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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Chapter XII.--The Eternal Home in Heaven Beautiful Exposition by Tertullian of the Apostle's Consolatory Teaching Against the Fear of Death, So Apt to Arise Under Anti-Christian Oppression. The Judgment-Seat of Christ--The Idea, Anti-Marcionite. Paradise.

The Five Books Against Marcion by Tertullian

Chapter XII.--The Eternal Home in Heaven Beautiful Exposition by Tertullian of the Apostle's Consolatory Teaching Against the Fear of Death, So Apt to Arise Under Anti-Christian Oppression. The Judgment-Seat of Christ--The Idea, Anti-Marcionite. Paradise.

As to the house of this our earthly dwelling-place, when he says that |we have an eternal home in heaven, not made with hands,| he by no means would imply that, because it was built by the Creator's hand, it must perish in a perpetual dissolution after death. He treats of this subject in order to offer consolation against the fear of death and the dread of this very dissolution, as is even more manifest from what follows, when he adds, that |in this tabernacle of our earthly body we do groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with the vesture which is from heaven, if so be, that having been unclothed, we shall not be found naked;| in other words, shall regain that of which we have been divested, even our body. And again he says: |We that are in this tabernacle do groan, not as if we were oppressed with an unwillingness to be unclothed, but (we wish) to be clothed upon.| He here says expressly, what he touched but lightly in his first epistle, where he wrote:) |The dead shall be raised incorruptible (meaning those who had undergone mortality), |and we shall be changed| (whom God shall find to be yet in the flesh). Both those shall be raised incorruptible, because they shall regain their body -- and that a renewed one, from which shall come their incorruptibility; and these also shall, in the crisis of the last moment, and from their instantaneous death, whilst encountering the oppressions of anti-christ, undergo a change, obtaining therein not so much a divestiture of body as |a clothing upon| with the vesture which is from heaven. So that whilst these shall put on over their (changed) body this, heavenly raiment, the dead also shall for their part recover their body, over which they too have a supervesture to put on, even the incorruption of heaven; because of these it was that he said: |This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.| The one put on this (heavenly) apparel, when they recover their bodies; the others put it on as a supervesture, when they indeed hardly lose them (in the suddenness of their change). It was accordingly not without good reason that he described them as |not wishing indeed to be unclothed,| but (rather as wanting) |to be clothed upon;| in other words, as wishing not to undergo death, but to be surprised into life, |that this moral (body) might be swallowed up of life,| by being rescued from death in the supervesture of its changed state. This is why he shows us how much better it is for us not to be sorry, if we should be surprised by death, and tells us that we even hold of God |the earnest of His Spirit| (pledged as it were thereby to have |the clothing upon,| which is the object of our hope), and that |so long as we are in the flesh, we are absent from the Lord;| moreover, that we ought on this account to prefer |rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord,| and so to be ready to meet even death with joy. In this view it is that he informs us how |we must all appear before the judgement-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according as he hath done either good or bad.| Since, however, there is then to be a retribution according to men's merits, how will any be able to reckon with God? But by mentioning both the judgment-seat and the distinction between works good and bad, he sets before us a Judge who is to award both sentences, and has thereby affirmed that all will have to be present at the tribunal in their bodies. For it will be impossible to pass sentence except on the body, for what has been done in the body. God would be unjust, if any one were not punished or else rewarded in that very condition, wherein the merit was itself achieved. |If therefore any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new;| and so is accomplished the prophecy of Isaiah. When also he (in a later passage) enjoins us |to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and blood| (since this substance enters not the kingdom of God ); when, again, he |espouses the church as a chaste virgin to Christ,| a spouse to a spouse in very deed, an image cannot be combined and compared with what is opposed to the real nature of the thing (with which it is compared). So when he designates |false apostles, deceitful workers transforming themselves| into likenesses of himself, of course by their hypocrisy, he charges them with the guilt of disorderly conversation, rather than of false doctrine. The contrariety, therefore, was one of conduct, not of gods. If |Satan himself, too, is transformed into an angel of light,| such an assertion must not be used to the prejudice of the Creator. The Creator is not an angel, but God. Into a god of light, and not an angel of light, must Satan then have been said to be transformed, if he did not mean to call him |the angel,| which both we and Marcion know him to be. On Paradise is the title of a treatise of ours, in which is discussed all that the subject admits of. I shall here simply wonder, in connection with this matter, whether a god who has no dispensation of any kind on earth could possibly have a paradise to call his own -- without perchance availing himself of the paradise of the Creator, to use it as he does His world -- much in the character of a mendicant. And yet of the removal of a man from earth to heaven we have an instance afforded us by the Creator in Elijah. But what will excite my surprise still more is the case (next supposed by Marcion), that a God so good and gracious, and so averse to blows and cruelty, should have suborned the angel Satan -- not his own either, but the Creator's -- |to buffet| the apostle, and then to have refused his request, when thrice entreated to liberate him! It would seem, therefore, that Marcion's god imitates the Creator's conduct, who is an enemy to the proud, even |putting down the mighty from their seats.| Is he then the same God as He who gave Satan power over the person of Job that his |strength might be made perfect in weakness?| How is it that the censurer of the Galatians still retains the very formula of the law: |In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established?| How again is it that he threatens sinners |that he will not spare| them -- he, the preacher of a most gentle god? Yea, he even declares that |the Lord hath given to him the power of using sharpness in their presence!| Deny now, O heretic, (at your cost,) that your god is an object to be feared, when his apostle was for making himself so formidable!
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