« Prev From the Discourse on the Resurrection. Next »

Part III.

I. From the Discourse on the Resurrection.28942894    From Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 234.

I. Read the Book on the Resurrection by St. Methodius, Bishop and Martyr, of which that which follows is a selection, that the body is not the fetter of the soul, as Origen thought, nor are souls called by the prophet Jeremiah “fettered” on account of their being within bodies. For he lays down the principle that the body does not hinder the energies of the soul, but that rather the body is carried about with it, and cooperates in whatever the soul commits to it. But how are we to understand the opinion of Gregory28952895    Gregory, surnamed Theologus, commonly known as Gregory Nazianzen. the theologian, and many others?

II. That Origen said that the body was given to the soul as a fetter after the fall, and that previously it lived without a body; but that this body which we wear is the cause of our sins; wherefore also he called it a fetter, as it can hinder the soul from good works.

III. That if the body was given to the soul after the fall as a fetter, it must have been given as a fetter upon the evil or the good. Now it is impossible that it should be upon the good; for no physician or artificer gives to that which has gone wrong a remedy to cause further error, much less would God do so. It remains, then, that it was a fetter upon evil. But surely we see that, at the beginning, Cain, clad in this body, committed murder; and it is evident into 370what wickedness those who succeeded him ran. The body is not, then, a fetter upon evil, nor indeed a fetter at all; nor was the soul clothed in it for the first time after the fall.

IV. That man, with respect to his nature, is most truly said to be neither soul without body, nor, on the other hand, body without soul; but a being composed out of the union of soul and body into one form of the beautiful. But Origen said that the soul alone is man, as did Plato.

V. That there is a difference between man and other living creatures; and to them are given varieties of natural form and shape, as many as the tangible and visible forces of nature produced at the command of God; while to him was given the form and image of God, with every part accurately finished, after the very original likeness of the Father and the only-begotten Son. Now we must consider how the saint states this.

VI. He says that Phidias the statuary, after he had made the Pisæan image of ivory, ordered oil to be poured out before it, that, as far as he could secure it, it might be preserved imperishable.

VII. He says, as was said also by Athenagoras,28962896    [Athenagoras, Plea, cap. xxiv. vol. ii. p. 142, this series.] that the devil is a spirit, made by God, in the neighbourhood of matter, as of course the rest of the angels are, and that he was entrusted with the oversight of matter, and the forms of matter. For, according to the original constitution of angels, they were made by God, in His providence, for the care of the universe; in order that, while God exercises a perfect and general supervision over the whole, and keeps the supreme authority and power over all—for upon Him their existence depends—the angels appointed for this purpose take charge of particulars. Now the rest of them remained in the positions for which God made and appointed them; but the devil was insolent, and having conceived envy of us, behaved wickedly in the charge committed to him; as also did those who subsequently were enamoured of fleshly charms, and had illicit intercourse with the daughters of men.28972897    [Athenagoras, Plea, cap. xxiv. vol. ii. p. 142, this series.] For to them also, as was the case with men, God granted the possession of their own choice. And how is this to be taken?

VIII. He says that by the coats of skins is signified death. For he says of Adam, that when the Almighty God saw that by treachery he, an immortal being, had become evil, just as his deceiver the devil was, He prepared the coats of skins on this account; that when he was thus, as it were, clothed in mortality, all that was evil in him might die in the dissolution of the body.

IX. He holds that St. Paul had two revelations. For the apostle, he says, does not suppose paradise to be in the third heaven, in the opinion of those who knew how to observe the niceties of language, when he says, “I know such a man caught up to the third heaven; and I know such a man, whether in the body or out of the body, God knoweth, that was caught up into paradise.”28982898    2 Cor. xii. 2, 3. Here he signifies that he has seen two revelations, having been evidently taken up twice, once to the third heaven, and once into paradise. For the words, “I know such a man caught up,” make it certain that he was personally shown a revelation respecting the third heaven. And the words which follow, “And I know such a man, whether in the body or out of the body, God knoweth, that he was caught up into paradise,” show that another revelation was made to him respecting paradise. Now he was led to make this statement by his opponent’s having laid it down from the apostle’s words that paradise is a mere conception, as it is above the heaven, in order to draw the conclusion that life in paradise is incorporeal.28992899    [Gregory’s opponent, not St. Paul’s.]

X. He says that it is in our power to do, or to avoid doing, evil; since otherwise we should not be punished for doing evil, nor be rewarded for doing well; but the presence or absence of evil thoughts does not depend upon ourselves. Wherefore even the sainted Paul says, “For what I would, that do I not, but what I would not, that I do;”29002900    Rom. vii. 15. that is to say, “My thoughts are not what I would, but what I would not.” Now he says that the habit of imagining evil is rooted out by the approach of physical death,29012901    [Gregory says.]—since it was for this reason that death was appointed by God for the sinner, that evil might not remain for ever.

But what is the meaning of this statement? It is to be noted that it has been made by others of our Fathers as well. What is the meaning, seeing that those who meet death find in it at the time neither increase nor decrease of sins?

« Prev From the Discourse on the Resurrection. Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection