[TRANSLATED BY PETER HOLMES, D.D.]
CHAP. I.--IT IS NOT TO THE PHILOSOPHERS THAT WE RESORT FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE SOUL BUT TO GOD.(2)
HAVING discussed with Hermogenes the single point of the origin of the soul, so far as his assumption led me, that the soul consisted rather in an adaptation(3) of matter than of the inspiration(4) of God, I now turn to the other questions incidental to the subject; and (in my treatment of these) I shall evidently have mostly to contend with the philosophers. In the very prison of Socrates they skirmished about the state of the soul. I have my doubts at once whether the time was an opportune one for their (great) master--(to say nothing of the place), although that perhaps does not much matter. For what could the soul of Socrates then contemplate with clearness and serenity? The sacred ship had returned (from Delos), the hemlock draft to which he had been condemned had been drunk, death was now present before him: (his mind) was,(5) as one may suppose,(6) naturally excited(6) at every emotion; or if nature had lost her influence, it must have been deprived of all power of thought.(7) Or let it have been as placid and tranquil so you please, inflexible, in spite of the claims of natural duty,(8) at the tears of her who was so soon to be his widow, and at the sight of his thenceforward orphan children, yet his soul must have been moved even by its very efforts to suppress emotion; and his constancy itself must have been shaken, as he struggled against the disturbance of the excitement around him. Besides, what other thoughts could any man entertain who had been unjustly condemned to die, but such as should solace him for the injury done to him? Especially would this be the case with that glorious creature, the philosopher, to whom injurious treatment would not suggest a craving for consolation, but rather the feeling of resentment and indignation. Accordingly, after his sentence, when his wife came to him with her effeminate cry, O Socrates, you are unjustly condemned! he seemed already to find joy in answering, Would you then wish me justly condemned? It is therefore not to be wondered at, if even in his prison, from a desire to break the foul hands of Anytus and Melitus, he, in the face of death itself, asserts the immortality of the soul by a strong assumption such as was wanted to frustrate the wrong (they had inflicted upon him). So that all the wisdom of Socrates, at that moment, proceeded from the affectation of an assumed composure, rather than the firm conviction of ascertained truth. For by whom has truth ever been discovered without God? By whom has God ever been found without Christ? By whom has Christ ever been explored without the Holy Spirit? By whom has the Holy Spirit ever been attained without the mysterious gift of faith?(9) Socrates, as none can doubt, was actuated by a different spirit. For they say that a demon clave to him from his boyhood--the very worst teacher certainly, notwithstanding the high place assigned to it by poets and philosophers--even next to, (nay, along with) the gods themselves. The teachings of the power of Christ had not yet been given--(that power) which alone can confute this most pernicious influence of evil that has nothing good in it, but is rather the author of all error, and the seducer from all truth. Now if Socrates was pronounced the wisest of men by the oracle of the Pythian demon, which, you may be sure, neatly managed the business for his friend, of how much greater dignity and constancy is the assertion of the Christian wisdom, before the very breath of which the whole host of demons is scattered! This wisdom of the school of heaven frankly and without reserve denies the gods of this world, and shows no such inconsistency as to order a "cock to be sacrificed to AEsculapius:"(1) no new gods and demons does it introduce, but expels the old ones; it corrupts not youth, but instructs them in all goodness and moderation; and so it bears the unjust condemnation not of one city only, but of all the world, in the cause of that truth which incurs indeed the greater hatred in proportion to its fulness: so that it tastes death not out of a (poisoned) cup almost in the way of jollity; but it exhausts it in every kind of bitter cruelty, on gibbets and in holocausts.(2) Meanwhile, in the still gloomier prison of the world amongst your Cebeses and Phaedos, in every investigation concerning (man's) soul, it directs its inquiry according to the rules of God. At all events, you can show us no more powerful expounder of the soul than the Author thereof. From God you may learn about that which you hold of God; but from none else will you get this knowledge, if you get it not from God. For who is to reveal that which God has hidden? To that quarter must we resort in our inquiries whence we are most safe even in deriving our ignorance. For it is really better for us not to know a thing, because He has not revealed it to us, than to know it according to man's wisdom, because he has been bold enough to assume it.
CHAP. II.--THE CHRISTIAN HAS SURE AND SIMPLE KNOWLEDGE CONCERNING THE SUBJECT BEFORE US.
Of course we shall not deny that philosophers have sometimes thought the same things as ourselves. The testimony of truth is the issue thereof. It sometimes happens even in a storm, when the boundaries of sky and sea are lost in confusion, that some harbour is stumbled on (by the labouring ship) by some happy chance; and sometimes in the very shades of night, through blind luck alone, one finds access to a spot, or egress from it. In nature, however, most conclusions are suggested, as it were, by that common intelligence wherewith God has been pleased to endow the soul of man. This intelligence has been caught up by philosophy, and, with the view of glorifying her own art, has been inflated (it is not to be wondered at that I use this language) with straining after that facility of language which is practised in the building up and pulling down of everything, and which has greater aptitude for persuading men by speaking than by teaching. She assigns to things their forms and conditions; sometimes makes them common and public, sometimes appropriates them to private use; on certainties she capriciously stamps the character of uncertainty; she appeals to precedents, as if all things are capable of being compared together; she describes all things by rule and definition, allotting diverse properties even to similar objects; she attributes nothing to the divine permission, but assumes as her principles the laws of nature. I could bear with her pretensions, if only she were herself true to nature, and would prove to me that she had a mastery over nature as being associated with its creation. She thought, no doubt, that she was deriving her mysteries from sacred sources, as men deem them, because in ancient times most authors were supposed to be (I will not say godlike, but) actually gods: as, for instance, the Egyptian Mercury,(3) to whom Plato paid very great deference;(4) and the Phrygian Silenus, to whom Midas lent his long ears, when the shepherds brought him to him; and Hermotimus, to whom the good people of Clazomenae built a temple after his death; and Orpheus; and Musaeus; and Pherecydes, the master of Pythagoras. But why need we care, since these philosophers have also made their attacks upon those writings which are condemned by us under the title of apocryphal,(5) certain as we are that nothing ought to be received which does not agree with the true system of prophecy, which has arisen in this present age;(6) because we do not forget that there have been false prophets, and long previous to them fallen spirits, which have instructed the entire tone and aspect of the world with cunning knowledge of this (philosophic) cast? It is, indeed, not incredible that any man who is in quest of wisdom may have gone so far, as a matter of curiosity, as to consult the very prophets; (but be this as it may), if you take t he philosophers, you would find in them more diversity than agreement, since even in their agreement their diversity is discoverable. Whatever things are true in their systems, and agreeable to prophetic wisdom, they either recommend as emanating from some other source, or else perversely apply(1) in some other sense. This process is attended with very great detriment to the truth, when they pretend that it is either helped by falsehood, or else that falsehood derives support from it. The following circumstance must needs have set ourselves and the philosophers by the ears, especially in this present matter, that they sometimes clothe sentiments which are common to both sides, in arguments which are peculiar to themselves, but contrary in some points to our rule and standard of faith; and at other times defend opinions which are especially their, own, with arguments which both sides acknowledge to be valid, and occasionally conformable to their system of belief. The truth has, at this rate, been well-nigh excluded by the philosophers, through the poisons with which they have infected it; and thus, if we regard both the modes of coalition which we have now mentioned, and which are equally hostile to the truth, we feel the urgent necessity of freeing, on the one hand, the sentiments held by us in common with them from the arguments of the philosophers, and of separating, on the other hand, the arguments which both parties employ from the opinions of the same philosophers. And this we may do by recalling all questions to God's inspired standard, with the obvious exception of such simple cases as being free from the entanglement of any preconceived conceits, one may fairly admit on mere human testimony; because plain evidence of this sort we must sometimes borrow from opponents, when our opponents have nothing to gain from it. Now I am not unaware what a vast mass of literature the philosophers have accumulated concerning the subject before us, in their own commentaries thereon--what various schools of principles there are, what conflicts of opinion, what prolific sources of questions, what perplexing methods of solution. Moreover, I have looked into Medical Science also, the sister (as they say) of Philosophy, which claims as her function to cure the body, and thereby to have a special acquaintance with the soul. From this circumstance she has great differences with her sister, pretending as the latter does to know more about the soul, through the more obvious treatment, as it were, of her in her domicile of the body. But never mind all this contention between them for pre-eminence! For extending their several researches on the soul, Philosophy, on the one hand, has enjoyed the full scope of her genius; while Medicine, on the other hand, has possessed the stringent demands of her art and practice. Wide are men's inquiries into uncertainties; wider still are their disputes about conjectures. However great the difficulty of adducing proofs, the labour of producing conviction is not one whit less; so that the gloomy Heraclitus was quite right, when, observing the thick darkness which obscured the researches of the inquirers about the soul, and wearied with their interminable questions, he declared that he had certainly not explored the limits of the soul, although he had traversed every road in her domains. To the Christian, however, but few words are necessary for the clear understanding of the whole subject. But in the few words there always arises certainty to him; nor is he permitted to give his inquiries a wider range than is compatible with their solution; for "endless questions" the apostle forbids.(2) It must, however, be added, that no solution may be found by any man, but such as is learned from God; and that which is learned of God is the sum and substance of the whole thing.
CHAP. III.--THE SOUL'S ORIGIN DEFINED OUT OF THE SIMPLE WORDS OF SCRIPTURE.
Would to God that no "heresies had been ever necessary, in order that they which are; approved may be made manifest!"(3) We should then be never required to try our strength in contests about the soul with philosophers, those patriarchs of heretics, as they may be fairly called.(4) The apostle, so far back as his own time, foresaw, indeed, that philosophy would do violent injury to the truth.(5) This admonition about false philosophy he was induced to offer after he had been at Athens, had become acquainted with that loquacious city,(6) and had there had a taste of its huckstering wiseacres and talkers. In like manner is the treatment of the soul according to the sophistical doctrines of men which "mix their wine with water."(1) Some of them deny the immortality of the soul; others affirm that it is immortal, and something more. Some raise disputes about its substance; others about its form; others, again, respecting each of its several faculties. One school of philosophers derives its state from various sources, while another ascribes its departure to different destinations. The various schools reflect the character of their masters, according as they have received their impressions from the dignity(2) of Plato, or the vigour(3) of Zeno, or the equanimity(4) of Aristotle, or the stupidity(5) of Epicurus, or the sadness(6) of Heraclitus, or the madness(7) of Empedocles. The fault, I suppose, of the divine doctrine lies in its springing from Judaea(8) rather than from Greece. Christ made a mistake, too, in sending forth fishermen to preach, rather than the sophist. Whatever noxious vapours, accordingly, exhaled from philosophy, obscure the clear and wholesome atmosphere of truth, it will be for Christians to clear away, both by shattering to pieces the arguments which are drawn from the principles of things--I mean those of the philosophers--and by opposing to them the maxims of heavenly wisdom--that is, such as are revealed by the Lord; in order that both the pitfalls wherewith philosophy captivates the heathen may be removed, and the means employed by heresy to shake the faith of Christians may be repressed. We have already decided one point in our controversy with Hermogenes, as we said at the beginning of this treatise, when we claimed the soul to be formed by the breathing(9) of God, and not out of matter. We relied even there on the clear direction of the inspired statement which informs us how that "the Lord God breathed on man's face the breath of life, so that man became a living soul"(10)--by that inspiration of God, of course. On this point, therefore, nothing further need be investigated or advanced by us. It has its own treatise,(11) and its own heretic. I shall regard it as my introduction to the other branches of the subject.
CHAP. IV.--IN OPPOSITION TO PLATO, THE SOUL WAS CREATED AND ORIGINATED AT BIRTH.
After settling the origin of the soul, its condition or state comes up next. For when we acknowledge that the soul originates in the breath of God, it follows that we attribute a beginning to it. This Plato, indeed, refuses to assign to it, for he will have the soul to be unborn and unmade.(12) We, however, from the very fact of its having had a beginning, as well as from the nature thereof, teach that it had both birth and creation. And when we ascribe both birth and creation to it, we have made no mistake: for being born, indeed, is one thing, and being made is another,--the former being the term which is best suited to living beings. When distinctions, however, have places and times of their own, they occasionally possess also reciprocity of application among themselves. Thus, the being made admits of being taken in the sense of being brought forth;(13) inasmuch as everything which receives being or existence, in any way whatever, is in fact generated. For the maker may really be called the parent of the thing that is made: in this sense Plato also uses the phraseology. So far, therefore, as concerns our belief in the souls being made or born, the opinion of the philosopher is overthrown by the authority of prophecy(14) even.
CHAP. V.--PROBABLE VIEW OF THE STOICS, THAT THE SOUL HAS A CORPOREAL NATURE.
Suppose one summons a Eubulus to his assistance, and a Critolaus, and a Zenocrates, and on this occasion Plato's friend Aristotle. They may very possibly hold themselves ready for stripping the soul of its corporeity, unless they happen to see other philosophers opposed to them in their purpose--and this, too, in greater numbers--asserting for the soul a corporeal nature. Now I am not referring merely to those who mould the soul out of manifest bodily substances, as Hipparchus and Heraclitus (do) out of fire; as Hippon and Thales (do) out of water; as Empedocles and Critias (do) out of blood; as Epicurus (does) out of atoms, since even atoms by their coherence form corporeal masses; as Critolaus and his Peripatetics (do) out of a certain indescribable quintessence,(15) if that may be called a body which rather includes and embraces bodily substances;--but I call on the Stoics also to help me, who, while declaring almost in our own terms that the soul is a spiritual essence (inasmuch as breath and spirit are in their nature very near akin to each other), will yet have no difficulty in persuading (us) that the soul is a corporeal substance. Indeed, Zeno, defining the soul to be a spirit generated with (the body,(1)) constructs his argument in this way: That substance which by its departure causes the living being to die is a corporeal one. Now it is by the departure of the spirit, which is generated with (the body,) that the living being dies; therefore the spirit which is generated with (the body) is a corporeal substance. But this spirit which is generated with (the body) is the soul: it follows, then, that the soul is a corporeal substance. Cleanthes, too, will have it that family likeness passes from parents to their children not merely in bodily features, but in characteristics of the soul; as if it were out of a mirror of (a man's) manners, and faculties, and affections, that bodily likeness and unlikeness are caught and reflected by the soul also. It is therefore as being corporeal that it is susceptible of likeness and unlikeness. Again, there is nothing in common between things corporeal and things incorporeal as to their susceptibility. But the soul certainly sympathizes with the body, and shares in its pain, whenever it is injured by bruises, and wounds, and sores: the body, too, suffers with the soul, and is united with it (whenever it is afflicted with anxiety, distress, or love) in the loss of vigour which its companion sustains, whose shame and fear it testifies by its own blushes and paleness. The soul, therefore, is (proved to be) corporeal from this inter-communion of susceptibility. Chrysippus also joins hands in fellowship with Cleanthes when he lays it down that it is not at all possible for things which are endued with body to be separated from things which have not body; because they have no such relation as mutual contact or coherence. Accordingly Lucretius says:(2)
"Tangere enim et tangi nisi corpus nulla potest res."
"For nothing but body is capable of touching or of being touched."
(Such severance, however, is quite natural between the soul and the body); for when the body is deserted by the soul, it is overcome by death. The soul, therefore, is endued with a body; for if it were not corporeal, it could not desert the body.
CHAP. VI.--THE ARGUMENTS OF THE PLATONISTS FOR THE SOUL'S INCORPOREALITY, OPPOSED, PERHAPS FRIVOLOUSLY.
These conclusions the Platonists disturb more by subtilty than by truth. Every body, they say, has necessarily either an animate nature(3) or an inanimate one.(4) If it has the inanimate nature, it receives motion externally to itself; if the animate one, internally. Now the soul receives motion neither externally nor internally: not externally, since it has not the inanimate nature; nor internally, because it is itself rather the giver of motion to the body. It evidently, then, is not a bodily substance, inasmuch as it receives motion neither way, according to the nature and law of corporeal substances. Now, what first surprises us here, is the unsuitableness of a definition which appeals to objects which have no affinity with the soul. For it is impossible for the soul to be called either an animate body or an inanimate one, inasmuch as it is the soul itself which makes the body either animate, if it be present to it, or else inanimate, if it be absent from it. That, therefore, which produces a result, cannot itself be the result, so as to be entitled to the designation of an animate thing or an inanimate one. The soul is so called in respect of its own substance. If, then, that which is the soul admits not of being called an animate body or an inanimate one, how can it challenge comparison with the nature and law of animate and inanimate bodies? Furthermore, since it is characteristic of a body to be moved externally by something else, and as we have already shown that the soul receives motion from some other thing when it is swayed (from the outside, of course, by something else) by prophetic influence or by madness, therefore I must be right in regarding that as bodily substance which, according to the examples we have quoted, is moved by some other object from without. Now, if to receive motion from some other thing is characteristic of a body, how much more is it so to impart motion to something else! But the soul moves the body, all whose efforts are apparent externally, and from without. It is the soul which gives motion to the feet for walking, and to the hands for touching, and to the eyes for sight, and to the tongue for speech--a sort of internal image which moves and animates the surface. Whence could accrue such power to the soul, if it were incorporeal? How could an unsubstantial thing propel solid objects? But in what way do the senses in man seem to be divisible into the corporeal and the intellectual classes? They tell is that the qualities of things corporeal, such as earth and fire, are indicated by the bodily senses--of touch and sight; whilst (the qualities) of incorporeal things--for instance, benevolence and malignity--are discovered by the intellectual faculties. And from this (they deduce what is to them) the manifest conclusion, that the soul is incorporeal, its properties being comprehended by the perception not of bodily organs, but of intellectual faculties. Well, (I shall be much surprised) if I do not at once cut away the very ground on which their argument stands. For I show them how incorporeal things are commonly submitted to the bodily senses--sound, for instance, to the organ of hearing; colour, to the organ of sight; smell, to the olfactory organ. And, just as in these instances, the soul likewise has its contact with(1) the body; not to say that the incorporeal objects are reported to us through the bodily organs, for the express reason that they come into contact with the said organs. Inasmuch, then, as it is evident that even incorporeal objects are embraced and comprehended by corporeal ones, why should not the soul, which is corporeal, be equally comprehended and understood by incorporeal faculties? It is thus certain that their argument fails. Among their more conspicuous arguments will be found this, that in their judgment every bodily substance is nourished by bodily substances; whereas the soul, as being an incorporeal essence, is nourished by incorporeal aliments--for instance, by the studies of wisdom. But even this ground has no stability in it, since Soranus, who is a most accomplished authority in medical science, affords us as answer, when he asserts that the soul is even nourished by corporeal aliments; that in fact it is, when failing and weak, actually refreshed oftentimes by food. Indeed, when deprived of all food, does not the soul entirely remove from the body? Soranus, then, after discoursing about the soul in the amplest manner, filling four volumes with his dissertations, and after weighing well all the opinions of the philosophers, defends the corporeality of the soul, although in the process he has robbed it of its immortality. For to all men it is not given to believe the truth which Christians are privileged to hold. As, therefore, Soranus has shown us from facts that the soul is nourished by corporeal aliments, let the philosopher (adopt a similar mode of proof, and) show that it is sustained by an incorporeal food. But the fact is, that no one has even been able to quench this man's(2) doubts and difficulties about the condition of the soul with the honey-water of Plato's subtle eloquence, nor to surfeit them with the crumbs from the minute nostrums of Aristotle. But what is to become of the souls of all those robust barbarians, which have had no nurture of philosopher's lore indeed, and yet are strong in untaught practical wisdom, and which although very starvelings in philosophy, without your Athenian academies and porches, and even the prison of Socrates, do yet contrive to live? For it is not the soul's actual substance which is benefited by the aliment of learned study, but only its conduct and discipline; such ailment contributing nothing to increase its bulk, but only to enhance its grace. It is, moreover, a happy circumstance that the Stoics affirm that even the arts have corporeality; since at the rate the soul too must be corporeal, since it is commonly supposed to be nourished by the arts. Such, however, is the enormous preoccupation of the philosophic mind, that it is generally unable to see straight before it. Hence (the story of) Thales falling into the well.(3) It very commonly, too, through not understanding even its own opinions, suspects a failure of its own health. Hence (the story of) Chrysippus and the hellebore. Some such hallucination, I take it, must have occurred to him, when he asserted that two bodies could not possibly be contained in one: he must have kept out of mind and sight the case of those pregnant women who, day after day, bear not one body, but even two and three at a time, within the embrace of a single womb. One finds likewise, in the records of the civil law, the instance of a certain Greek woman who gave birth to a quint(4) of children, the mother of all these at one parturition, the manifold parent of a single brood, the prolific produce from a single womb, who, guarded by so many bodies--I had almost said, a people--was herself no less then the sixth person! The whole creation testifies how that those bodies which are naturally destined to issue from bodies, are already (included) in that from which they proceed. Now that which proceeds from some other thing must needs be second to it. Nothing, however, proceeds out of another thing except by the process of generation; but then they are two (things).
CHAP.VII. --THE SOUL'S CORPOREALITY DEMONSTRATED OUT OF THE GOSPELS.
So far as the philosophers are concerned, we have said enough. As for our own teachers, indeed, our reference to them is ex abundanti--a surplusage of authority: in the Gospel itself they will be found to have the clearest evidence for the corporeal nature of the soul. In hell the soul of a certain man is in torment, punished in flames, suffering excruciating thirst, and imploring from the finger of a happier soul, for his tongue, the solace of a drop of water.(1) Do you suppose that this end of the blessed poor man and the miserable rich man is only imaginary? Then why the name of Lazarus in this narrative, if the circumstance is not in (the category of) a real occurrence? But even if it is to be regarded as imaginary, it will still be a testimony to truth and reality. For unless the soul possessed corporeality, the image of a soul could not possibly contain a finger of a bodily substance; nor would the Scripture feign a statement about the limbs of a body, if these had no existence. But what is that which is removed to Hades(2) after the separation of the body; which is there detained; which is reserved until the day of judgment; to which Christ also, on dying, descended? I imagine it is the souls of the patriarchs. But wherefore (all this), if the soul is nothing in its subterranean abode? For nothing it certainly is, if it is not a bodily substance. For whatever is incorporeal is incapable of being kept and guarded in any way; it is also exempt from either punishment or refreshment. That must be a body, by which punishment and refreshment can be experienced. Of this I shall treat more fully in a more fitting place. Therefore, whatever amount of punishment or refreshment the soul tastes in Hades, in its prison or lodging,(3) in the fire or in Abraham's bosom, it gives proof thereby of its own corporeality. For an incorporeal thing suffers nothing, not having that which makes it capable of suffering; else, if it has such capacity, it must be a bodily substance. For in as far as every corporeal thing is capable of suffering, in so far is that which is capable of suffering also corporeal.(4)
CHAP. VIII.--OTHER PLATONIST ARGUMENTS CONSIDERED.
Besides, it would be a harsh and absurd proceeding to exempt anything from the class cf corporeal beings, on the ground that it is not exactly like the other constituents of that class. And where individual creature's possess various properties, does not this variety in works of the same class indicate the greatness of the Creator, in making them at the same time different and yet like, amicable yet rivals? Indeed, the philosophers themselves agree in saying that the universe consists of harmonious oppositions, according to Empedocles' (theory of) friendship and enmity. Thus, then, although corporeal essences are opposed to incorporeal ones, they yet differ from each other in such sort as to amplify their species by their variety, without changing their genus, remaining all alike corporeal; contributing to God's glory in their manifold existence by reason of their variety; so various, by reason of their differencs; so diverse, in that some of them possess one kind of perception, others another; some feeding on one kind of aliment, others on another; some, again, possessing visibility, while others are invisible; some being weighty, others light. They are in the habit of saying that the soul must be pronounced incorporeal on this account, because the bodies of the dead, after its departure from them, become heavier, whereas they ought to be lighter, being deprived of the weight of a body--since the soul is a bodily substance. But what, says Soranus (in answer to this argument), if men should deny that the sea is a bodily substance, because a ship out of the water becomes a heavy and motionless mass? How much truer and stronger, then, is the soul's corporeal essence, which carries about the body, which eventually assumes so great a weight with the nimblest motion! Again, even if the soul is invisible, it is only in strict accordance with the condition of its own corporeality, and suitably to the property of its own essence, as well as to the nature of even those beings to which its destiny made it to be invisible. The eyes of the owl cannot endure the sun, whilst the eagle is so well able to face his glory, that the noble character of its young is determined by the unblinking strength of their gaze; while the eaglet, which turns away its eye from the sun's ray, is expelled from the nest as a degenerate creature! So true is it, therefore, than to one eye an object is invisible, which may be quite plainly seen by another,--without implying any incorporeality in that which is not endued with an equally strong power (of vision). The sun is indeed a bodily substance, because it is (composed of) fire; the object, however, which the eaglet at once admits the existence of, the owl denies, without. any prejudice, nevertheless, to the testimony of the eagle. There is the selfsame difference in respect of the soul's corporeality, which is (perhaps) invisible to the flesh, but perfectly visible to the spirit. Thus John, being "in the Spirit" of God,(1) beheld plainly the souls of the martyrs.(2)
CHAP. IX.--PARTICULARS OF THE ALLEGED COMMUNICATION TO A MONTANIST SISTER.
When we aver that the soul has a body of a quality and kind peculiar to itself, in this special condition of it we shall be already supplied with a decision respecting all the other accidents of its corporeity; how that they belong to it, because we have shown it to be a body, but that even they have a quality peculiar to themselves, proportioned to the special nature of the body (to which they belong); or else, if any accidents (of a body) are remarkable in this instance for their absence, then this, too, results from the peculiarity of the condition of the soul's corporeity, from which are absent sundry qualities which are present to all other corporeal beings. And yet, notwithstanding all this, we shall not be at all inconsistent if we declare that the more usual characteristics of a body, such as invariably accrue to the corporeal condition, belong also to the soul--such as form(3) and limitation; and that triad of dimensions(4)--I mean length, and breadth and height--by which philosophers gauge al bodies. What now remains but for us to give the soul a figure?(5) Plato refuses to do this, as if it endangered the soul's immortality.(6) For everything which has figure is, according to him, compound, and composed of parts;(7) whereas the soul is immortal; and being immortal, it is therefore indissoluble; and being indissoluble, it is figureless: for if, on the contrary, it had figure, it would be of a composite and structural formation. He, however, in some other manner frames for the soul an effigy of intellectual forms, beautiful for its just symmetry and tuitions of philosophy, but misshapen by some contrary qualities. As for ourselves, indeed, we inscribe on the soul the lineaments of corporeity, not simply from the assurance which reasoning has taught us of its corporeal nature, but also from the firm conviction which divine grace impresses on us by revelation. For, seeing that we acknowledge spiritual charismata, or gifts, we too have merited the attainment of the prophetic gift, although coming after John (the Baptist). We have now amongst us a sister whose lot it has been to be favoured with sundry gifts of revelation, which she experiences in the Spirit by ecstatic vision amidst the sacred rites of the Lord's day in the church: she converses with angels, and sometimes even with the Lord; she both sees and hears mysterious communications;(8) some men's hearts she understands, and to them who are in need she distributes remedies. Whether it be in the reading of Scriptures, or in the chanting of psalms, or in the preaching of sermons, or in the offering up of prayers, m all these religious services matter and opportunity are afforded to her of seeing visions. It may possibly have happened to us, whilst this sister of ours was rapt in the Spirit, that we had discoursed in some ineffable way about the soul. After the people are dismissed at the conclusion of the sacred services, she is in the regular habit of reporting to us whatever things she may have seen in vision (for all her communications are examined with the most scrupulous care, in order that their truth may be probed). "Amongst other things," says she, "there has been shown to me a soul in bodily shape, and a spirit has been in the habit of appearing to me; not, however, a void and empty illusion, but such as would offer itself to be even grasped by the hand, soft and transparent and of an etherial colour, and in form resembling that of a human being in every respect." This was her vision, and for her witness there was God; and the apostle most assuredly foretold that there were to be "spiritual gifts" in the church.(9) Now, can you refuse to believe this, even if indubitable evidence on every point is forthcoming for your conviction? Since, then, the soul is a corporeal substance, no doubt it possesses qualities such as those which we have just mentioned, amongst them the property of colour, which is inherent in every bodily substance. Now what colour would you attribute to the soul but an etherial transparent one? Not that its substance is actually the ether or air (although this was the opinion of Aenesidemus and Anaximenes, and I suppose of Heraclitus also, as some say of him), nor transparent light (although Heraclides of Pontus held it to be so). "Thunder-stones,"(10)indeed, are not of igne-ous substance, because they shine with ruddy redness; nor are beryls composed of aqueous matter, because they are of a pure wavy whiteness. How many things also besides these are there which their colour would associate in the same class, but which nature keeps widely apart! Since, however, everything which is very attenuated and transparent bears a strong resemblance to the air, such would be the case with the soul, since in its material nature(1) it is wind and breath, (or spirit); whence it is that the belief of its corporeal quality is endangered, in consequence of the extreme tenuity and subtilty of its essence. Likewise, as regards the figure of the human soul from your own conception, you can well imagine that it is none other than the human form; indeed, none other than the shape of that body which each individual soul animates and moves about. This we may at once be induced to admit from contemplating man's original formation. For only carefully consider, after God hath breathed upon the face of man the breath of life, and man had consequently become a living soul, surely that breath must have passed through the face at once into the interior structure, and have spread itself throughout all the spaces of the body; and as soon as by the divine inspiration it had become condensed, it must have impressed itself on each internal feature, which the condensation had filled in, and so have been, as it were, congealed in shape, (or stereotyped). Hence, by this densifying process, there arose a fixing of the soul's corporeity; and by the impression its figure was formed and moulded. This is the inner man, different from the outer, but yet one in the twofold condition.(2) It, too, has eyes and ears of its own, by means of which Paul must have heard and seen the Lord;(3) it has, moreover all the other members of the body by the help of which it effects all processes of thinking and all activity in dreams. Thus it happens that the rich man in hell has a tongue and poor (Lazarus) a finger and Abraham a bosom.(4) By these features also the souls of the martyrs under the altar are distinguished and known. The soul indeed which in the beginning was associated with Adam's body, which grew with its growth and was moulded after its form proved to be the germ both of the entire substance (of the human soul) and of that (part of) creation
CHAP. X.--THE SIMPLE NATURE OF THE SOUL IS ASSERTED WITH PLATO. THE IDENTITY OF SPIRIT AND SOUL.
It is essential to a firm faith to declare with Plato(5) that the soul is simple; in other words uniform and uncompounded; simply that is to say in respect of its substance. Never mind men's artificial views and theories, and away with the fabrications of heresy!(6) Some maintain that there is within the soul a natural substance--the spirit--which is different from it:(7) as if to have life--the function of the soul--were one thing; and to emit breath--the alleged(8) function of the spirit--were another thing. Now it is not in all animals that these two functions are found; for there are many which only live but do not breathe in that they do not possess the organs of respiration--lungs and windpipes.(9) But of what use is it, in an examination of the soul of man, to borrow proofs from a gnat or an ant, when the great Creator in His divine arrangements has allotted to every animal organs of vitality suited to its own disposition and nature, so that we ought not to catch at any conjectures from comparisons of this sort? Man, indeed, although organically furnished with lungs and windpipes, will not on that account be proved to breathe by one process, and to live by another;(10) nor can the ant, although defective in these organs, be on that account said to be without respiration, as if it lived and that was all. For by whom has so clear an insight into the works of God been really attained, as to entitle him to assume that these organic resources are wanting to any living thing ? There is that Herophilus, the well-known surgeon, or (as I may almost call him) butcher, who cut up no end of persons,(11) in order to investigate the secrets of nature, who ruthlessly handled(12) human creatures to discover (their form and make): I have my doubts whether he succeeded in clearly exploring all the internal parts of their structure, since death itself changes and disturbs the natural functions of life, especially when the death is not a natural one, but such as must cause irregularity and error amidst the very processes of dissection. Philosophers have affirmed it to be a certain fact, that gnats, and ants, and moths have no pulmonary or arterial organs. Well, then, tell me, you curious and elaborate investigator of these mysteries, have they eyes for seeing withal? But yet they proceed to whatever point they wish, and they both shun and aim at various objects by processes of sight: point out their eyes to me, show me their pupils. Moths also gnaw and eat: demonstrate to me their mandibles, reveal their jaw-teeth. Then, again, gnats hum and buzz, nor even in the dark are they unable to find their way to our ears:(1) point out to me, then, not only the noisy tube, but the stinging lance of that mouth of theirs. Take any living thing whatever, be it the tiniest you can find, it must needs be fed and sustained by some food or other: show me, then, their organs for taking into their system, digesting, and ejecting food. What must we say, therefore? If it is by such instruments that life is maintained, these instrumental means must of course exist in all things which are to live, even though they are not apparent to the eye or to the apprehension by reason of their minuteness. You can more readily believe this, if you remember that God manifests His creative greatness quite as much in small objects as in the very largest. If, however, you suppose that God's wisdom has no capacity for forming such infinitesimal corpuscles, you can still recognise His greatness, in that He has furnished even to the smallest animals the functions of life, although in the absence of the suitable organs,--securing to them the power of sight, even without eyes; of eating, even without teeth; and of digestion, even without stomachs. Some animals also have the ability to move forward without feet, as serpents, by a gliding motion; or as worms, by vertical efforts; or as snails and slugs, by their slimy crawl. Why should you not then believe that respiration likewise may be effected without the bellows of the lungs, and without arterial canals? You would thus supply yourself with a strong proof that the spirit or breath is an adjunct of the human soul, for the very reason that some creatures lack breath, and that they lack it because they are not furnished with organs of respiration. You think it possible for a thing to live without breath; then why not suppose that a thing might breathe without lungs? Pray, tell me, what is it to breathe? I suppose it means to emit breath from yourself. What is it not to live? I suppose it means not to emit breath from yourself. This is the answer which I should have to make, if "to breathe" is not the same thing as "to live." It must, however, be characteristic of a dead man not to respire: to respire, therefore, is the characteristic of a living man. But to respire is likewise the characteristic of a breathing man: therefore also to breathe is the characteristic of a living man. Now, if both one and the other could possibly have been accomplished without the soul, to breathe might not be a function of the soul, but merely to live. But indeed to live is to breathe, and to breathe is to live. Therefore this entire process, both of breathing and living, belongs to that to which living belongs--that is, to the soul. Well, then, since you separate the spirit (or breath) and the soul, separate their operations also. Let both of them accomplish some act apart from one another--the soul apart, the spirit apart. Let the soul live without the spirit; let the spirit breathe without the soul. Let one of them quit men's bodies, let the other remain; let death and life meet and agree. If indeed the soul and the spirit are two, they may be divided; and thus, by the separation of the one which departs from the one which remains, there would accrue the union and meeting together of life and of death. But such a union never will accrue: therefore they are not two, and they cannot be divided; but divided they might have been, if they had been (two). Still two things may surely coalesce in growth. But the two in question never will coalesce, since to live is one thing, and to breathe is another. Substances are distinguished by their operations. How much firmer ground have you for believing that the soul and the spirit are but one, since you assign to them no difference; so that the soul is itself the spirit, respiration being the function of that of which life also is! But what if you insist on supposing that the day is one thing, and the light, which is incidental to the day, is another thing, whereas day is only the light itself? There must, of course, be also different kinds of light, as (appears) from the ministry of fires. So likewise will there be different sorts of spirits, according as they emanate from God or from the devil. Whenever, indeed, the question is about soul and spirit, the soul will be (understood to be) itself the spirit, just is the day is the light itself. For a thing is itself identical with that by means of which itself exists.
CHAP. XI.--SPIRIT--A TERM EXPRESSIVE OF AN OPERATION OF THE SOUL, NOT OF ITS NATURE. TO BE CAREFULLY DISTINGUISHED FROM THE SPIRIT OF GOD.
But the nature of my present inquiry obliges me to call the soul spirit or breath, because to breathe is ascribed to another substance. We, however, claim this (operation) for the soul, which we acknowledge to be an indivisible simple substance, and therefore we must call it spirit in a definitive sense--not because of its condition, but of its action; not in respect of its nature, but of its operation; because it respires, and not because it is spirit in any especial sense.(1) For to blow or breathe is to respire. So that we are driven to describe, by (the term which indicates this respi-ration--that is to say) spirit--the soul which we hold to be, by the propriety of its action, breath. Moreover, we properly and especially insist on calling it breath (or spirit), in opposition to Hermogenes, who derives the soul from matter instead of from the afflatus or breath of God. He, to be sure, goes flatly against the testimony of Scripture, and with this view converts breath into spirit, because he cannot believe that the (creature on which was breathed the) Spirit of God fell into sin, and then into condemnation; and therefore he would conclude that the soul came from matter rather than from the Spirit or breath of God. For this reason, we on our side even from that passage, maintain the soul to be breath and not the spirit, in the scriptural and distinctive sense of the spirit; and here it is with regret that we apply the term spirit at all in the lower sense, in consequence of the identical action of respiring and breathing. In that passage, the only question is about the natural substance; to respire being an act of nature. I would not tarry a moment longer on this point, were it not for those heretics who introduce into the soul some spiritual germ which passes my comprehension: (they make it to have been) conferred upon the soul by the secret liberality of her mother Sophia (Wisdom), without the knowledge of the Creator.(2) But (Holy) Scripture, which has a better knowledge of the soul's Maker, or rather God, has told us nothing more than that God breathed on man's face the breath of life, and that man became a living soul, by means of which he was both to live and breathe; at the same time making a sufficiently clear distinction between the spirit and the soul,(3) in such passages as the following, wherein God Himself declares: "My Spirit went forth from me, and I made the breath of each. And the breath of my Spirit became soul."(4) And again: "He giveth breath unto the people that are on the earth, and Spirit to them that walk thereon."(5) First of all there comes the (natural) soul, that is to say, the breath, to the people that are on the earth,--in other words, to those who act carnally in the flesh; then afterwards comes the Spirit to those who walk thereon,--that is, who subdue the works of the flesh; because the apostle also says, that "that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, (or in possession of the natural soul,) and afterward that which is spiritual."(6) For, inasmuch as Adam straightway predicted that "great mystery of Christ and the church,"(7) when he said, "This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they two shall become one flesh,"(8) he experienced the influence of the Spirit. For there fell upon him that ecstasy, which is the Holy Ghost's operative virtue of prophecy. And even the evil spirit too is an influence which comes upon a man. Indeed, the Spirit of God not more really "turned Saul into another man,"(9) that is to say, into a prophet, when "people said one to another, What is this which is come to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?"(10) than did the evil spirit afterwards turn him into another man--in other words, into an apostate. Judas likewise was for a long time reckoned among the elect (apostles), and was even appointed to the office of their treasurer; he was not yet the traitor, although he was become fraudulent; but afterwards the devil entered into him. Consequently, as the spirit neither of God nor of the devil is naturally planted with a man's soul at his birth, this soul must evidently exist apart and alone, previous to the accession to it of either spirit: if thus apart and alone, it must also be simple and un-compounded as regards its substance; and therefore it cannot respire from any other cause than from the actual condition of its own substance.
CHAP. XII.--DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE MIND AND THE SOUL, AND THE RELATION BETWEEN THEM.
In like manner the mind also, or animus, which the Greeks designate NO
CHAP. XIII.--THE SOUL'S SUPREMACY.
It next remains to examine where lies the supremacy; in other words, which of the two is superior to the other, so that with which the supremacy clearly lies shall be the essentially superior substance;(5) whilst that over which this essentially superior substance shall have authority shall be considered as the natural functionary of the superior substance. Now who will hesitate to ascribe this entire authority to the soul, from the name of which the whole man has received his own designation in common phraseology? How many souls, says the rich man, do I maintain? not how many minds. The pilot's desire, also, is to rescue so many souls from shipwreck, not so many minds; the labourer, too, in his work, and the soldier on the field of battle, affirms that he lays down his soul (or life), not his mind. Which of the two has its perils or its vows and wishes more frequently on men's lips--the mind or the soul? Which of the two are dying persons, said to have to do with the mind or the soul? In short, philosophers themselves, and medical men, even when it is their purpose to discourse about the mind, do in every instance inscribe on their title-page(6) and table of contents,(7) "De Anima" ("A treatise on the soul"). And that you may also have God's voucher on the subject, it is the soul which He addresses; it is the soul which He exhorts and counsels, to turn the mind and intellect to Him. It is the soul which Christ came to save; it is the soul which He threatens to destroy in hell; it is the soul (or life) which He forbids being made too much of; it is His soul, too (or life), which the good Shepherd Himself lays down for His sheep. It is to the soul, therefore, that you ascribe the supremacy; in it also you possess that union of substance, of which you perceive the mind to be the instrument, not the ruling power.
CHAP. XIV.--THE SOUL VARIOUSLY DIVIDED BY THE PHILOSOPHERS; THIS DIVISION IS NOT A MATERIAL DISSECTION.
Being thus single, simple, and entire in itself, it is as incapable of being composed and put together from external constituents, as it is of being divided in and of itself, inasmuch as it is indissoluble. For if it had been possible to construct it and to destroy it, it would no longer be immortal. Since, however, it is not mortal, it is also incapable of dissolution and division. Now, to be divided means to be dissolved, and to be dissolved means to die. Yet (philosophers) have divided the soul into parts: Plato, for instance, into two; Zeno into three; Panaetius, into five or six; Soranus, into seven; Chrysippus, into as many as eight; and Apollophanes, into as many as nine; whilst certain of the Stoics have found as many as twelve parts in the soul. Posidonius makes even two more than these: he starts with two leading faculties of the soul,--the directing faculty, which they designate
CHAP. XV.--THE SOUL'S VITALITY AND INTELLIGENCE. ITS CHARACTER AND SEAT IN MAN.
In the first place, (we must determine) whether there be in the soul some supreme principle of vitality and intelligence(3) which they call "the ruling power of the soul"--
"Namque homini sanguis circumcordialis est sensus."(14)
"Man has his (supreme) sensation in the blood around his heart."
Even Protagoras(15) likewise, and Apollodorus, and Chrysippus, entertain this same view, so that (our friend) Asclepiades may go in quest of his goats bleating without a heart, and hunt his flies without their heads; and let all those (worthies), too, who have predetermined the character of the human soul from the condition of brute animals, be quite sure that it is themselves rather who are alive in a heartless and brainless state.
CHAP. XVI.--THE SOUL'S PARTS. ELEMENTS OF THE RATIONAL SOUL.
That position of Plato's is also quite in keeping with the faith, in which he divides the soul into two parts--the rational and the irrational. To this definition we take no exception, except that we would not ascribe this twofold distinction to the nature (of the soul). It is the rational element which we must believe to be its natural condition, impressed upon it from its very first creation by its Author, who is Himself esentially rational. For how should that be other than rational, which God produced on His own prompting; nay more, which He expressly sent forth by His own afflatus or breath? The irrational element, however, we must understand to have accrued later, as having proceeded from the instigation of the serpent--the very achievement of (the first) transgression--which thenceforward became inherent in the soul, and grew with its growth, assuming the manner by this time of a natural development, happening as it did immediately at the beginning of nature. But, inasmuch as the same Plato speaks of the rational element only as existing in the soul of God Himself, if we were to ascribe the irrational element likewise to the nature which our soul has received from God, then the irrational element will be equally derived from God, as being a natural production, because God is the author of nature. Now from the devil proceeds the incentive to sin. All sin, however, is irrational: therefore the irrational proceeds from the devil, from whom sin proceeds; and it is extraneous to God, to whom also the irrational is an alien principle. The diversity, then, between these two elements arises from the difference of their authors. When, therefore, Plato reserves the rational element (of the soul) to God alone, and subdivides it into two departments the irascible, which they call
CHAP. XVII.--THE FIDELITY OF THE SENSES, IMPUGNED BY PLATO, VINDICATED BY CHRIST HIMSELF.
