), and all through tries to make out (10) that the question between him and Epiphanius relates merely to the ordination of Paulinianus. Jerome then relates the extraordinary scenes of the altercation between Epiphanius and John (11-14). He then turns to the Origenistic notions that angels are cast down into human souls (15, 16), that the spirits of men pass into the heavenly bodies (17) and that the souls of men had a previous existence (18), and pass up and down in the scale of creation (19, 20). John, instead of answering on these points, contents himself with protesting against Manichæism (21.) Jerome presses him on the question of the origin of souls (22), pronouncing rashly for creationism. He then passes to the question of the state of the body after the resurrection (23), asserting the restoration of the flesh as it now is (24-27), both in the case of Christ (28) and in our own, adducing testimonies from the Old Testament (29-32), and discussing the appearances of our Lord after His resurrection (34-36). He then passes to a detailed examination of John's letter or
Apology to Theophilus (37), quoting its words, and telling the story of the mission of Isidore (37, 38), and the attempts of the Count Archelaus to make peace (39). The ordination of Paulinianus, on which John lays stress, is a subterfuge (40, 41). The schism is due to the heretical tendencies of the bishop, who is everywhere denounced by Epiphanius (42, 43).
The letter is, throughout, violent and contemptuous in its tone, with an arrogant assumption that the writer is in possession of the whole truth on the difficult subject on which he writes, and that he has a right to demand from his bishop a confession of faith on each point on which he chooses to catechise him. Its importance lies in the fact that it, to a large extent, fixed the belief of churchmen on the points it deals with, and the mode of dealing with supposed heresy, for more than a thousand years.
1. If, according to the Romans 8:26 Apostle Paul, we cannot pray as we feel, and speech does not express the thoughts of our own minds, how much more dangerous is it to judge of another man's heart, and to trace and explain the meaning of the particular words and expressions which he uses? The nature of man is prone to mercy, and in considering another's sin, every one commiserates himself. Accordingly, if you blame one who offends in word, a man will say it was only simplicity; if you tax a man with craft, he to whom you speak will not admit that there is anything more in it than ignorance, so that he may avoid the suspicion of malice. And it will thus come to pass that you, the accuser, are made a slanderer, and the censured party is regarded, not as a heretic, but merely as a man without culture. You know, Pammachius, you know that it is not enmity or the lust of glory which leads me to engage in this work, but that I have been stimulated by your letters and that I act out of the fervour of my faith; and, if possible, I would have all understand that I cannot be blamed for impatience and rashness, seeing that I speak only after the lapse of three years. In fact, if you had not told me that the minds of many are troubled at the
Apology which I am about to discuss, and are tossing to and fro on a sea of doubt, I had determined to persist in silence.
2. So away with Novatus, who would not hold out a hand to the erring! perish Montanus and his mad women! Montanus, who would hurl the fallen into the abyss that they may never rise again. Every day we all sin and make some slip or other. Being then merciful to ourselves, we are not rigorous towards others; nay, rather, we pray and beseech him either to simply tell us our own faults, or to openly defend those of other men. I dislike ambiguities; I dislike to be told what is capable of two meanings. Let us contemplate with 2 Corinthians 3:18 unveiled face the glory of the Lord. Once upon a time the people of Israel halted between two opinions. But, said Elias, which is by interpretation the strong one of the Lord, 1 Kings 18:21 Jews,
the strange children lied unto me; the strange children became feeble, and limped out of their by-paths. If there really is no ground for suspecting him of heresy (as I wish and believe), why does he not speak out my opinion in my own words? He calls it simplicity; I interpret it as artfulness. He wishes to convince me that his belief is sound; let his speech, then, also be sound. And, indeed, if the ambiguity attached to a single word, or a single statement, or two or three, I could be indulgent on the score of ignorance; nor would I judge what is obscure or doubtful by the standard of what is certain and clear. But, as things are, this
simplicity is nothing but a platform trick, like walking on tiptoe over eggs or standing grain; there is doubt and suspicion everywhere. You might suppose he was not writing an exposition of the faith, but was writing a disputation on some imaginary theme. What he is now so keen upon, we learned long ago in the schools. He puts on our own armour to fight against us. Even if his faith be correct, and he speaks with circumspection and reserve, his extreme care rouses my suspicions. Proverbs 10:9
He that walks uprightly, walks boldly. It is folly to bear a bad name for nothing. A charge is brought against him of which he is not conscious. Let him confidently deny the charge which hangs upon a single word, and freely turn the tables against his adversary. Let the one exhibit the same boldness in repelling the charge which the other shows in advancing it. And when he has said all that he wishes and purposes to say, and such things as are above suspicion, if his opponent persists in slander, let him try conclusions in open court. I wish no one to sit still under an imputation of heresy, lest, if he say nothing, his want of openness be interpreted, among those who are not aware of his innocence, as the consciousness of guilt, although there is no need to demand the presence of a man and to reduce him to silence when you have his letters in your possession.
3. We all know what he wrote to you, what charge he brought against you, wherein (as you maintain) he has slandered you. Answer the points, one by one; follow the footsteps of this letter; leave not a single jot or tittle of the slander unnoticed. For if you are careless, and accidentally pass over any thing as I believe you on your oath to have done, he will immediately cry out:
Now, now, you have got the worst of it, the whole thing turns upon this. Words do not sound the same in the ears of friends and enemies. An enemy looks for a knot even in a bulrush; a friend judges even crooked to be straight. It is a saying of secular writers that lovers are blind in their judgments, though, perhaps, you are too busy with the sacred books to pay any attention to such literature. You should never boast of what your friends think of you. That is true testimony which comes from the lips of foes. On the contrary, if a friend speaks in your behalf he will be considered not as a witness but a judge or a partisan. This is the sort of thing your enemies will say, who perhaps give no credit to you, and only wish to vex you. But I, whom you say you have never willingly injured, yet whose name you are always bound to bandy about in your letters, advise you either to openly proclaim the faith of the Church, or to speak as you believe. For that cautious mincing and weighing of words may, no doubt, deceive the unlearned; but a careful hearer and reader will quickly detect the snare, and will show in open daylight the subterranean mines by which truth is overthrown. The Arians (no one knows more about them than you) for a long time pretended that they condemned the Homoousion on account of the offense it gave, and they besmeared poisonous error with honeyed words. But at last the snake uncoiled itself, and its deadly head, which lay concealed under all its folds, was pierced by the sword of the Spirit. The Church, as you know, welcomes penitents, and is so overwhelmed by the multitude of sinners that it is forced, in the interests of the misguided flocks, to be lenient to the wounds of the shepherds. Ancient and modern heresy observes the same rule — the people hear one thing, the priests preach another.
4. And first, before I translate and insert in this book the letter which you wrote to Bishop Theophilus, and show you that I understand your excessive care and circumspection, I should like a word of expostulation with you. What is the meaning of this towering arrogance which makes you refuse to reply to those who question you respecting the faith? How is it that you regard almost as public enemies the vast multitude of brethren, and the bands of monks, who refuse to communicate with you in Palestine? The Son of God, for the sake of one sick sheep, leaving the ninety and nine on the mountains, endured the buffeting, the cross, the scourge; He took up the burden, and patiently carried on His shoulders to heaven the voluptuous woman that was a sinner. Is it for you to act the
most reverend father in God, the fastidious prelate; to stand apart in your wealth and wisdom, in your grandeur and your learning; to frown superciliously upon your fellow servants, and scarce vouchsafe a glance to those who have been redeemed with the blood of your Lord? Is this what you have learned from the Apostles' precept to be 1 Peter 3:15
ready always to give answer to every man that asks you a reason concerning the hope that is in you? Suppose we do, as you pretend, seek occasion, and that, under the pretext of zeal for the faith, we are sowing strife, framing a schism, and fomenting quarrels. Then take away the occasion from those who wish for an occasion; so that having given satisfaction on the point of faith, and solved all the difficulties in which you are involved, you may show clearly to all that the dispute is not one of doctrine, but of order. But perhaps when questioned concerning the faith, you say that it is from wise forethought that you hold your tongue, so that it may not be said that you have proved yourself a heretic— in as much as you make satisfaction to your accusers. If that be so, then men ought not to refute any charges of which they are accused, lest, having denied them, they may be held to be guilty. The accusations of the laity, deacons, and presbyters, are, I suppose, beneath your notice. For you can, as you are perpetually boasting, make a thousand clerics in an hour. But you have to answer Epiphanius, our father in God, who, in the letters which he sent, openly calls you a heretic. Certainly you are not his superior in respect of years, of learning, of his exemplary life, or of the judgment of the whole world. If it is a question of age, you are a young man writing to an old one. If it is one of knowledge, you are a person not so very accomplished writing to a learned man, although your partisans maintain that you are a more finished speaker than Demosthenes, more sharp-witted than Chrysippus, wiser than Plato, and perhaps have persuaded you that they are right. As regards his life and devotion to the faith, I will say no more, that I may not seem to be seeking to wound you. At the time when the whole East (except our fathers in God Athanasius and Paulinus) was overrun by the Arian and Eunomian heresies; when you did not hold communion with the Westerns; then, in the very worst of the exile which made them confessors, he, though a simple convent priest, gained the ear of Eutychius, and afterwards as bishop of Cyprus was unmolested by Valens. For he was always so highly venerated that heretics on the throne thought it would redound to their own disgrace if they persecuted such a man. Write therefore to him. Answer his letter. So let the rest understand your purpose and judge of your eloquence and wisdom; do not keep all your accomplishments to yourself. Why, when you are challenged in one quarter, do you turn your arms towards another? A question is put to you in Palestine, your answer is given in Egypt. When some are blear-eyed, you anoint the eyes of others who are not affected. If you tell another what is meant to give us satisfaction, such action springs entirely from pride; if you tell him what we do not ask for, it is entirely uncalled for.
5. But you say
the bishop of Alexandria approved of my letter. What did he approve of? Your correct utterances against Arius, Photinus, and Manichæus. For who, at this time of day, accuses you of being an Arian? Who now fastens on you the guilt of Photinus and Manichæus? Those faults were long ago corrected, those enemies were shattered. You were not so foolish as to openly defend a heresy which you knew was offensive to the whole Church. You knew that if you had done this, you must have been immediately removed, and your heart was upon the pleasures of your episcopal throne. You so tuned your expressions as to neither displease the simple, nor offend your own incontestably marked by deceit and slipperiness; what, then, are we to do with the remaining five, with regard to which, because no opportunity was afforded for ambiguity, supporters. You wrote well, but nothing to the purpose. How was the bishop of Alexandria to know of what you were accused, or what things they were of which a confession was demanded from you? You ought to have set forth in detail the charges brought against you, and then have met them one by one. There is an old story which tells how a certain man, who, when he was speaking fluently, was carried along by a torrent of words, without touching the question before the court, and thus drew the wise remark from the judge,
Excellent! excellent! But to what purpose is all this excellence? Quacks have but one lotion for all affections of the eyes. He who is accused of many things, and in dissipating the charges passes over some, confesses all that he omits to mention. Did you not reply to the letter of Epiphanius, and yourself choose the points for refutation? No doubt, in replying, you rested on the axiom, that no man is so brave as to put the sword to his own throat. Choose which alternative you like. You shall have your choice: you either replied to the letter of Epiphanius, or you did not. If you did reply, why did you take no notice of the most important, and the most numerous, of the charges brought against you? If you did not reply, what becomes of your
Apology, of which you boast among the simple, and which you are scattering broadcast among those who do not understand the matter?
