On The Resurrection Of The Flesh by Tertullian
Chapter LIX.--Our Flesh in the Resurrection Capable, Without Losing Its Essential Identity, of Bearing the Changed Conditions of Eternal Life, or of Death Eternal.
But, you object, the world to come bears the character of a different dispensation, even an eternal one; and therefore, you maintain, that the non-eternal substance of this life is incapable of possessing a state of such different features. This would be true enough, if man were made for the future dispensation, and not the dispensation for man. The apostle, however, in his epistle says, |Whether it be the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours:| and he here constitutes us heirs even of the future world. Isaiah gives you no help when he says, |All flesh is grass;| and in another passage, |All flesh shall see the salvation of God.| It is the issues of men, not their substances, which he distinguishes. But who does not hold that the judgment of God consists in the twofold sentence, of salvation and of punishment? Therefore it is that |all flesh is grass,| which is destined to the fire; and |all flesh shall see the salvation of God,| which is ordained to eternal life. For myself, I am quite sure that it is in no other flesh than my own that I have committed adultery, nor in any other flesh am I striving after continence. If there be any one who bears about in his person two instruments of lasciviousness, he has it in his power, to be sure, to mow down |the grass| of the unclean flesh, and to reserve for himself only that which shall see the salvation of God. But when the same prophet represents to us even nations sometimes estimated as |the small dust of the balance,| and as |less than nothing, and vanity,| and sometimes as about to hope and |trust in the name| and arm of the Lord, are we at all misled respecting the Gentile nations by the diversity of statement? Are some of them to turn believers, and are others accounted dust, from any difference of nature? Nay, rather Christ has shone as the true light on the nations within the ocean's limits, and from the heaven which is over us all. Why, it is even on this earth that the Valentinians have gone to school for their errors; and there will be no difference of condition, as respects their body and soul, between the nations which believe and those which do not believe. Precisely, then, as He has put a distinction of state, not of nature, amongst the same nations, so also has He discriminated their flesh, which is one and the same substance in those nations, not according to their material structure, but according to the recompense of their merit.