Then, again, when we encounter the question (as to the veracity of those five senses which we learn with our alphabet; since from this source even there arises some support for our heretics. They are the faculties of seeing, and hearing, and smelling, and tasting, and touching. The fidelity of these senses is impugned with too much severity by the Platonists,(8) and according to some by Heraclitus also, and Diocles, and Empedocles; at any rate, Plato, in the Timoeus, declares the operations of the senses to be irrational, and vitiated(9) by our opinions or beliefs. Deception is imputed to the sight, because it asserts that oars, when immersed in the water, are inclined or bent, notwithstanding the certainty that they are straight; because, again, it is quite sure that distant tower with its really quadrangular contour is round; because also it will discredit the fact of the truly parallel fabric of yonder porch or arcade, by supposing it to be narrower and narrower towards its end; and because it will join with the sea the sky which hangs at so great a height above it. In the same way, our hearing is charged with fallacy: we think, for instance, that is a noise in the sky which is nothing else than the rumbling of a carriage; or, if you prefer it(10) the other way, when the thunder rolled at a distance, we were quite sure that it was a carriage which made the noise. Thus, too, are our faculties of smell and taste at fault, because the selfsame perfumes and wines lose their value after we have used them awhile. On the same principle our touch is censured, when the identical pavement which seemed rough to the hands is felt by the feet to be smooth enough; and in the baths a stream of warm water is pronounced to be quite hot at first, and beautifully temperate afterwards. Thus, according to them, our senses deceive us, when all the while we are (the cause of the discrepancies, by) changing our opinions. The Stoics are more moderate in their views; for they do not load with the obloquy of deception every one of the senses, and at all times. The Epicureans, again, show still greater consistency, in maintaining that all the senses are equally true in their testimony, and always so--only in a different way. It is not our organs of sensation that are at fault, but our opinion. The senses only experience sensation, they do not exercise opinion; it is the soul that opines. They separated opinion from the senses, and sensation from the soul. Well, but whence comes opinion, if not from the senses? Indeed, unless the eye had descried a round shape in that tower, it could have had no idea that it possessed roundness. Again, whence arises sensation if not from the soul? For if the soul had no body, it would have no sensation. Accordingly, sensation comes from the soul, and opinion from sensation; and the whole (process) is the soul. But further, it may well be insisted on that there is a something which causes the discrepancy between the report of the senses and the reality of the facts. Now, since it is possible, (as we have seen), for phenomena to be reported which exist not in the objects, why should it not be equally possible for phenomena to be reported which are caused not by the senses, but by reasons and conditions which intervene, in the very nature of the case? If so, it will be only right that they should be duly recognised. The truth is, that it was the water which was the cause of the oar seeming to be inclined or bent: out of the water, it was perfectly straight in appearance (as well as in fact). The delicacy of the substance or medium which forms a mirror by means of its luminosity, according as it is struck or shaken, by the vibration actually destroys the appearance of the straightness of a right line. In like manner, the condition of the open space which fills up the interval between it and us, necessarily causes the true shape of the tower to escape our notice; for the uniform density of the surrounding air covering its angles with a similar light obliterates their outlines. So, again, the equal breadth of the arcade is sharpened or narrowed off towards its termination, until its aspect, becoming more and more contracted under its prolonged roof, comes to a vanishing point in the direction of its farthest distance. So the sky blends itself with the sea, the vision becoming spent at last, which had maintained duly the boundaries of the two elements, so long as its vigorous glance lasted. As for the (alleged cases of deceptive) hearing, what else could produce the illusion but the similarity of the sounds? And if the perfume afterwards was less strong to the smell, and the wine more flat to the taste, and the water not so hot to the touch, their original strength was after all found in the whole of them pretty well unimpaired. In the matter, however, of the roughness and smoothness of the pavement, it was only natural and right that limbs like the hands and the feet, so different in tenderness and callousness, should have different impressions. In this way, then, there cannot occur an illusion in our senses without an adequate cause. Now if special causes, (such as we have indicated,) mislead our senses add (through our senses) our opinions also, then we must no longer ascribe the deception to the senses, which follow the specific causes of the illusion, nor to the opinions we form; for these are occasioned and controlled by our senses, which only follow the causes. Persons who are afflicted with madness or insanity, mistake one object for another. Orestes in his sister sees his mother; Ajax sees Ulysses in the slaughtered herd; Athamas and Agave descry wild beasts in their children. Now is it their eyes or their phrenzy which you must blame for so vast a fallacy? All things taste bitter, in the redundancy of their bile, to those who have the jaundice. Is it their taste which you will charge with the physical prevarication, or their ill state of health? All the senses, therefore, are disordered occasionally, or imposed upon, but only in such a way as to be quite free of any fault in their own natural functions. But further still, not even against the specific causes and conditions themselves must we lay an indictment of deception. For, since these physical aberrations happen for stated reasons, the reasons do not deserve to be regarded as deceptions. Whatever ought to occur in a certain manner is not a deception. If, then, even these circumstantial causes must be acquitted of all censure and blame, how much more should we free from reproach the senses, over which the said causes exercise a liberal sway! Hence we are bound most certainly to claim for the senses truth, and fidelity, and integrity, seeing that they never render any other account of their impressions than is enjoined on them by the specific causes or conditions which in all cases produce that discrepancy which appears between the report of the senses and the reality of the objects. What mean you, then, O most insolent Academy? You overthrow the entire condition of human life; you disturb the whole order of nature; you obscure the good providence of God Himself: for the senses of man which God has appointed over all His works, that we might understand, inhabit, dispense, and enjoy them, (you reproach) as fallacious and treacherous tyrants! But is it not from these that all creation receives our services? Is it not by their means that a second form is impressed even upon the world?--so many arts, so many industrious resources, so many pursuits, such business, such offices, such commerce, such remedies, counsels, consolations, modes, civilizations, and accomplishments of life! All these things have produced the very relish and savour of human existence; whilst by these senses of man, he alone of all animated nature has the distinction of being a rational animal, with a capacity for intelligence and knowledge--nay, an ability to form the Academy itself! But Plato, in order to disparage the testimony of the senses, in the Phoedrus denies (in the person of Socrates) his own ability to know even himself, according to the injunction of the Delphic oracle; and in the Theoetetus he deprives himself of the faculties of knowledge and sensation; and again, in the Phoedrus he postpones till after death the posthumous knowledge, as he calls it, of the truth; and yet for all he went on playing the philosopher even before he died. We may not, I say, we may not call into question the truth of the (poor vilified) senses,(1) lest we should even in Christ Himself, bring doubt upon(2) the truth of their sensation; lest perchance it should be said that He did not really "behold Satan as lightning fall from heaven;"(3) that He did not really hear the Father's voice testifying of Himself;(4) or that He was deceived in touching Peter's wife's mother;(5) or that the fragrance of the ointment which He afterwards smelled was different from that which He accepted for His burial;(6) and that the taste of the wine was different from that which He consecrated in memory of His blood.(7) On this false principle it was that Marcion actually chose to believe that He was a phantom, denying to Him the reality of a perfect body. Now, not even to His apostles was His nature ever a matter of deception. He was truly both seen and heard upon the mount;(8) true and real was the draught of that wine at the marriage of (Cana in) Galilee;(9) true and real also was the touch of the then believing Thomas.(10) Read the testimony of John: "That which we have seen, which we have heard, which we have looked upon with our eyes, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life."(11) False, of course, and deceptive must have been that testimony, if the witness of our eyes, and ears, and hands be by nature a lie.
CHAP. XVIII.--PLATO SUGGESTED CERTAIN ERRORS TO THE GNOSTICS. FUNCTIONS OF THE SOUL.
I turn now to the department of our intellectual faculties, such as Plato has handed it over to the heretics, distinct from our bodily functions, having obtained the knowledge of them before death.(12) He asks in the Phoedo, What, then, (do you think) concerning the actual possession of knowledge? Will the body be a hindrance to it or not, if one shall admit it as an associate in the search after knowledge? I have a similar question to ask: Have the faculties of their sight and hearing any truth and reality for human beings or not? Is it not the case, that even the poets are always muttering against us, that we can never hear or see anything for certain? He remembered, no doubt, what Epicharmus the comic poet had said: "It is the mind which sees, the mind that hears--all else is blind and deaf." To the same purport he says again, that man is the wisest whose mental power is the clearest; who never applies the sense of sight, nor adds to his mind the help of any such faculty, but employs the intellect itself in unmixed serenity when he indulges in contemplation for the purpose of acquiring an unalloyed insight into the nature of things; divorcing himself with all his might from his eyes and ears and (as one must express himself) from the whole of his body, on the ground of its disturbing the soul, and not allowing it to possess either truth or wisdom, whenever it is brought into communication with it. We see, then, that in opposition to the bodily senses another faculty is provided of a much more serviceable character, even the powers of the soul, which produce an understanding of that truth whose realities are not palpable nor open to the bodily senses, but are very remote from men's everyday knowledge, lying in secret--in the heights above, and in the presence of God Himself. For Plato maintains that there are certain invisible substances, incorporeal, celestial,(13) divine, and eternal, which they call ideas, that is to say, (archetypal) forms, which are the patterns and causes of those objects of nature which are manifest to us, and lie under our corporeal senses: the former, (according to Plato,) are the actual verities, and the latter the images and likenesses of them. Well, now, are there not here gleams of the heretical principles of the Gnostics and the Valentinians? It is from this philosophy that they eagerly adopt the difference between the bodily senses and the intellectual faculties,--a distinction which they actually apply to the parable of the ten virgins: making the five foolish virgins to symbolize the five bodily senses, seeing that these are so silly and so easy to be deceived; and the wise virgin to express the meaning of the intellectual faculties, which are so wise as to attain to that mysterious and supernal truth, which is placed in the pleroma. (Here, then, we have) the mystic original of the ideas of these heretics. For in this philosophy lie both their AEons and their genealogies. Thus, too, do they divide sensation, both into the intellectual powers from their spiritual seed, and the sensuous faculties from the animal, which cannot by any means comprehend spiritual things. From the former germ spring invisible things; from the latter, visible things which are grovelling and temporary, and which are obvious to the senses, placed as they are in palpable forms.