6. The questions for you to answer were arranged, as I shall presently show, under eight heads. You touch only three, and pass on. As regards the rest, you maintain a magnificent silence. If you had with perfect frankness replied to seven, I should still cling to the charge which remained; and what you said nothing about, that I should hold to be the truth. But as things are, you have caught the wolf by the ears; you can neither hold fast, nor dare let go. With a sort of careless security and an air of abstraction, you skim over and touch the surface of three in which there is nothing or but little of importance. And your procedure is so dark and close that you confess more by your silence than you rebut by your arguments. Every one has the right immediately to say to you, Matthew 6:23
If the light that is in you be darkness, how great is the darkness. Even in answering three little questions, respecting which you seemed to say something, you are not clear from suspicion and from blame, but your replies are and you were therefore unable to cheat your hearers, you preferred to maintain unbroken silence rather than openly confess what had been covered in obscurity?
7. The questions relate to the passages in the Περὶ Αρχῶν . The first is this,
for as it is unfitting to say that the Son can see the Father, so neither is it meet to think that the Holy Spirit can see the Son. The second point is the statement that souls are tied up in the body as in a prison; and that before man was made in Paradise they dwelt among rational creatures in the heavens. Wherefore, afterwards to console itself, the soul says in the Psalms,
Before I was humbled, I went wrong; and
Return, my soul, to your rest; and devil and demons will some time or other repent, and ultimately reign with the saints. Fourthly, he interprets the coats of skin, with which Adam and Eve were clothed after their fall and ejection from Paradise, to be human bodies, and we are to suppose of course that previously, in Paradise, they had neither flesh, sinews, nor bones. Fifthly, he most openly denies the resurrection of the flesh and the bodily structure, and the distinction of senses, both in his explanation of the first Psalm, and in many other of his treatises. Sixthly, he so allegorises Paradise as to destroy historical truth, understanding angels instead of trees, heavenly virtues instead of rivers, and he overthrows all that is contained in the history of Paradise by his figurative interpretation. Seventhly, he thinks that the waters which are said in Scripture to be above the heavens are holy and supernal essences, while those which are above the earth and beneath the earth are, on the contrary, demoniacal essences. The eighth is Origen's cavil that the image and likeness of God, in which man was created, was lost, and was no longer in man after he was expelled from Paradise.
8. These are the arrows with which you are pierced; these the weapons with which throughout the whole letter you are wounded; or I should rather say Epiphanius throws himself as a suppliant at your knees, and casts his hoary locks beneath your feet, and, for a time laying aside his episcopal dignity, prays for your salvation in words such as these:
Grant to me and to yourself the favour of your salvation; save yourself, as it is written, from this crooked generation, Acts 2:40 and forsake the heresy of Origen, and all heresies, dearly beloved. And lower down,
In the defense of heresy you kindle hatred against me, and destroy that love which I had towards you; insomuch that you would make us even repent of holding communion with you who so resolutely defend the errors and doctrines of Origen. Tell me, prince of arguers, to which, out of the eight sections, you have replied. For the present, I say nothing of the rest. Take the first blasphemy— that the Son cannot see the Father, nor the Holy Spirit the Son. By what weapons of yours has it been pierced? The answer we get is,
We believe that the Holy and Adorable Trinity are of the same substance; that they are co-eternal, and of the same glory and Godhead, and we anathematize those who say that there is any greatness, smallness, inequality, or anything that is visible in the Godhead of the Trinity. But as we say the Father is incorporeal, invisible, and eternal; so we say the Son and Holy Spirit are incorporeal, invisible, and eternal. If you did not say this, you would not hold to the Church. I do not ask whether there was not a time when you refused to say this. I will not discuss the question, whether you were fond of those who preached such doctrines; on whose side you were when, for expressing those sentiments, they underwent banishment; or who the man was that, when the presbyter Theo preached in the Church that the Holy Spirit is God, closed his ears, and excitedly rushed out of doors that he might not so much as hear the impiety. I recognize a man, as one may say, as one of the faithful, even though his repentance comes late. That unhappy man Prætextatus, who died after he had been chosen consul, a profane person and an idolater, was wont in sport to say to blessed Pope Damascus,
Make me bishop of Rome, and I will at once be a Christian. Why do you, with many words and intricate periods, take the trouble to show me that you are not an Arian? Either deny that the accused said what is imputed to him, or, if he did give utterance to such sentiments, condemn him for so speaking. You have still to learn how intense is the zeal of the orthodox. Listen to the Apostle: Galatians 1:8
If I or an angel from heaven bring you another gospel than that we have declared, let him be anathema. You would extenuate the fault and hide the name of the guilty party: as though everything were right and no one were accused of blasphemy, you frame, in artificial language, an uncalled-for profession of your faith. Speak out at once, and let your letter thus begin:
Let him be accursed who has dared to write such things. Pure faith is impatient of delay. As soon as the scorpion appears, he must be crushed under foot. David, who was proved to be a man after God's own heart, says:
Do not I hate those that hate you, O Lord, and did not I pine away over your enemies? I hated them with a perfect hatred. Had I heard my father, or mother, or brother say such things against my Master Christ, I would have broken their blasphemous jaws like those of a mad dog, and my hand should have been among the first lifted up against them. They who said to father and mother, Deuteronomy 33:9
We know you not, these men fulfilled the will of the Lord. Matthew 10:37 He that loves father or mother more than Christ, is not worthy of Him.
9. It is alleged that your master, whom you call a Catholic, and whom you resolutely defend, said,
the Son sees not the Father, and the Holy Spirit sees not the Son. And you tell me that the Father is invisible, the Son invisible, the Holy Ghost invisible, as though the angels, both cherubim and seraphim, were not also, in accordance with their nature, invisible to our eyes. David was certainly in doubt even as regards the appearance of the heavens:
I shall see, he says,
the heavens, the works of Your fingers. I shall see, not I see. I shall see when with unveiled face I shall behold the glory of the Lord: but 1 Corinthians 13:9 now we see in part, and we know in part. The question is whether the Son sees the Father, and you say
The Father is invisible. It is disputed whether the Holy Spirit sees the Son, and you answer
The Son is invisible. The point at issue is, whether the Trinity have mutually the vision of one another; human ears cannot endure such blasphemy, and you say the Trinity is invisible. You wander in the realms of praise in all other directions; you spend your eloquence on things which no one wants to hear about. You put your hearer off the scent, to avoid telling us what we ask for. But granted that all this is superfluous. We make you a present of the fact that you are not an Arian; nay, even more, that you never have been. We allow that in the explanation of the first section no suspicion rests upon you, and that all that you said was frank and free from error. We speak to you with equal frankness. Did our father in God, Epiphanius, accuse you of being an Arian? Did he fasten upon you the heresy of Eunomius, the Godless, or that of Aerius? The point of the whole letter is that you follow the erroneous doctrines of Origen, and are associated with others in this heresy. Why, when a question is put to you on one point, do you give an answer about another; and, as if you were speaking to fools, hide the charges contained in the letters, and tell us what you said in the church in the presence of Epiphanius? A confession of faith is demanded of you, and you inflict upon us your very eloquent dissertations. I beseech my readers to remember the judgment seat of the Lord, and as you know that you must be judged for the judgment you give, favour neither me nor my opponent, and consider not the persons of the arguers, but the case itself. Let us then continue what we began.
10. You write in your letter that, before Paulinianus was made a presbyter, the pope Epiphanius never took you to task in connection with Origen's errors. To begin with, this is doubtful, and I have to consider which of the two men I should believe. He says that he did object, you deny it; he brings forward witnesses, you will not listen to them when they are produced; he even relates that another besides yourself was arraigned by him: you refuse to admit this in the case of either; he sends a letter to you by one of his clergy, and demands an answer: you are silent, dare not open your lips, and, challenged in Palestine, speak at Alexandria. Which of you is to be believed is not for me to say. I suppose that you yourself would not, in the face of so distinguished a man, venture to claim truth for yourself, and impute falsehood to him. But it is possible that each speaks from his own point of view. I will call a witness against you, and that witness is yourself. For if there were no dispute about doctrines, if you had not roused the anger of an old man, if he had given you no reply, what need was there for you, who do not excel in gifts of speech, to discuss in a single sermon in the church the whole circle of doctrine — the Trinity, the assumption of our Lord's body, the cross, hell, the nature of angels, the condition of souls, the Saviour's resurrection and our own, and this as taking place on this earth (topics perhaps omitted in your manuscript) in the presence of the masses, in the presence, too, of a man of such distinction? And to speak with such perfect assurance and to gallop through it all without stopping to draw breath? What shall we say of the ancient writers of the Church, who were scarce able to explain single difficulties in many volumes? What of the vessel of election, the Gospel trumpet, the roaring of our lion, the thunderer of the Gentiles, the river of Christian eloquence, who, when confronted by the Colossians 1:26 mystery concealed from ages and generations, and by Romans 11:33 the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God, rather marvels at it than discusses it? What of Isaiah, who pointed beforehand to the Virgin? That single thing was too much for him, and he says, Isaiah 53:8
Who shall declare his generation? In our age a poor mannikin has been found, who, with one turn of the tongue, and a brilliancy exceeding that of the sun, discourses on all ecclesiastical questions. If no one asked you for the display, and everything was quiet, you were foolish to enter voluntarily upon so hazardous a discussion. If, on the other hand, the object of your speaking was the satisfaction you owed to the faith, it follows that the cause of strife was not the ordination of a priest, who, it is certain, was ordained long after. You have deceived only those who were not on the spot, and your letters flatter the ears of strangers only.
11. We were present (we know the whole case) when the bishop Epiphanius spoke against Origen in your church, and he was the ostensible, you the real object of attack. You and your crew grinned like dogs, drew in your nostrils, scratched your heads, nodded to one another, and talked of the
silly old man. Did you not, in front of the Lord's tomb, send your archdeacon to tell him to cease discussing such matters? What bishop ever gave such a command to one of his own presbyters in the presence of the people? When you were going from the Church of the Resurrection to the Church of the Holy Cross and a crowd of all ages, and both sexes, was flowing to meet him, presenting to him their little ones, kissing his feet, plucking the fringes of his garments, and when he could not stir a step forward, and could hardly stand against the waves of the surging crowd, were not you so tortured by envy as to exclaim against
the vainglorious old man? And you were not ashamed to tell him to his face that his stopping was of set purpose and design. Pray recall that day when the people who had been called together were kept waiting until the seventh hour by the mere hope of hearing Epiphanius, and the subject of the harangue you then delivered. You spoke, forsooth, with indignant rage against the Anthropomorphites, who, with rustic simplicity, think that God has actually the members of which we read in Scripture; and showed by your eyes, hands, and every gesture that you had the old man in view, and wished him to be suspected of that most foolish heresy. When through sheer fatigue, with dry month, head thrown back, and quivering lips, to the satisfaction of the whole people, who had longed for the end, you at last wound up, how did the crazy and
silly old man treat you? He rose to indicate that he would say a few words, and after saluting the assembly with voice and hand proceeded thus:
All that has been said by one who is my brother in the episcopate, but my son in point of years, against the heresy of the Anthropomorphites, has been well and faithfully spoken, and my voice, too, condemns that heresy. But it is fair that, as we condemn this heresy so we should also condemn the perverse doctrines of Origen. You cannot, I think, have forgotten what a burst of laughter, what shouts of applause ensued. This is what you call in your letter his speaking to the people anything he chose, no matter what it might be. He, forsooth, was mad because he contradicted you in your own kingdom.
