Monday, December 22, 2008

Certain Metaphorical Terms Explained of the Resurrection of the Flesh.

We have also in the Scriptures robes mentioned as allegorizing the hope of the flesh. Thus in the Revelation of John it is said:  “These are they which have not defiled their clothes with women,”   Rev. iii. 4 and xiv.  —indicating, of course, virgins, and such as have become “eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.”    Matt. xix. 12. Therefore they shall be “clothed in white raiment,”  Rev. iii. 5. that is, in the bright beauty of the unwedded flesh. In the gospel even, “the wedding garment” may be regarded as the sanctity of the flesh.    Matt. xxii. 11, 12. And so, when Isaiah tells us what sort of “fast the Lord hath chosen,” and subjoins a statement about the reward of good works, he says: “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy garments,    There is a curious change of the word here made by Tertullian, who reads ἱμάτια instead of ἰάματα, “thy health,” or “healings,” which is the word in the Sept. shall speedily arise;”    Isa. lviii. 8. where he has no thought of cloaks or stuff gowns, but means the rising of the flesh, which he declared the resurrection of, after its fall in death. Thus we are furnished even with an allegorical defence of the resurrection of the body. When, then, we read, “Go, my people, enter into your closets for a little season, until my anger pass away,”   Isa. xxvi. 20. we have in the closets graves, in which they will have to rest for a little while, who shall have at the end of the world departed this life in the last furious onset of the power of Antichrist.  Why else did He use the expression closets, in preference to some other receptacle, if it were not that the flesh is kept in these closets or cellars salted and reserved for use, to be drawn out thence on a suitable occasion? It is on a like principle that embalmed corpses are set aside for burial in mausoleums and sepulchres, in order that they may be removed therefrom when the Master shall order it. Since, therefore, there is consistency in thus understanding the passage (for what refuge of little closets could possibly shelter us from the wrath of God?), it appears that by the very phrase which he uses, “Until His anger pass away,”    Isa. xxvi. 20. which shall extinguish Antichrist, he in fact shows that after that indignation the flesh will come forth from the sepulchre, in which it had been deposited previous to the bursting out of the anger. Now out of the closets nothing else is brought than that which had been put into them, and after the extirpation of Antichrist shall be busily transacted the great process of the resurrection.

Tertullian, On the Resurrection of the flesh, Chapter XXVII.