(1) It is because of these views that we have in a former passage stated as a preliminary fact, that the mind is nothing else than an apparatus or instrument of the soul,(2) and that the spirit is no other faculty, separate from the soul, but is the soul itself exercised in respiration; although that influence which either God on the one hand, or the devil on the other, has breathed upon it, must be regarded in the light of an additional element.(3) And now, with respect to the difference between the intellectual powers and the sensuous faculties, we only admit it so far as the natural diversity between them requires of us. (There is, of course, a difference) between things corporeal and things spiritual, between visible and invisible beings, between objects which are manifest to the view and those which are hidden from it; because the one class are attributed to sensation, and the other to the intellect. But yet both the one and the other must be regarded as inherent in the soul, and as obedient to it, seeing that it embraces bodily objects by means of the body, in exactly the same way that it conceives incorporeal objects by help of the mind, except that it is even exercising sensation when it is employing the intellect. For is it not true, that to employ the senses is to use the intellect? And to employ the intellect amounts to a use of the senses?(4) What indeed can sensation be, but the understanding of that which is the object of the sensation? And what can the intellect or understanding be, but the seeing of that which is the object understood? Why adopt such excruciating means of torturing simple knowledge and crucifying the truth? Who can show me the sense which does not understand the object of its sensation, or the intellect which perceives not the object which it understands, in so clear away as to prove to me that the one can do without the other? If corporeal things are the objects of sense, and incorporeal ones objects of the intellect, it is the classes of the objects which are different, not the domicile or abode of sense and intellect; in other words, not the soul (anima) and the mind (animus). By what, in Short, are corporeal things perceived? If it is by the soul,(5) then the mind is a sensuous faculty, and not merely an intellectual power; for whilst it understands, it also perceives, because without the perception there is no understanding. If, however, corporeal things are perceived by the soul, then it follows that the soul's power is an intellectual one, and not merely a sensuous faculty; for while it perceives it also understands, because without understanding there is no perceiving. And then, again, by what are incorporeal things understood? If it is by the mind,(6) where will be the soul? If it is by the soul, where will be the mind? For things which differ ought to be mutually absent from each other, when they are occupied in their respective functions and duties. It must be your opinion, indeed, that the mind is absent from the soul on certain occasons; for (you suppose) that we are so made and constituted as not to know that we have seen or heard something, on the hypothesis(7) that the mind was absent at the time. I must therefore maintain that the very soul itself neither saw nor heard, since it was at the given moment absent with its active power--that is to say, the mind. The truth is, that whenever a man is out of his mind,(8) it is his soul that is demented--not because the mind is absent, but because it is a fellow-sufferer (with the soul) at the time.(9) Indeed, it is the soul which is principally affected by casualties of such a kind. Whence is this fact confirmed? It is confirmed from the following consideration: that after the soul's departure, the mind is no longer found in a man: it always follows the soul; nor does it at last remain behind it alone, after death. Now, since it follows the soul, it is also indissolubly attached to it; just as the understanding is attached to the soul, which is followed by the mind, with which the understanding is indissolubly connected. Granted now that the understanding is superior to the senses, and a better discoverer of mysteries, what matters it, so long as it is only a peculiar faculty of the soul, just as the senses themselves are? It does not at all affect my argument, unless the understanding were held to be superior to the senses, for the purpose of deducing from the allegation of such superiority its separate condition likewise. After thus combating their alleged difference, I have also to refute this question of superiority, previous to my approaching the belief (which heresy propounds) in a superior god. On this point, however, of a (superior) god, we shall have to measure swords with the heretics on their own ground.(1) Our present subject concerns the soul, and the point is to prevent the insidious ascription of a superiority to the intellect or understanding. Now, although the objects which are touched by the intellect are of a higher nature, since they are spiritual, than those which are embraced by the senses, since these are corporeal, it will still be only a superiority in the objects--as of lofty ones contrasted with humble--not in the faculties of the intellect against the senses. For how can the intellect be superior to the senses, when it is these which educate it for the discovery of various truths? It is a fact, that these truths are learned by means of palpable forms; in other words, invisible things are discovered by the help of visible ones, even as the apostle tells us in his epistle: "For the invisible things of Him are clearly seen from the creation of the world, being understood by the things that are made;"(2) and as Plato too might inform our heretics: "The things which appear are the image(3) of the things which are concealed from view,"(4) whence it must needs follow that this world is by all means an image of some other: so that the intellect evidently uses the senses for its own guidance, and authority, and mainstay; and without the senses truth could not be attained. How, then, can a thing be superior to that which is instrumental to its existence, which is also indispensable to it, and to whose help it owes everything which it acquires? Two conclusions therefore follow from what we have said:(1) That the intellect is not to be preferred above the senses, on the (supposed) ground that the agent through which a thing exists is inferior to the thing itself; and(2) that the intellect must not be separated from the senses, since the instrument by which a thing's existence is sustained is associated with the thing itself.
CHAP. XIX.--THE INTELLECT COEVAL WITH THE SOUL IN THE HUMAN BEING. AN EXAMPLE FROM ARISTOTLE CONVERTED INTO EVIDENCE FAVOURABLE TO THESE VIEWS.
Nor must we fail to notice those writers who deprive the soul of the intellect even for a short period of time. They do this in order to prepare the way of introducing the intellect--and the mind also--at a subsequent time of life, even at the time when intelligence appears in a man. They maintain that the stage of infancy is supported by the soul alone, simply to promote vitality, without any intention of acquiring knowledge also, because not all things have knowledge which possess life. Trees, for instance, to quote Aristotle's example,(5) have vitality, but have not knowledge; and with him agrees every one who gives a share to all animated beings of the animal substance, which, according to our view, exists in man alone as his special property,--not because it is the work of God, which all other creatures are likewise, but because it is the breath of God, which this (human soul) alone is, which we say is born with the full equipment of its proper faculties. Well, let them meet us with the example of the trees: we will accept their challenge, (nor shah we find in it any detriment to our own argument;) for it is an undoubted fact, that whilst trees are yet but twigs and sprouts, and before they even reach the sapling stage, there is in them their own proper faculty of life, as soon as they spring out of their native beds. But then, as time goes on, the vigour of the tree slowly advances, as it grows and hardens into its woody trunk, until its mature age completes the condition which nature destines for it. Else what resources would trees possess in due course for the inoculation of grafts, and the formation of leaves, and the swelling of their buds, and the graceful shedding of their blossom, and the softening of their sap, were there not in them the quiet growth of the full provision of their nature, and the distribution of this life over all their branches for the accomplishment of their maturity?
Trees, therefore, have ability or knowledge; and they derive it from whence they also derive vitality--that is, from the one source of vitality and knowledge which is peculiar to their nature, and that from the infancy which they, too, begin with. For I observe that even the vine, although yet tender and immature, still understands its own natural business, and strives to cling to some support, that, leaning on it, and lacing through it,(1) it may so attain its growth. Indeed, without waiting for the husbandman's training, without an espalier, without a prop, whatever its tendrils catch, it will fondly cling to,(2) and embrace with really greater tenacity and force by its own inclination than by your volition. It longs and hastens to be secure. Take also ivy-plants, never mind how young: I observe their attempts from the very first to grasp, objects above them, and outrunning everything else, to hang on to the highest thing, preferring as they do to spread over walls with their leafy web and woof rather than creep on the ground and be trodden under by every foot that likes to crush them. On the other hand, in the case of such trees as receive injury from contact with a building, how do they hang off as they grow and avoid what injures them! You can see that their branches were naturally meant to take the opposite direction, and can very well understand the vital instincts(3) of such a tree from its avoidance of the wall. It is contented (if it be only a little shrub) with its own insignificant destiny, which it has in its foreseeing instinct thoroughly been aware of from its: infancy, only it still fears even a ruined building. On my side, then, why should I not contend for these wise and sagacious natures of trees? Let them have vitality, as the philosophers permit it; but let them have knowledge too, although the philosophers disavow it. Even the infancy of a log, then, may have an intellect (suitable to it): how much more may that of a human being, whose soul (which may be compared with the nascent sprout of a tree) has been derived from Adam as its root, and has been propagated amongst his posterity by means of woman, to whom it has been entrusted for transmission, and thus has sprouted into life with all its natural apparatus, both of intellect and of sense! I am much mistaken if the human person, even from his infancy, when he saluted life with his infant cries, does not testify to his actual possession of the faculties of sensation and intellect by the fact of his birth, vindicating at one and the same time the use of all his senses--that of seeing by the light, that of hearing by sounds, that of taste by liquids, that of smell by the air, that of touch by the ground. This earliest voice of infancy, then, is the first effort of the senses, and the initial impulse of mental perceptions.(4) There is also the further fact, that some persons understand this plaintive cry of the infant to be an augury of affliction in the prospect of our tearful life, whereby from the very moment of birth (the soul) has to be regarded as endued with prescience, much more with intelligence. Accordingly by this intuition(5) the babe knows his mother, discerns the nurse, and even recognises the waiting-maid; refusing the breast of another woman, and the cradle that is not his own, and longing only for the arms to which he is accustomed. Now from what source does he acquire this discernment of novelty and custom, if not from instinctive knowledge? Holy does it happen that he is irritated and quieted, if not by help of his initial intellect? It would be very strange indeed that infancy were naturally so lively, if it had not mental power; and naturally so capable of impression and affection, if it had no intellect. But (we hold the contrary): for Christ, by "accepting praise out of the mouth of babes and sucklings,"(6) has declared that neither childhood nor infancy is without sensibility,(7)--the former of which states, when meeting Him with approving shouts, proved its ability to offer Him testimony;(8) while the other, by being slaughtered, for His sake of course, knew what violence meant.(9)
CHAP. XX.--THE SOUL, AS TO ITS NATURE UNIFORM, BUT ITS FACULTIES VARIOUSLY DEVELOPED. VARIETIES ONLY ACCIDENTAL.