Anything he chose, no matter what. Either give him praise, or blame. Why, here as well as elsewhere, do you move with so uncertain a step? If what he said was good, why not openly proclaim it? If evil, why not boldly censure it? And yet, let us note with what wisdom, modesty, and humility this pillar of truth and faith, who dares to say that so illustrious a man speaks to the people what he chooses, alludes to himself.
One day I was speaking in his presence; and, taking occasion from some words in the lesson for the day, I expressed, in his hearing and in that of the whole Church, such views respecting the faith and all the doctrines of the Church as by the grace of God I unceasingly teach in the Church, and in my catechetical lectures.
12. What, I ask, is the meaning of this effrontery and bombast? All philosophers and orators attack Gorgias of Leontini for daring openly to pledge himself to answer any question which any person might choose to put to him. If the honour of the priesthood and respect for your title did not restrain me, and if I did not know what the Apostle says,
I knew not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, You shall not speak evil of the ruler of your people, how loudly and indignantly might I complain of what you relate! You, on the contrary, disparage the dignity of your title by the contempt which you throw, both in word and deed, on one who is almost the father of the whole episcopate, and a monument of the sanctity of former days. You say that on a certain day, when something in the lesson for the day stirred you up, you made a discourse in his hearing, and in that of the whole Church, concerning the faith and all the doctrines of the Church. After this we cannot but wonder at the weakness of Demosthenes; for we are told that he spent a long time in elaborating his splendid oration against Æschines. We are quite mistaken in looking up to Tully; for his merit, according to Cornelius Nepos, who was present, was nothing but this, that he delivered his famous defense of the seditious tribune Cornelius, almost word for word as it was published. Behold a Lysias and a Gracchus raised up for us! Or, to name one of more modern days, Quintus Aterius, the man who had all his powers at hand like a stock of ready money, so that he needed some one to tell him when to stop, and of whom Cæsar Augustus said very well,
Our friend Quintus must have the break put on.
13. Is there any man in his right senses who would declare that in a single sermon he had discussed the faith and all the doctrines of the Church? Pray show me what that lesson is which is so seasoned with the whole savour of Scripture that its occurrence in the service induced you to enter the arena and put your wit to the hazard. And if you had not been overwhelmed by the torrent of your eloquence, you might have been convinced that it was impossible for you to speak upon the whole circle of doctrines without any deliberation. But how stands the case? You promise one thing and present another. Our custom is, for the space of forty days, to deliver public lectures to those who are to be baptized on the doctrine of the Holy and Adorable Trinity. If the lesson for the day stimulated you to discuss all doctrines in a single hour, what necessity was there to repeat the instruction of the previous forty days? But if you meant to recapitulate what you had been saying during the whole of Lent, how could one lesson on a certain day
stir you up to speak of all these doctrines? But even here his language is ambiguous; for possibly he took occasion, from the particular lesson, to go over summarily what he was accustomed to deliver in church to the candidates for baptism during the forty days of Lent. For it is eloquence all the same whether few things are said in many words, or many things in few words. There is another permissible meaning, that, as soon as the one lesson gave him the spur, he was fired with such oratorical zeal that for forty days he never ceased speaking. But, then, even the easy-going old man, who was hanging upon his lips, and longing to know what he had never heard before, must have almost fallen from his seat asleep. However, we must put up with it; perhaps this, also, is a case of the simplicity which we know to be his manner.
14. Let us quote the rest, in which, after the labyrinths of his perplexing discussion, he expresses himself by no means ambiguously but openly, and thus concludes his wonderful homilies:
When we had thus spoken in his presence, and when out of the extreme honour which we paid him we invited him to speak after us, he praised our preaching, and said that he marvelled at it, and declared to all that it was the Catholic faith. The extreme honour you paid him is evidenced by the extreme insults offered to him, when through the archdeacon you bade him be silent, and loudly proclaimed that it was the love of praise which made him linger among the crowd. The present is the key to the past. For three whole years from that time he has brooded in silence over the wrongs he suffered, and, spurning all personal strife, has only asked for a more correct expression of your faith. You, with your endless resources, and making a profit out of the religion of the whole world, have been sending those very dignified envoys of yours hither and there, and have been trying to awake the old man out of his sleep that he might answer you. And in truth it was right that as you had conferred such signal honour upon him he should praise your utterances, particularly such as were ex tempore. But as men have a way of sometimes praising what they do not approve, and of nourishing another's folly by meaningless commendation, he not only praised your utterances, but praised and marvelled at them as well; and what is more, to magnify the marvel, he declared to the whole people that they were in harmony with the Catholic faith. Whether he really said all this, we ourselves are witnesses. The fact is, he came to us half dead with dismay at your words, and saying that he had been too precipitate in communicating with you. And further, when he was much entreated by the whole monastery to return to you from Bethlehem, and was unable to resist the entreaties of so many, he did indeed return in the evening, but only to escape again at midnight. His letters to the pope Siricius prove the same thing, and if you read them you will see clearly in what sense he marvelled at your utterances and acknowledged them Catholic. But we are threshing chaff, and have spent many words in refuting gratuitous nonsense and old wives' fables.
15. Let us pass on to the second point. Here, as though there were nothing for his consideration, he vapours, and vents himself unconcernedly, pretending to be asleep, so that he may lull his readers also into slumber. But we were speaking of the other matters pertaining to the faith, that is to say, that all things visible and invisible, the heavenly powers and terrestrial creatures have one and the same creator, even God, that is, the Holy Trinity, as the blessed David says, 'By the word of the Lord were the heavens established, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth'; and the creation of man is a simple proof of the same; for it was God Himself who took slime from the earth, and through the grace of His own inspiration bestowed on it a reasonable soul, and one endowed with free will; not a part of His own nature (as some impiously teach), but His own workmanship. And concerning the holy angels, the belief of Christians similarly follows Holy Scripture, which says of God,
Who makes His angels spirits, and His ministers a flaming fire. Holy Scripture does not allow us to believe that their nature is unchangeable, for it says, Jude 6
And angels which kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation, He has kept in everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judgment of the great day; we know, therefore, that they have changed, and having lost their own dignity and glory have become more like demons. But that the souls of men are caused by the fall of the angels, or by their conversion, we never believed, nor have we so taught (God forbid!), and we confess that the view is at variance with the teaching of the Church.
16. We want to know whether souls, before man was made in paradise, and Adam was fashioned out of the earth, were among reasonable creatures; whether they had their own rank, lived, continued, subsisted; and whether the doctrine of Origen is true, who said that all reasonable creatures, incorporeal and invisible, if they grow remiss, little by little sink to a lower level, and, according to the character of the places to which they descend, take to themselves bodies. (For instance, that they may be at first ethereal, afterward aërial.) And that when they reach the neighbourhood of earth they are invested with grossest bodies, and last of all are tied to human flesh; and that the demons themselves who, of their own choice, together with their leader the devil, have forsaken the service of God, if they begin to amend a little, are clothed with human flesh, so that, when they have undergone a process of repentance after the resurrection, and after passing through the same circuit by which they reached the flesh, they may return to proximity to God, being released even from aërial and ethereal bodies; and that then every knee will bow to God, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, and that God may be all to all. When these are the real questions, why do you pass over the points at issue, and, leaving the arena, fix yourself in the region of remote and utterly irrelevant discussion?
17. You believe that one God made all creatures, visible and invisible. Arius, who says that all things were created through the Son, would also confess this. If you had been accused of holding Marcion's heresy, which introduces two Gods, the one the God of goodness, the other of justice, and asserts that the former is the Creator of things invisible, the latter of things visible, your answer would have been well adapted to satisfy me on a question of that sort. You believe it is the Trinity which creates the universe. Arians and Semi-Arians deny that, blasphemously maintaining that the Holy Spirit is not the Creator, but is Himself created. But who now lays it to your charge that you are an Arian? You say that the souls of men are not a part of the nature of God, as though you were now called a Manichæan by Epiphanius. You protest against those who assert that souls are made out of angels, and say that their nature, in its fall, becomes the substance of humanity. Don't conceal what you know, nor feign a simplicity which you do not possess. Origen never said that souls are made out of angels, since he teaches that the term angels describes an office, not a nature. For in his book Περὶ ᾿Αρχῶν he says that angels, and thrones, and dominions, powers and rulers of the world, and of darkness, and Ephesians 1:21 every name which is named, not only in this world, but in that which is to come, become the souls of those bodies which they have taken on either through their own desire or for the sake of their appointed duties; that the sun also, himself, and the moon, and the company of all the stars, are the souls of what were once reasonable and incorporeal creatures; and that though now subject to vanity, that is to say, to fiery bodies which we, in our ignorance and inexperience, call luminaries of the world, they shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption and brought to the liberty of the glory of the sons of God. Wherefore every creature groans and travails in pain together. And the Apostle laments, saying, Romans 7:24
Wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? This is not the time to controvert this doctrine, which is partly heathen, and partly Platonic. About ten years ago in my
Commentary on Ecclesiastes, and in my explanation of the Epistle to the Ephesians, I think my own views were made clear to thoughtful men.
18. I now beg you, whose eloquence is so exuberant, and who expound the truth concerning all topics in the course of one sermon, to give an answer to your interrogators in concise and clear terms. When God formed man out of slime, and through the grace of His own inspiration gave him a soul, had that soul previously existed and subsisted which was afterwards bestowed by the inspiration of God, and where was it? Or did it gain its capacity both to exist and to live from the power of God, on the sixth day, when the body was formed out of the slime? You are silent regarding this, and pretend you do not know what is wanted, and busy yourself with irrelevant questions. You leave Origen untouched, and rave against the absurdities of Marcion, Apollinaris, Eunomius, Manichæus, and the other heretics. You are asked for a hand and you put out a foot, and all the while covertly insinuate the doctrine to which you hold. You speak smooth things to plain men like us, but in such a way as in no degree to displease those of your own party.
19. You say that demons rather than souls are made out of angels, as though you did not know that, according to Origen, the demons themselves are souls belonging to aërial bodies, and, after being demons, destined to become human souls if they repent. You write that the angels are mutable; and, under cover of a pious opinion, introduce an impiety by maintaining that, after the lapse of many ages, souls are produced not from the angels, but from whatever it was into which the angels were first changed. I wish to make my meaning clearer; suppose a person of the rank of tribune to be degraded through his own misconduct, and to pass through the several steps of the cavalry service until he becomes a private, does he all at once cease to be a tribune and become a recruit? No; but he is first colonel, then, successively, major officer of two hundred, captain, commissary, patrol, trooper, and, lastly, a recruit; and although our tribune eventually becomes a common soldier, still he did not pass from the rank of tribune to that of recruit, but to that of colonel. Origen uses Jacob's ladder to teach that reasonable creatures by slow degrees sink to the lowest step, that is to flesh and blood; and that it is impossible for any one to be suddenly precipitated from number one hundred to number one without reaching the last by passing through the successive numbers, as in descending the rounds of a ladder; and that they change their bodies as often as they change their resting-places in going from heaven to earth. These are the tricks and artifices by which you make us out to be
beasts of burden and
animal men who do
not receive the things pertaining to the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:14 You are the
people of Jerusalem, and can make a mock even of the angels. But your mysteries are being dragged into the light, and your doctrine, which is a mere conglomerate of heathen fables, is publicly exposed in the ears of Christians. What you so much admire we long ago despised when we found it in Plato. And we despised it because we received the foolishness of Christ. And we received the foolishness of Christ because 1 Corinthians 1:25 the weakness of God is wiser than men. And is it not a shame for us, who are Christians and priests of God, to entangle ourselves in words of doubtful meaning, as though we were merely jesting; to keep our phrases balanced between two meanings, in a way which deceives the speaker himself more than his hearers?
20. One of your company, when pressed by me to say what he thought concerning the soul, whether it had existed before the flesh, or not, replied that soul and body had existed together. I knew the man was a heretic, and was seeking to entangle me in my speech. At last I caught him saying that the soul gained that name from the time when it began to animate a body, whereas it was formerly called a demon, or angel of Satan, or spirit of fornication, or, on the other hand, dominion, power, agent of the spirit, or messenger. Well, but if the soul existed before Adam was made in Paradise (in any rank and condition), and lived and acted (for we cannot think that what is incorporeal and eternal is dull and torpid like a dormouse), there must have been some precedent cause to account for the soul, which at first had no body, being afterwards invested with a body. And if it is natural to the soul to be without a body, it must be contrary to nature for it to be in a body. If it is contrary to nature to be in a body, it follows that the resurrection of the body is contrary to nature. But the resurrection will not be contrary to nature; therefore, according to you, the body, which is contrary to nature, when it rises again will be without a soul.
21. You say that the soul is not of the essence of God. Well! This is what we might expect, for you condemn the impious Manichæus, to make mention of whose name is pollution. You say that angels are not turned into souls. I agree to some extent, although I know what meaning you give to the words. But, now that we have learned what you deny, we wish to know what you believe.
Having taken slime of the earth, you say,
God fashioned man, and through the grace of His own inbreathing bestowed upon him a rational soul, and through the grace of free will, not a portion of His own divine nature (as some impiously maintain), but His own handiwork. See how he goes out of his way to be eloquent about what we did not ask for. We know that God fashioned man out of the earth; we are aware that He breathed into his face, and man became a living soul; we are not ignorant that the soul is characterized by reason and free choice, and we know that it is the workmanship of God. No one doubts that Manichæus errs in saying that the soul is the essence of God. I now ask: When was that soul made, which is the work of God, which is distinguished by free will and reason, and is not of the essence of the Creator? Was it made at the same time that man was made out of the slime, and the breath of life was breathed into his face? Or, having previously existed, and having associated with reasonable and incorporeal creatures as well as lived, was it afterwards gifted with the inbreathing of God? Here you are silent; here you feign a rustic simplicity, and make scriptural words a cloak for unscriptural tenets. Where you affirm what no one wants to know, that the soul is not a part of God's own nature (as some impiously maintain), you ought rather to have declared (and this is what we all want to know) that it is not that which previously existed, which He had before created, which had long dwelt among rational, incorporeal, and invisible creatures. You say none of these things; you bring forward Manichæus, and keep Origen out of sight, and, just as when children ask for something to eat their nursemaids put them off with some little joke, so you direct the thoughts of us poor rustics to other matters, so that we may be taken up with the fresh character on the stage, and may not ask for what we want.
22. But suppose the fact to be that you merely omit this, and that your simplicity does not mean something you are shrewd enough to conceal. Having once begun to speak of the soul, and to deduce arguments on such an important topic from man's first creation, why do you leave the discussion in mid-air, and suddenly pass to the angels, and the conditions under which the body of our Lord existed? Why do you pass by such a vast slough of difficulty, and leave us to stick in the mire? If the inbreathing of God (a view for which you have no liking, and a point which you now leave unsettled) is the creating of the human soul; whence had Eve her soul, seeing that God did not breathe into her face? But I will not dwell upon Eve, since she, as a type of the Church, was made out of one of her husband's ribs, and ought not, after so many ages, to be subjected to the calumnies of her descendants. I ask whence Cain and Abel, who were the firstborn of our first parents, had their souls? And the whole human race downwards, what, are we to think, was the origin of their souls? Did they come by propagation, like brute beasts? So that, as body springs from body, so soul from soul. Or is it the case that rational creatures, longing for bodily existence, sink by degrees to earth, and at last are tied even to human bodies? Surely (as the Church teaches in accordance with the Saviour's words, John 5:17
My Father works hitherto and I work; and the passage in Isaiah,
Who makes the spirit of man in him; and in the Psalms,
Who fashions one by one the hearts of them) God is daily making souls— He, with whom to will is to do, and who never ceases to be a Creator. I know what you are accustomed to say in opposition to this, and how you confront us with adultery and incest. But the dispute about these is a tedious one, and would exceed the narrow limits of the time at our disposal. The same argument may be retorted upon you, and whatever seems unworthy in the Creator of the present dispensation is again not unworthy, since it is His gift. Birth from adultery imputes no blame to the child, but to the father. As in the case of seeds, the earth which cherishes does not sin, nor the seed which is thrown into the furrows, nor the heat and moisture, under whose influence the grain bursts into bud, but some man, as for example, the thief and robber, who, by fraud and violence, plucks up the seed: so in the begetting of men, the womb, which corresponds to the earth, receives its own, and nourishes what it has received, and then gives a body to that which it nourishes, and divides into the several members the body it has formed. And among those secret recesses of the belly the hand of God is always working, and there is the same Creator of body and soul. Do not despise the goodness of your Maker, who fashioned you and made you as He chose. He Himself is the virtue of God and the wisdom of God, who, in the womb of the Virgin, built a house for Himself. Jephthah, who is reckoned by the Apostle among the saints, is the son of a harlot. But listen: Esau, born of Rebecca had Isaac, a
hairy man, both in mind and body, like good wheat, degenerates into darnel and wild oats; because the cause of vice and virtue does not lie in the seed, but in the will of him who is born. If it is an offense to be born with a human body, how is it that Isaac, Samson, John Baptist, are the children of promise? You see, I trust, what it is to have the courage of one's convictions. Suppose I am wrong, I openly say what I think. Do you, then, likewise either freely profess our opinions, or firmly maintain your own. Do not set yourself in my line of battle, so that, by feigning simplicity, you may be safe, and may be able, when you choose, to stab your opponent in the back. It is impossible for me, at the present moment, to write a book against the opinions of Origen. If Christ gives us life, we will devote another work to them. The point now is, whether the accused has answered the questions put to him, and whether his reply be clear and open.
23. Let us pass from this to the most notorious point, that relating to the resurrection of the flesh and of the body; and here, my reader, I would admonish you that you may know I speak under a sense of fear and of the judgment of God, and that you ought so to hear. For, if the pure faith is to be found in his exposition, and there is no suspicion of unfaithfulness, I am not so foolish as to seek an occasion of accusing him, and while I wish to censure another for his fault be myself censured as a slanderer. I will ask you, therefore, to read what follows on the resurrection of the flesh; and, having read it, if it satisfies you (I know it is well calculated to please the ignorant), suspend your judgment, wait a while, refrain from expressing an opinion until I have finished my reply; and if after that it satisfies you, then you shall fix on us the brand of slander.
His passion also on the cross, His death and burial, which was the saving of the world, and His resurrection in a true and not an imaginary sense, we confess; and that Colossians 1:18 being the firstborn from the dead, He conveyed to heaven the firstfruits of our bodily substance which, after being laid in the tomb, He raised to life, thus giving us the hope of resurrection in the resurrection of His own body; wherefore we all hope so to rise from the dead, as He rose again; not in any foreign and strange bodies, which are but phantom shapes assumed for the moment; but as He Himself rose again in that body which was laid in the holy sepulchre at our very doors, so we, in the very bodies with which we are now clothed, and in which we are now buried, hope to rise again for the same reason and by the same command. For the bodies which, as the Apostle says, are sown in corruption, shall rise in incorruption; being sown in dishonour, they shall rise in glory. 1 Corinthians 15:44 'It is sown an animal body, it shall rise a spiritual body'; and of them the Saviour said in his teaching: Luke 20:35-36 'For they who shall be worthy of that world, and of the resurrection from the dead, shall neither marry nor be given in marriage, for they can die no more, but shall be as the angels of God, since they are the sons of the resurrection.'
24. Again, in another part of his letter, that is, towards the end of his own homilies, that he might cheat the ear of the ignorant, he makes a grand parade and noise about the Resurrection, but in ambiguous and balanced language. He says:
We have not omitted the second glorious advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall come in His own glory to judge the quick and the dead; for He shall awake all the dead, and cause them to stand before His own judgment-seat; and shall render to every one according to what he has done in the body, whether it be good or bad; for every one shall either be crowned in the body because he lived a pure and righteous life, or be condemned, because he was the slave alike of pleasure and iniquity. What we read in the Gospel, that at the end of the world, Matthew 24:24 if it were possible, even the elect are to be seduced, we see verified in this passage. The ignorant crowd hears of the dead and buried, hears of the resurrection of the dead in a true and not an imaginary sense, hears that the firstfruits of our bodily substance in our Lord's body have reached the heavenly regions, hears that we shall rise again not in foreign and strange bodies, which are mere phantom shapes, but, as our Lord rose in the body which lay among us in the holy sepulchre, so we also in the very bodies with which we are now clothed and buried shall rise again in the day of judgment. And that no one might think this too little, he adds in the last section:
And He shall render to every one according to what he did in the body, whether it were good or bad: for every one shall either be crowned in the body for his pure and righteous life, or shall be condemned, because he was the slave of pleasure and iniquity. Hearing these things the ignorant crowd suspects no artifice, no snares in all this noise about the dead, the burial of the body, and the resurrection. It believes things are as they are said to be. For there is more devotion in the ears of the people than in the priest's heart.
25. Again and again, my reader, I admonish you to be patient, and to learn what I also have learned through patience; and yet, before I take the veil off the dragon's face, and briefly explain Origen's views respecting the resurrection (for you cannot know the efficacy of the antidote unless you see clearly what the poison is), I beg you to read his statements with caution, and to go over them again and again. Mark well that, though he nine times speaks of the resurrection of the body, he has not once introduced the resurrection of the flesh, and you may fairly suspect that he left it out on purpose. Well, Origen says in several places, and especially in his fourth book
Of the Resurrection, and in the
Exposition of the First Psalm, and in the
Miscellanies, that there is a double error common in the Church, in which both we and the heretics are implicated:
We, in our simplicity and fondness for the flesh, say that the same bones, and blood, and flesh, in a word, limbs and features, and the whole bodily structure, rise again at the last day: so that, forsooth, we shall walk with our feet, work with our hands, see with our eyes, hear with our ears, and carry about with us a belly never satisfied, and a stomach which digests our food. Consequently, believing this, we say that we must eat, drink, perform the offices of nature, marry wives, beget children. For what is the use of organs of generation, if there is to be no marriage? For what purpose are teeth, if the food is not to be masticated? What is the good of a belly and of meats, if, according to the Apostle, both it and they are to be destroyed? And the same Apostle again exclaims, 1 Corinthians 15:58 'Flesh and blood shall not inherit the Kingdom of God, nor shall corruption inherit incorruption.' This, according to him, is what we in our rustic innocence maintain. But as for the heretics, among whom are Marcion, Apelles, Valentinus, Manes (a synonym for Mania), he says that they utterly deny the resurrection of the flesh and of the body, and allow salvation only to the soul, and hold that it is futile for us to say that we shall rise after the pattern of our Lord, since our Lord also Himself rose again in a phantom body, and not only His resurrection, but His very nativity was docetic or imaginary; that is, more apparent than real. Origen himself is dissatisfied with both opinions. He says that he shuns both errors, that of the flesh, which our party maintain, and that of the phantoms, maintained by the heretics, because both sides go to the opposite extremes, some wishing to be the same that they have been, others denying altogether the resurrection of the body.
There are four elements, he says,
known to philosophers and physicians: earth, water, air, and fire, and out of these all things and human bodies are compacted. We find earth in flesh, air in the breath, water in the moisture of the body, fire in its heat. When, then, the soul, at the command of God, lets go this perishing and feeble body, little by little all things return to their parent substances: flesh is again absorbed into the earth, the breath is mingled with the air, the moisture returns to the depths, the heat escapes to the ether. And as if you throw into the sea a pint of milk and wine, and wish again to separate what is mixed together, although the wine and milk which you threw in is not lost, and yet it is impossible to keep separate what was poured out; so the substance of flesh and blood does not perish, indeed, so far as concerns the original matter, yet they cannot again become the former structure, nor can they be altogether the same that they were. Observe that when such things are said, the firmness of the flesh, the fluidity of the blood, the density of the sinews, the interlacing of the veins, and the hardness of the bones is denied.
For another reason, he says,
we confess the resurrection of our bodies, those which have been laid in the grave and have turned to dust; Paul's body will be that of Paul, Peter's that of Peter, and each will have his own; for it is not right that souls should sin in one body and be tormented in another, nor is it worthy of the Righteous Judge that one body should shed its blood for Christ and another be crowned. Who, hearing this, would think he denied the resurrection of the flesh?
And, he says,
every seed has its own law of being inherent in it by the gift of God, the Creator, which law contains in embryonic form the future growth. The bulky tree, with its trunk, boughs, fruit, leaves, is not seen in the seed, but nevertheless exists in the seed by implication or, according to the Greek expression, by the spermatikos logos. There is within the grain of grain a marrow, or vein, which, when it has been dissolved in the earth, attracts to itself the surrounding materials, and rises again in the shape of stalk, leaves, and ear; and thus, while it is one thing when it dies, it is another thing when it rises from the dead; for in the grain of wheat, roots, stalk, leaves, ears, trunk are as yet unseparated. In the same manner, in human bodies, according to the law of their being, certain original principles remain which ensure their resurrection, and a sort of marrow, that is a seed-plot of the dead, is fostered in the bosom of the earth. But when the day of judgment shall have come, and at the voice of the archangel, and the sound of the last trumpet, the earth shall totter, immediately the seeds will be instinct with life, and in a moment of time will cause the dead to burst into life; yet the flesh which they will reconstitute will not be the same flesh, nor will it be in the old forms. To give you the assurance that we speak the truth, let me quote the words of the Apostle: 1 Corinthians 15:35, 37 'But some one says, How shall the dead rise? And with what body will they come? You fool, that which you sow, you sow not that body which shall be, but a bare grain, it may be of wheat, or the seed of a vine and a tree.' And as we have already made the grain of wheat, and to some extent the planting of trees, the subject of our reasoning, let us now take the grape-stone as an example. It is a mere granule, so small that you can scarcely hold it between your two fingers. Where are the roots? Where the tortuous interlacing of roots, of trunk and off-shoots? Where the shade of the leaves, and the lovely clusters teeming with coming wine? What you have in your fingers is parched and scarcely discernible; nevertheless, in that dry granule, by the power of God and the secret law of propagation, the foaming new wine must have its origin. You will allow all this in the case of a tree; will you not admit such things to be possible in the case of a man? The plant which perishes is thus decked with beauty; why should we think that man, who abides, will receive back his former meanness? Do you demand that there should be flesh, bones, blood, limbs, so that you must have the barber to cut your hair, that your nose may run, your nails must be trimmed, your lower parts may gender filth or minister to lust? If you introduce these foolish and gross notions, you forget what is told us of the flesh, namely, that in it we cannot please God, and that it is an enemy; you forget, also, what is told us of the resurrection of the dead: 1 Corinthians 15:42, 44 'It is sown in corruption, it shall rise in incorruption. It is sown in dishonour, it shall rise in glory. It is sown in weakness, it shall rise in power. It is sown a natural body, it shall rise a spiritual body.' Now we see with our eyes, hear with our ears, act with our hands, walk with our feet. But in that spiritual body we shall be all sight, all hearing, all action, all movement. The Lord shall transfigure Philippians 3:21 the body of our humiliation and fashion it according to His own glorious body. In saying transfigure he affirms identity with the members which we now have. But a different body, spiritual and ethereal, is promised to us, which is neither tangible, nor perceptible to the eye, nor ponderable; and the change it undergoes will be suitable to the difference in its future abode. Otherwise, if there is to be the same flesh and if our bodies are to be the same, there will again be males and females, there will again be marriage; men will have the shaggy eyebrow and the flowing beard; women will have their smooth cheeks and narrow chests, and their bodies must adapt themselves to conception and parturition. Even tiny infants will rise again; old men will also rise; the former to be nursed, the latter to be supported by the staff. And, simple ones, be not deceived by the resurrection of our Lord, because He showed His side and His hands, stood on the shore, went for a walk with Cleophas, and said that He had flesh and bones. That body, because it was not born of the seed of man and the pleasure of the flesh, has its peculiar prerogatives. He ate and drank after His resurrection, and appeared in clothing, and allowed Himself to be touched, that He might make His doubting Apostles believe in His resurrection. But still He does not fail to manifest the nature of an aërial and spiritual body. For He enters when the doors are shut, and in the breaking of bread vanishes out of sight. Does it follow then that after our resurrection we shall eat and drink, and perform the offices of nature? If so, what becomes of the promise, 1 Corinthians 15:53 'The mortal must put on immortality.'
27. Here we have the complete explanation of the fact that in your exposition of the faith, to deceive the ears of the ignorant, you nine times make mention of the body, and not even once of the flesh, and all the while men think that you confess the body of flesh, and that the flesh is identical with the body. If it is the same as the body, it means nothing different. I say this, for I know your answer:
I thought the body was the same as the flesh; I spoke with all simplicity. Why do you not rather call it flesh to signify the body, and speak indifferently at one time of the flesh, at another of the body, that the body may be shown to consist of flesh, and the flesh to be the body. But believe me, your silence is not the silence of simplicity. For flesh is defined one way, the body another; all flesh is body, but not every body is flesh. Flesh is properly what is comprised in blood, veins, bones, and sinews. Although the body is also called flesh, yet sometimes it is designated ethereal or aërial, because it is not subject to touch and sight; and yet it is frequently both visible and tangible. A wall is a body, but is not flesh; a stone is a body, but it is not said to be flesh. Wherefore the Apostle calls some bodies celestial, some terrestrial. A celestial body is that of the sun, moon, stars; a terrestrial body is that of fire, air, water, and the rest, which bodies being inanimate are known as consisting of material elements. You see we understand your subtleties, and publish abroad the mysteries which you utter in the bedchamber and among the perfect, mysteries which may not reach the ears of outsiders. You smile, and with hand uplifted and a snap of the fingers retort,
All the glory of the king's daughter is within. And, Song of Songs 1:4
The king led me into his bedchamber. It is clear why you spoke of the resurrection of the body and not of that of the flesh; of course it was that we in our ignorance might think that when body was spoken of flesh was meant; while yet the perfect would understand that, when body was spoken of, flesh was denied. Lastly, the Apostle, in his Epistle to the Colossians, wishing to show that the body of Christ was made of flesh, and was not spiritual, aërial, attenuated, said significantly, Colossians 1:21-22
And you, when you were some time alienated from Christ and enemies of His spirit in evil works, He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death. And again in the same Epistle: Colossians 2:11
In whom you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands in the putting off of the body of the flesh. If by body is meant flesh only, and the word is not ambiguous, nor capable of diverse significations, it was quite superfluous to use both expressions — bodily and of flesh— as though body did not imply flesh.
28. In the symbol of our faith and hope, which was delivered by the Apostles, and is not written with paper and ink, but on fleshy tables of the heart, after the confession of the Trinity and the unity of the Church, the whole symbol of Christian dogma concludes with the resurrection of the flesh. You dwell so exclusively upon the subject of the body, harping upon it in your discourse, repeating first the body, and secondly the body, and again the body, and nine times over the body, that you do not even once name the flesh; whereas they always speak of the flesh, but say nothing of the body. I would have you know that we see through what you craftily add, and with wise precaution seek to conceal. For you make use of the same passages to prove the reality of the resurrection by means of which Origen denies it; you support questionable positions with doubtful arguments, and thus raise a storm which in a moment overthrows the settled fabric of faith. You quote the words,
It is sown an animal body: it shall rise a spiritual body.
For they shall neither marry, nor be given in marriage, but shall be as the angels in heaven. What other instances would you take if you were denying the resurrection? You intend to confess the resurrection of the flesh, you say, in a real and not an imaginary sense. After the remarks with which you smooth things over to the ears of the ignorant, to the effect that we rise again with the very bodies with which we died and were buried, why do you not go on and speak thus:
The Lord after His resurrection showed the prints of the nails in His hands, pointed to the wound of the spear in His side, and when the Apostles doubted because they thought they saw a phantom, gave them reply, Luke 24:39 'Handle Me and see, for a spirit has not flesh and blood as you see Me have'; and specially to Thomas, John 20:27 'Put your finger into My hands, and your hand into My side, and be not faithless, but believing.' Similarly after the resurrection we shall have the same members which we now use, the same flesh and blood and bones, for it is not the nature of these which is condemned in Holy Scripture, but their works. Then again, it is written in Genesis: Genesis 6:3 'My Spirit shall not abide in those men, because they are flesh.' And the Apostle Paul, speaking of the corrupt doctrine and works of the Jews, says: Galatians 1:16 'I rested not in flesh and blood.' And to the Saints, who, of course, were in the flesh, he says: Romans 8:9 'But you are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if the Spirit of God dwells in you.' For by denying that they were in the flesh who clearly were in the flesh, he condemned not the substance of the flesh but its sins.
29. The true confession of the resurrection declares that the flesh will be glorious, but without destroying its reality. And when the Apostle says, 1 Corinthians 15:53
This is corruptible and mortal, his words denote this very body, that is to say, the flesh which was then seen. But when he adds that it puts on incorruption and immortality, he does not say that that which is put on, that is the clothing, does away with the body which it adorns in glory, but that it makes that body glorious, which before lacked glory; so that the more worthless robe of mortality and weakness being laid aside, we may be clothed with the gold of immortality, and, so to speak, with the blessedness of strength as well as virtue; since we wish not to be stripped of the flesh, but to put on over it the vesture of glory, and desire to be clothed upon with our house, which is from heaven, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Certainly, no one is clothed upon who was not previously clothed. Accordingly, our Lord was not so transfigured on the mountain that He lost His hands and feet and other members, and suddenly began to roll along in a round shape like that of the sun or a ball; but the same members glowed with the brightness of the sun and blinded the eyes of the Apostles. Hence, also, His garments were changed, but so as to become white and glistening, not aërial, for I suppose you do not intend to maintain that His clothes also were spiritual. Matthew 17:2 The Evangelist adds that His face shone like the sun; but when mention is made of His face, I reckon that His other members were beheld as well. Enoch was translated in the flesh; Elias was carried up to heaven in the flesh. They are not dead, they are inhabitants of Paradise, and even there retain the members with which they were rapt away and translated. What we aim at in fasting, they have through fellowship with God. They feed on heavenly bread, and are satisfied with every word of God, having Him as their food who is also their Lord. Listen to the Saviour saying:
And my flesh rests in hope. And elsewhere, Acts 2:31
His flesh saw not corruption. And again, Isaiah 40:5
30. Listen to those words of thunder which fall from Job, the vanquisher of torments, who, as he scrapes away the filth of his decaying flesh with a potsherd, solaces his miseries with the hope and the reality of the resurrection:
Oh, that, he says,
my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book with an iron pen, and on a sheet of lead, that they were graven in the rock for ever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the last day I shall rise from the earth, and again be clothed with my skin, and in my flesh shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. This my hope is laid up in my bosom. What can be clearer than this prophecy? No one since the days of Christ speaks so openly concerning the resurrection as he did before Christ. He wishes his words to last for ever; and that they might never be obliterated by age, he would have them inscribed on a sheet of lead, and graven on the rock. He hopes for a resurrection; nay, rather he knew and saw that Christ, his Redeemer, was alive, and at the last day would rise again from the earth. The Lord had not yet died, and the athlete of the Church saw his Redeemer rising from the grave. When he says,
And I shall again be clothed with my skin, and in my flesh see God, I suppose he does not speak as if he loved his flesh, for it was decaying and putrifying before his eyes; but in the confidence of rising again, and through the consolation of the future, he makes light of his present misery. Again he says:
I shall be clothed with my skin. What mention do we find here of an ethereal body? What of an aërial body, like to breath and wind? Where there is skin and flesh, where there are bones and sinews, and blood and veins, there assuredly is fleshy tissue and distinction of sex.
And in my flesh, he says,
I shall see God. When all flesh shall see the salvation of God, and Jesus as God, then I, also, shall see the Redeemer and Saviour, and my God. But I shall see him in that flesh which now tortures me, which now melts away for pain. Therefore, in my flesh shall I behold God, because by His own resurrection He has healed all my infirmities. Does it not seem to you that Job was then writing against Origen, and was holding a controversy similar to ours against the heretics, for the reality of the flesh in which he underwent tortures? For he could not bear to think that all his sufferings would be in vain; while the flesh he actually bore was tortured as flesh indeed, it would be some other and spiritual kind of flesh that would rise again. Wherefore he presses home and emphasizes the truth, and puts a stop to all that might lie hidden in an artful confession, by speaking out plainly:
Whom I shall see for myself and my eyes shall behold and not another. If he is not to rise again in his own sex, if he is not to have the same members which were then lying on the dunghill, if he does not open the same eyes to see God with which he was then looking at the worms, where will Job then be? You do away with what constituted Job, and give me the hollow phrase, Job shall rise again; it is as if you were to order a ship to be restored after shipwreck, and then were to refuse each particular thing of which a ship is made.
31. I will speak freely, and although you screw your mouths, pull your hair, stamp your feet, and take up stones like the Jews, I will openly confess the faith of the Church. The reality of a resurrection without flesh and bones, without blood and members, is unintelligible. Where there are flesh and bones, where there are blood and members, there must of necessity be diversity of sex. Where there is diversity of sex, there John is John, Mary is Mary. You need not fear the marriage of those who, even before death, lived in their own sex without discharging the functions of sex. When it is said,
In that day they shall neither marry, nor be given in marriage, the words refer to those who can marry, and yet will not do so. For no one says of the angels,
They shall not marry, nor be given in marriage. I never heard of a marriage being celebrated among the spiritual virtues in heaven: but where there is sex, there you have man and woman. Hence it is that, although you were reluctant, you were compelled by the truth to confess that,
A man must either be crowned in the body because he lived a pure and upright life, or be condemned in the body, because he was the slave of pleasure and iniquity. Substitute flesh for body, and you have not denied the existence of male and female. Who can have any glory from a life of chastity if we have no sex which would make unchastity possible? Who ever crowned a stone for continuing a virgin? Likeness to the angels is promised us, that is, the blessedness of their angelic existence without flesh and sex will be bestowed on us in our flesh and with our sex. I am simple enough so to believe, and so know how to confess that sex can exist without the functions of the senses; that it is thus that men rise, and that it is thus that they are made equal to the angels. Nor will the resurrection of the members all at once seem superfluous, because they are to have no office, since, while we are still in this life, we strive not to perform the works of the members. Moreover, likeness to the angels does not imply a changing of men into angels, but their growth in immortality and glory.
32. But as for the arguments drawn from boys, and infants, and old men, and meats, and excrements, which you employ against the Church, they are not your own; they flow from a heathen source. For the heathen mock us with the same. You say you are a Christian; lay aside the weapons of the heathen. It is for them to learn from you to confess the resurrection of the dead, not for you to learn from them to deny it. Or if you belong to the enemy's camp, show yourself openly as an adversary, that you may share the wounds we inflict on the heathen. I will allow you your jest about the necessity of nursemaids to stop the infants from crying; of the decrepit old men, who, you fear, would be shrivelled with winter's cold. I will admit also that the barbers have learned their craft for nothing, for do we not know that the people of Israel for forty years experienced no growth of either nails or hair; and, still more, their clothes were not worn out, nor did their shoes wax old? Enoch and Elias, concerning whom we spoke a while ago, abide all this time in the same state in which they were carried away. They have teeth, belly, organs of generation, and yet have no need of meats, or wives. Why do you slander the power of God, who can from that marrow and seed-plot of which you speak, not only produce flesh from flesh, but also make one body from another; and change water, that is worthless flesh, into the precious wine of an aërial body? The same power by which He created all things out of nothing can give back what has existed, because it is a much smaller thing to restore what has been, than to make what never was. Do you wonder that there is a resurrection from the condition of infancy and old age to that of mature manhood, seeing that a perfect man was made out of the slime of the earth without having gone through successive stages of growth? A rib is changed into a woman; and by the third mode of creating man, the poor elements of our birth which put us to the blush are changed into flesh, bound together by the members, run into veins, harden into bones. There is a fourth sort of human generation of which I can tell you.
The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you. Wherefore that Luke 1:35 holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God. Adam was created one way, Eve another, Abel another, the man Jesus Christ another. And yet, different as are all these beginnings, the nature of man remains one and the same.
33. If I wished to prove the resurrection of the flesh and of all the members, and to give the meaning of the several passages, many books would be required; but the matter in hand does not call for this. For I purposed not to reply to Origen in every detail, but to disclose the mysteries of your insincere
Apology. I have, however, tarried long in maintaining the opposite to your position, and am afraid that, in my eagerness to expose fraud, I may leave a stumbling-block in the way of the reader. I will, therefore, mass together the evidence, and glance at the proofs in passing, so that we may bring all the weight of Scripture to bear upon your poisonous argument. He who has not a wedding garment, and has not kept that command, Ecclesiastes 9:8
Let your garments be always white, is bound hand and foot that he may not recline at the banquet, or sit on a throne, or stand at the right hand of God; Matthew 22:13 he is sent to Gehenna, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Luke 12:7
The hairs of your head are numbered. If the hairs, I suppose the teeth would be more easily numbered. But there is no object in numbering them if they are some day to perish.
The hour will come in which all who are in the tombs shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and shall come forth. They shall hear with ears, come forth with feet. This Lazarus had already done. They shall, moreover, come forth from the tombs; that is, they who had been laid in the tombs, the dead, shall come, and shall rise again from their graves. For the dew which God gives is healing to their bones. Then shall be fulfilled what God says by the prophet, Isaiah 26:20
Go, my people, into your closets for a little while, until mine anger pass. The closets signify the graves, out of which that, of course, is brought forth which had been laid therein. And they shall come out of the graves like young mules free from the halter. Their heart shall rejoice, and their bones shall rise like the sun; all flesh shall come into the presence of the Lord, and He shall command the fishes of the sea; and they shall give up the bones which they had eaten; and He shall bring joint to joint, and bone to bone; and Daniel 12:2 they who slept in the dust of the earth shall arise, some to life eternal, others to shame and everlasting confusion. Then shall the just see the punishment and tortures of the wicked, for Isaiah 66:24 their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be extinguished, and they shall be beheld by all flesh. As many of us, therefore, as have this hope, as we have yielded our members servants to uncleanness, and to iniquity unto iniquity, so let us yield them servants to righteousness unto holiness, that Romans 6:4 we may rise from the dead and walk in newness of life. As also the life of the Lord Jesus is manifested in our mortal body, so Romans 8:11 also He who raised up Jesus Christ from the dead shall quicken our mortal bodies on account of His Spirit Who dwells in us. For it is right that as we have always borne about the putting to death of Christ in our body, so the life, also, of Jesus, should be manifested in our mortal body, that is, in our flesh, which is mortal according to nature, but eternal according to grace. Stephen also saw Jesus standing on the right hand of the Father, and the Exodus 4:6 hand of Moses became snowy white, and was afterwards restored to its original color. There was still a hand, though the two states were different. The potter in Jeremiah, whose vessel, which he had made, was broken through the roughness of the stone, restored from the same lump and from the same clay that which had fallen to pieces; and, if we look at the word resurrection itself, it does not mean that one thing is destroyed, another raised up; and the addition of the word dead, points to our own flesh, for that which in man dies, that is also brought to life. Luke 10:34 The wounded man on the road to Jericho is taken to the inn with all his limbs complete, and the stripes of his offenses are healed with immortality.
34. Even the graves were opened Matthew 27:52 at our Lord's passion when the sun fled, the earth trembled, and many of the bodies of the saints arose, and were seen in the holy city.
Who is this, says Isaiah,
that comes up from Edom, with shining raiment from Bozrah, so beautiful in his glistening robe? Edom is by interpretation either earthy or bloody; Bosor either flesh, or in tribulation. In few words he shows the whole mystery of the resurrection, that is, both the reality of the flesh and the growth in glory. And the meaning is: Who is he that comes up from the earth, comes up from blood? According to the Genesis 49:11 prophecy of Jacob, He has bound His foal to the vine, and has trodden the wine-press alone, and His garments are red with new wine from Bosor, that is from flesh, or from the tribulation of the world: for He Himself John 16:33 has conquered the world. And, therefore, His garments are red and shining, because He is beauteous in form more than the sons of men, and on account of the glory of His triumph they have been changed into a white robe; and then, in truth, as concerns Christ's flesh, were fulfilled the words, Song of Songs 8:5
Who is this that comes up all in white, leaning upon her beloved? And that which is written in the same book: Song of Songs 5:10
My beloved is white and ruddy. These men are his true followers who have not Revelation 14:4 defiled their garments with women, for they have continued virgins, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. And so they shall be in white clothing. Then shall the saying of our Lord appear perfectly realised: John 6:39
All that my Father has given me, I shall not lose anything thereof, but I will raise it up again at the last day; the whole of His humanity, forsooth, which He had taken upon Him in its entirety at His birth. Then shall the sheep which was lost, and was wandering in the lower world, be carried whole on the Saviour's shoulders, and the sheep which was sick with sin shall be supported by the mercy of the Judge. Then shall they see him who pierced Him, who shouted, John 19:6
Crucify Him, crucify Him. Again and again shall they beat their breasts, they and their women, those women to whom our Lord said, as He carried His cross, Luke 23:28
You daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me but weep for yourselves, and for your children. Then shall be fulfilled the prophecy of the angels, who said to the stupefied Apostles, Acts 1:11
You men of Galilee, why stand ye looking with astonishment into heaven? This Jesus who is taken from you into heaven, shall come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven. But what are we to think of a man saying that our Lord ate with the Apostles for forty days after His resurrection in order that they might not think Him to be a phantom, and then asserting that it was a phantom which did this very thing, which ate and which was seen by many in the flesh. That which was seen is either real, or false. If it is real, it follows that He really ate, and really had members. But if it is false, how could He be willing to give false impressions in order to prove the truth of His resurrection? For no one proves what is true by means of what is false. You will say, are we then going to eat after our resurrection? I know not. Scripture does not tell us; and yet, if the question be asked, I do not think we shall eat. For I have read that the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, while it promises 1 Corinthians 2:9 such things as eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man. Moses fasted forty days and forty nights. Human nature does not allow of this, but what is impossible with men is not impossible with God. Just as, in foretelling the future, it matters not whether a person announces what will take place after ten years or after a hundred, since the knowledge of futurity is all one; so he who can fast for forty days and yet live — not, indeed, that he can of himself fast, but that he lives by the power of God — will also be able to live for ever without food and drink. Why did our Lord eat an honeycomb? To prove the resurrection: not to give your palate the pleasure of tasting of honey. He asked for a fish broiled on the coals that He might John 21:9 confirm the doubting Apostles, who did not dare approach Him because they thought they saw not a body, but a spirit. Mark v The daughter of the ruler of the synagogue was raised to life and took food. John 12 Lazarus, who had been four days dead, rose again, and comes before us at a dinner; not because he was accustomed to eat in the lower world, but because a case which presented such difficulties challenged the believer's criticism. As He showed them real hands and a real side, so He really ate with His disciples; really walked with Cleophas; conversed with men with a real tongue; really reclined at supper; with real hands took bread, blessed and broke it, and was offering it to them. And as for His suddenly vanishing out of their sight, that is the power of God, not of a shadowy phantom. Besides, even before His resurrection, when they had led Him out from Nazareth that they might cast Him down headlong from the brow of the hill, He passed through the midst of them, that is, escaped out of their hands. Can we follow Marcion, and say that because, when He was held fast, He escaped in a manner contrary to nature, therefore His birth must have been only apparent? Has not the Lord a privilege which is conceded to magicians? It is related of Apollonius of Tyana that, when standing in court before Domitian, he all at once disappeared. Do not put the power of the Lord on a level with the tricks of magicians, so that He may appear to have been what He was not, and may be thought to have eaten without teeth, walked without feet, broken bread without hands, spoken without a tongue, and showed a side which had no ribs.
35. And how was it, you will say, that they did not recognize Him on the road if He had the same body which He had before? Let me recall what Scripture says: Luke 24:16
Their eyes were holden, that they might not know Him. And again,
Their eyes were opened, and they knew Him. Was He one person when He was not known, and another when He was known? He was surely one and the same. Whether, therefore, they knew Him, or not, depended on their sight; it did not depend upon Him Who was seen; and yet it did depend on Him in this sense, that He held their eyes that they might not know Him. Lastly, that you may see that the mistake which held them was not to be attributed to the Lord's body, but to the fact that their eyes were closed, we are told: John xx
Their eyes were opened, and they knew Him. Wherefore, also, Mary Magdalene so long as she did not recognize Jesus, and sought the living among the dead, thought He was the gardener. Afterwards she recognized Him and then she called Him Lord. After His resurrection Jesus was standing on the shore, His disciples were in the ship. When the others did not know Him, the disciple whom Jesus loved John 21:7 said to Peter,
It is the Lord. For virginity is the first to recognize a virgin body. He was the same, yet was not seen alike by all as the same. And immediately it is added,
And no one dared ask Him, Who are You? For they knew that He was the Lord. No one dared, because they knew that He was God. They ate with Him at dinner because they saw He was a man and had flesh; not that He was one person as God, another as man: but, being one and the same Son of God, He was known as man, adored as God. I suppose I must now air my philosophy, and say that our senses are not to be relied on, and especially sight. A Carneades must be awaked from the dead to tell us the truth— that an oar seems broken in the water, porticos afar off look more magnificent, the angles of towers seem rounded in the distance, that the backs of pigeons change their colors with every movement. When Rhoda Acts 12 announced Peter, and told the Apostles, they did not believe that he had escaped, on account of the greatness of the danger, but suspected it was a phantom. Moreover, in passing through closed doors, He exhibited the same power as in vanishing out of sight. Lynceus, as fable relates, used to see through a wall. Could not the Lord enter when the doors were shut, unless He were a phantom? Eagles and vultures perceive dead bodies across the sea. Shall not the Saviour see His Apostles without opening the door? Tell me, sharpest of disputants, which is greater, to hang the vast weight of the earth on nothing, and to balance it on the changing surface of the waves; or that God should pass through a closed door, and the creature yield to the Creator? You allow the greater; you object to the less. Peter Matthew 14:28 walked upon the waters with his heavy and solid body. The soft water does not yield: his faith doubts a little, and immediately his body understands its own nature; that we may know that it was not his body that walked on the water, but his faith.
36. I pray you, who use such elaborate arguments against the resurrection, let us have some simple talk together. Do you believe that our Lord really rose again in the same body in which He died and was buried, or do you not believe it? If you believe it, why do you make propositions which lead to the denial of the resurrection? If you do not believe, you who thus try to deceive the minds of the ignorant, and parade the word resurrection, though you mean nothing by it, listen to me. Not long ago, a certain disciple of Marcion said:
Woe to him who rises again with this flesh and these bones! Our heart at once with joy replied, Romans 6:4
We are buried together, and we shall rise together with Christ through baptism.
Do you speak of the resurrection of the soul, or of the flesh? I answered,
Not that of the soul alone, but that of the flesh, which, together with the soul, is born again in the laver. And how shall that perish which has been born again in Christ?
Because it is written, said he, 1 Corinthians 15:50
'Flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God.'
I intreat you to mind what is said — 'Flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God.'
It is said that they shall not rise again.
Not at all, but only 'they shall not inherit the kingdom.'
'Because,' it follows, Ib 'neither shall corruption inherit incorruption.' So long then as they remain mere flesh and blood, they shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But when the corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and the mortal shall have put on immortality, and the clay of the flesh shall have been made into a vessel, then that flesh which was formerly kept down by a heavy weight upon the earth, when once it has received the wings of the spirit — wings which imply its change, not its destruction — shall fly with fresh glory to heaven; and then shall be fulfilled that which is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your boasting? O death, where is your sting?'
37. Reversing the order, we have given our answer respecting the state of souls and the resurrection of the flesh; and, leaving out the opening portions of the letter, we have confined ourselves to the refutation of this most remarkable treatise. For we preferred to speak of the things of God rather than of our own wrongs. 1 Samuel 2:25
If one man sin against another, they shall pray for him to the Lord. But if he sin against God, who shall pray for him? In these days, on the contrary, we make it our first business to pursue with undying hate those who have injured us — to those who blaspheme God we indulgently hold out the hand. John writes to Bishop Theophilus an apology, of which the introduction runs thus:
You, indeed, as a man of God, adorned with apostolic grace, have upon you the care of all the Churches, especially of that which is at Jerusalem, though you yourself are distracted with countless anxieties for the Church of God, which is under you. This is barefaced adulation, and an attempt to concentrate authority in the hands of an individual. You, who ask for ecclesiastical rules, and make use of the canons of the Council of Nicæa, and claim authority over clerics who belong to another diocese and are actually living with their own bishop, answer my question, What has Palestine to do with the bishop of Alexandria? Unless I am deceived, it is decreed in those canons that Cæsarea is the metropolis of Palestine, and Antioch of the whole of the East. You ought therefore either to appeal to the bishop of Cæsarea, with whom you know that we have communion while we disdain to communicate with you, or, if judgment were to be sought at a distance, letters ought rather to be addressed to Antioch. But I know why you were unwilling to send to Cæsarea, or to Antioch. You knew what to flee from, what to avoid. You preferred to assail with your complaints ears that were preoccupied rather than pay due honour to your metropolitan. And I do not say this because I have anything to blame in the mission itself, except certain partialities which beget suspicion, but because you ought rather to clear yourself in the actual presence of your questioners. You begin with the words,
You have sent a most devoted servant of God, the presbyter Isidore, a man of influence no less from the dignity of his very gait and dress than from that of his divine understanding, to heal those whose souls are grievously sick; would that they had any sense of their illness! A man of God sends a man of God. No difference is made between a priest and a bishop; the same dignity belongs to the sender and the sent; this is lame enough; the ship, as the saying goes, is wrecked in harbour. That Isidore, whom you extol to the sky by your praises, lies under the same imputation of heresy at Alexandria as you at Jerusalem; wherefore he appears to have come to you not as an envoy, but as a confederate. Besides, the letters in his own handwriting, which, three months before the sending of the embassy, had been sent to us through an error in the address, were delivered to the presbyter Vincentius, and to this day they are in his keeping. In these letters the writer encourages the leader of his army to plant his foot firmly upon the rock of the faith, and not to be terrified by our Jeremiads. He promises, before we had any suspicion of his mission, that he will come to Jerusalem, and that on his arrival the ranks of his adversaries will be instantly crushed. And among the rest he uses these words:
38. I ask you, my reader, what does a man, who writes these things before he comes, appear to you to be? An adversary, or an envoy? This is the man whom we may, indeed, call most pious, or most religious, and, to give the exact equivalent of the word, one devoted to the worship of God. This is the man of divine understanding, so influential, and of such dignity in gait and dress, that, like a spiritual Hippocrates, he is able by his presence to relieve the sickness of our souls, provided, however, we are willing to submit to his treatment. If such is his medicine, let him heal himself, since he is accustomed to heal others. To us, that divine understanding of his is folly for the sake of Christ. We willingly remain in the sickness of our simplicity, rather than, by using your eye-salve, learn an impious abuse of sight. Next come the words:
39. Your letter goes on to relate that
though he had come hither and had had three separate interviews with us, and had applied to the matter the healing language no less of your divine wisdom than of his own understanding, he found that he could be of no use to any one, nor could any one be of use to him. The fact is that he who is said to have had
three separate interviews with us, so that in his coming he might maintain the mystic number, and who talked to us about the command issued by Bishop Theophilus, did not choose to deliver the letters sent to us by him. And when we said: If you are an envoy, produce your credentials; if you have no letters, how can you prove to us that you are an envoy? He replied that he had, indeed, letters to us but he had been adjured by the bishop of Jerusalem not to give them to us. You see here the true envoy consistent with his proper character; you see how impartial he shows himself to both sides, that he may make peace, and exclude the suspicion of favouring either party. At all events, he had come without a plaster, and had not the physician's instruments at his command, and therefore his medicine was of no avail.
Jerome and those associated with him, you continue,
both secretly, and in the presence of all, again and again and with the attestation of an oath, satisfied him that they never had any doubts of our orthodoxy, saying: We have now just the same feeling toward him, as regards matters of faith, that we had when we used to communicate with him. See what dogmatic agreement can do. Isidore, in order that he might make such a report as this, is taken into close fellowship, and is spoken of as a man of God, and a most devout priest, a man of influence, of holy and venerable gait, and of divine understanding, the Hippocrates of the Christians. I, a poor wretch, hiding away in solitude, suddenly cut off by this mighty pontiff, have lost the name of priest. This
Jerome, then, with his ragged herd and shabby following, did he dare to give any answer to Isidore and his thunderbolts? Of course not; and doubtless for no other motive than fear that the envoy would never yield, and might overwhelm them by his presence and gigantic stature.
Not once, nor thrice, but again and again they swore that they knew the individual in question to be orthodox, and that they had never suspected him of heresy. What undisguised and shameless lying! A witness borne by a man to himself! Such witness as is not believed even in the mouth of a Cato, for in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. Was there ever a word said, or a message sent to you, to the effect that, without being satisfied as to your orthodoxy, we would endure communion with you? When, through the instrumentality of the Count Archelaus, a most accomplished as well as a most Christian man, who tried to negotiate a peace between us, a place had been appointed where we were to meet, was not one of the first things postulated that the faith should form the basis of future agreement? He promised to come. Easter was approaching; a great multitude of monks had assembled; you were expected at the appointed place; what to do you did not know. All at once you sent word that some one or other was sick, you could not come that day. Is it a stage-player or a bishop who thus speaks? Suppose what you said was true, to suit the pleasure of one feeble woman who fears that she may have a headache, or may feel sick, or haste a pain in the stomach, while you are away, do you neglect the interests of the Church? Do you despise so many men, Christians and monks assembled together? We were unwilling to give occasion for breaking off the negotiation; we saw through the artifice of your procrastination, and sought to overcome the wrong you did us by patience. Archelaus wrote again, advising him that he was staying on for two days, in case he should be willing to come. But he was busy; his dear little woman had not ceased to vomit, he could not bestow a thought upon us until she should have escaped from her nausea. Well, after two months, at last the long-looked for Isidore arrived, and what he heard from us was not as you pretend, a testimony in your behalf, but the reason why we demanded satisfaction. For when he raised the point,
Why, if he were a heretic, did you communicate with him? he was answered by us all that we communicated without any suspicion of his heresy; but that, after he had been summoned by the Most Reverend Epiphanius, both by word and by letter, and had disdained to answer, documents were addressed to the monks by Epiphanius himself, to the effect that, unless he gave satisfaction respecting the faith, no one should rashly communicate with him. The letters are in our hands; there can be no doubt about the matter. This, then, was the reply made by the whole body of the brethren: not, as you maintain, that you were not an heretic, because at a former time you were not said to be one. For upon that showing, a man must be said not to be sick, because previous to his sickness he was in good health.
40. To proceed with the letter.
But when the ordination of Paulinianus, and the others associated with him, was brought forward, they began to feel that they themselves were in the wrong. For the sake of charity and concord every concession was made to them, and the only point insisted on was that, though they had been ordained contrary to the rules, yet they should be subject to the authority of the Church of God, that they should not rend it, and set up an authority of their own. But they, not agreeing to this, began to raise questions concerning the faith; and thus they made it evident to all that if the presbyter Jerome and his friends were not accused, they had no charge to bring against us, but that they only betook themselves to doctrinal questions because, when charges of error and misconduct were brought against them, they were utterly unable to reply to us on matters of that sort, or to give any satisfactory explanation of their wrong-doing: not that they had any hope that we could be convicted of heresy, but they were striving to injure our reputation.
41. No one must blame the translator for this verbiage: the Greek is the same. Meanwhile I rejoice that whereas I thought I was beheaded I find my presbyterial head on my shoulders again. He says that we are utterly incapable of conviction, and he draws back from the encounter. If the cause of discord is not due to discussions about the faith, but springs from the ordination of Paulinianus, is it not the extreme of folly to give occasion to those who seek occasion by refusing to answer? Confess the faith; but do it so as to answer the question put to you, that it may be clear to all that the dispute is not one of faith, but of order. For so long as you are silent when questioned concerning the faith, your adversary has a right to say to you:
The matter is not one of order but of faith. If it is a question of order, you act foolishly in saying nothing when questioned concerning the faith. If it is one of faith, it is foolish of you to make a pretext of the question of order. Moreover, when you say your aim was that they might be subject to the Church, that they might not rend it, nor set up an authority of their own; who they are of whom you speak I do not well understand. If you are speaking of me and the presbyter Vincentius, you have been asleep long enough, if you only wake up now, after thirteen years, to say these things. For the reason why I forsook Antioch and he Constantinople, both famous cities, was, not that we might praise your popular eloquence, but that, in the country and in solitude, we might weep over the sins of our youth, and draw down upon us the mercy of Christ. But if Paulinianus is the subject of your remarks, he, as you see, is subject to his bishop, and lives at Cyprus: he sometimes comes to visit us, not as one of your clergy, but as another's, his, namely, by whom he was ordained. But if he wished even to stay here, and to live a quiet, solitary life sharing our exile, what does he owe you except the respect which we owe to all bishops? Suppose that he had been ordained by you; he would only tell you the same that I, a poor wretch of a man, told Bishop Paulinus of blessed memory.
Did I ask to be ordained by you? I said.
If in bestowing the rank of presbyter you do not strip us of the monastic state, you can bestow or withhold ordination as you think best. But if your intention in giving the name presbyter was to take from me that for which I forsook the world, I must still claim to be what I always was; you have suffered no loss by ordaining me.
That they might not rend the Church, he says,
and set up an authority of their own. Who rends the Church? Do we, who as a complete household at Bethlehem communicate in the Church? Or is it you, who either being orthodox refuse through pride to speak concerning the faith, or else being heterodox are the real render of the Church? Do we rend the Church, who, a few months ago, about the day of Pentecost, when the sun was darkened and all the world dreaded the immediate coming of the Judge, presented forty candidates of different ages and sexes to your presbyter for baptism? There were certainly five presbyters in the monastery who had the right to baptize; but they were unwilling to do anything to move you to anger, for fear you might make this a pretext for reticence concerning the faith. Is it not you, on the contrary, who rend the Church, you who commanded your presbyters at Bethlehem not to give baptism to our candidates at Easter, so that we sent them to Diospolis to the Confessor and Bishop Dionysius for baptism? Are we said to rend the Church, who, outside our cells, hold no position in the Church? Or do not you rather rend the Church, who issue an order to your clergy that if any one says Paulinianus was consecrated presbyter by Epiphanius, he is to be forbidden to enter the Church. Ever since that time to this day we can only look from without on the cave of the Saviour, and, while heretics enter, we stand afar off and sigh.
43. Are we schismatics? Is not he the schismatic who refuses a habitation to the living, a grave to the dead, and demands the exile of his brethren? Who was it that set at our throats, with special fury, that wild beast who constantly menaced the throats of the whole world? Who is it that permits the rain to beat upon the bones of the saints, and their harmless ashes, up to the present hour? These are the endearments with which the good shepherd invites us to reconciliation, and at the same time accuses us of setting up an authority of our own — us who are united in communion and charity with all the bishops, so long, at least, as they are orthodox. Do you yourself constitute the Church, and is whosoever offends you shut out from Christ? If we defend our own authority — prove that we have a bishop in your diocese. The reason that we have not had communion with you is the question of faith; answer our questions, and it will become one of order.
They, you go on,
also take advantage of other letters which they say Epiphanius wrote to them. But he, too shall give account for all his doings before the judgment seat of Christ, where great and small shall be judged without respect of persons. Still, how can they rely on his letter which he wrote only because we took him to task on the matter of the unlawful ordination of Paulinianus and his associates; as in the opening of that very letter he intimates? What, I ask, is the meaning of this blindness? How is it that he is immersed, as the saying goes, in Cimmerian darkness? He says that we make a pretext, and that we have no letters from Epiphanius against him, and he immediately adds,
How can they rely on his letter, which he only wrote because he was taken to task by us, in the matter of the unlawful ordination of Paulinianus and his associates; as in the opening of that very letter he intimates? We have no such letter! And what letter then is that, which in its opening sentence speaks of Paulinianus? There is something in the body of the letter of which you are afraid to make mention. Well! He was taken to task, you say, by you because of the age of Paulinianus. But you yourself ordain a man presbyter, and send him out as an envoy and a colleague. You have the boldness falsely to call Paulinianus a boy, and then to send out your own boy presbyter. You likewise take Theoseca, a deacon of the church of Thiria, and make him presbyter, and put weapons into his hands against us, and make a misuse of his eloquence for our injury. You alone are at liberty to trample on the rights of the Church; whatever you do, is the standard of teaching; and you do not blush to challenge Epiphanius to stand with you before the judgment seat of Christ. The sequel of this passage is to the following effect: he throws it in the teeth of Epiphanius that he was the partner of his table and an inmate of his house, and declares that they never had any talk together concerning the views of Origen, and he supports what he says with the attestation of an oath, saying: bishop of perjury. There are several letters of Epiphanius in our possession. One to John himself, others to the bishops of Palestine, and one of recent date to the pontiff of Rome; and in these he speaks of himself as impugning his views in the presence of many, and says that he was not thought worthy of a reply,
and the whole Monastery, he says,
is witness to what we in our insignificance assert.
Source. Translated by W.H. Fremantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3004.htm>.
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