And here, therefore, we draw our conclusion, that all the natural properties of the soul are inherent in it as parts of its substance; and that they grow and develope along with it, from the very moment of its own origin at birth. Just as Seneca says, whom we so often find on our side:(10) "There are implanted within us the seeds of all the arts and periods of life. And God. our Master, secretly produces our mental dispositions;" that is, from the germs which are implanted and hidden in us by means of infancy, and these are the intellect: for from these our natural dispositions are evolved. Now, even the seeds of plants have, one form in each kind, but their development varies: some open and expand in a healthy and perfect state, while others either improve or degenerate, owing to the conditions of weather and soil, and from the appliance of labour and care; also from the course of the seasons, and from the occurrence of casual circumstances. In like manner, the soul may well be(1) uniform in its seminal origin, although multiform by the process of nativity.(2) And here. local influences, too, must be taken into account. It has been said that dull and brutish persons are born at Thebes; and the most accomplished in wisdom and speech at Athens, where in the district of Colythus(3) children speak--such is the precocity of their tongue--before they are a month old. Indeed, Plato himself tells us, in the Timoeus, that Minerva, when preparing to found her great city, only regarded the nature of the country which gave promise of mental dispositions of this kind; whence he himself in Tree Laws instructs Megillus and Clinias to be careful in their selection of a site for building a city. Empedocles, however, places the cause of a subtle or an obtuse intellect in the quality of the blood, from which he derives progress and perfection in learning and science. The subject of national peculiarities has grown by this time into proverbial notoriety. Comic poets deride the Phrygians for their cowardice; Sallust reproaches the Moors for their levity, and the Dalmatians for their cruelty; even the apostle brands the Cretans as "liars."(4) Very likely, too, something must be set down to the score of bodily condition and the state of the health. Stoutness hinders knowledge, but a spare form stimulates it; paralysis prostrates the mind, a decline preserves it. How much more will those accidental circumstances have to be noticed, which, in addition to the state of one's body or one's health, tend to sharpen or to dull the intellect! It is sharpened by learned pursuits, by the sciences, the arts, by experimental knowledge, business habits, and studies; it is blunted by ignorance, idle habits, inactivity, lust, inexperience, listlessness, and vicious pursuits. Then, besides these influences, there must perhaps(5) be added the supreme powers. Now these are the supreme powers: according to our (Christian) notions, they are the Lord God and His adversary the devil; but according to men's general opinion about providence, they are fate and necessity; and about fortune, it is man's freedom of will. Even the philosophers allow these distinctions; whilst on our part we have already undertaken to treat of them, on the principles of the (Christian) faith, in a separate work.(6) It is evident how great must be the influences which so variously affect the one nature of the soul, since they are commonly regarded as separate "natures." Still they are not different species, but casual incidents of one nature and substance--even of that which God conferred on Adam, and made the mould of all (subsequent ones). Casual incidents will they always remain, but never will they become!specific differences. However great, too, at present is the variety of men's maunders, it was not so in Adam, the founder of their race. But all these discordances ought to have existed in him as the fountainhead, and thence to have descended to us in an unimpaired variety, if the variety had been due to nature.
CHAP. XXI.--AS FREE-WILL ACTUATES AN INDIVIDUAL SO MAY HIS CHARACTER CHANGE.
Now, if the soul possessed this uniform and simple nature from the beginning in Adam, previous to so many mental dispositions (being developed out of it), it is not rendered multiform by suck various development, nor by the triple(7) form predicated of it in "the Valentinian trinity" (that we may still keep the condemnation of that heresy in view), for not even this nature is discoverable in Adam. What had he that was spiritual? Is it because he prophetically declared "the great mystery of Christ and the church?"(8) "This is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman. Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and he shall cleave unto his wife; and they two shall be one flesh."(9) But this (gift of prophecy) only came on him afterwards, when God infused into him the ecstasy, or spiritual quality, in which prophecy consists. If, again, the evil of sin was developed in him, this must not be accounted as a natural disposition: it was rather produced by the instigation of the (old) serpent as far from being incidental to his nature as it was from being material in him, for we have already excluded belief in "Matter."(10) Now, if neither the spiritual element, nor what the heretics call the material element, was properly inherent in him (since, if he had been created out of matter, the germ of evil must have been an integral part of his constitution), it remains that the one only original element of his nature was what is called the animal (the principle of vitality, the soul), which we maintain to be simple and uniform in its condition. Concerning this, it remains for us to inquire whether, as being called natural, it ought to be deemed subject to change. (The heretics whom we have referred to) deny that nature is susceptible of any change,(1) in order that they may be able to establish and settle their threefold theory, or "trinity," in all its characteristics as to the several natures, because "a good tree cannot produce evil fruit, nor a corrupt tree good fruit; and nobody gathers figs of thorns, nor grapes of brambles."(2) If so, then "God will not be able any longer to raise up from the stones children unto Abraham; nor to make a generation of vipers bring forth fruits of repentance."(3) And if so, the apostle too was in error when he said in his epistle, "Ye were at one time darkness, (but now are ye light in the Lord:)"(4) and, "We also were by nature children of wrath;"(5) and, "Such were some of you, but ye are washed."(6) The statements, however, of holy Scripture will never be discordant with truth. A corrupt tree will never yield good fruit, unless the better nature be grafted into it; nor will a good tree produce evil fruit, except by the same process of cultivation. Stones also will become children of Abraham, if educated in Abraham's faith; and a generation of vipers will bring forth the fruits of penitence, if they reject the poison of their malignant nature. This will be the power of the grace of God, more potent indeed than nature, exercising its sway over the faculty that underlies itself within us--even the freedom of our will, which is described as
CHAP. XXII.--RECAPITULATION. DEFINITION OF THE SOUL.
Hermogenes has already heard from us what are the other natural faculties of the soul, as well as their vindication and proof; whence it may be seen that the soul is rather the offspring of God than of matter. The names of these faculties shall here be simply repeated, that they may not seem to be forgotten and passed out of sight. We have assigned, then, to the soul both that freedom of the will which we just now mentioned, and its dominion over the works of nature, and its occasional gift of divination, independently of that endowment of prophecy which accrues to it expressly from the grace of God. We shall therefore now quit this subject of the soul's disposition, in order to set out fully in order its various qualities.(9) The soul, then, we define to be sprung from the breath of God, immortal, possessing body, having form, simple in its substance, intelligent in its own nature, developing its power in various ways, free in its determinations, subject to be changes of accident, in its faculties mutable, rational, supreme, endued with an instinct of presentiment, evolved out of one (archetypal soul). It remains for us now to consider how it is developed out of this one original source; in other words, whence, and when, and how it is produced.
CHAP. XXIII.--THE OPINIONS OF SUNDRY HERETICS WHICH ORIGINATE ULTIMATELY WITH PLATO.
Some suppose that they came down from heaven, with as firm a belief as they are apt to entertain, when they indulge in the prospect of an undoubted return thither. Saturninus, the disciple of Menander, who belonged to Simon's sect, introduced this opinion: he affirmed that man was made by angels. A futile, imperfect creation at first, weak and unable to stand, he crawled upon the ground like a worm, because he wanted the strength to maintain an erect posture; but afterwards having, by the compassion of the Supreme Power (in whose image, which had not been fully understood, he was clumsily formed), obtained a slender spark of life, this roused and righted his imperfect form, and animated it with a higher vitality, and provided for its return, on its relinquishment of life, to its original principle. Carpocrates, indeed, claims for himself so extreme an amount of the supernal qualities, that his disciples set their own souls at once on an equality with Christ (not to mention the apostles); and sometimes, when it suits their fancy, even give them the superiority--deeming them, forsooth, to have partaken of that sublime virtue which looks down upon the principalities that govern this world. Apelles tells us that our souls were enticed by earthly baits down from their super-celestial abodes by a fiery angel, Israel's God; and ours, who then enclosed them firmly within our sinful flesh. The hive of Valen-tinus fortifies the soul with the germ of Sophia, or Wisdom; by means of which germ they recognise, in the images of visible objects, the stories and Milesian fables of their own AEons. I am sorry from my heart that Plato has been the caterer to all these heretics. For in the Phoedo he imagines that souls wander from this world to that, and thence back again hither; whilst in the Timoeus he supposes that the children of God, to whom had been assigned the production of mortal creatures, having taken for the soul the germ of immortality, congealed around it a mortal body,--thereby indicating that this world is the figure of some other. Now, to procure belief in all this--that the soul had formerly lived with God in the heavens above, sharing His ideas with Him, and afterwards came down to live with us on earth, and whilst here recollects the eternal patterns of things which it had learnt before--he elaborated his new formula,
CHAP. XXIV.--PLATO'S INCONSISTENCY. HE SUPPOSES THE SOUL SELF-EXISTENT, YET CAPABLE OF FORGETTING WHAT PASSED IN A PREVIOUS STATE.
In the first place, I cannot allow that the soul is capable of a failure of memory; because he has conceded to it so large an amount of divine quality as to put it on a par with God. He makes it unborn, which single attribute I might apply as a sufficient attestation of its perfect divinity; he then adds that the soul is immortal, incorruptible, incorpo-real-since he believed God to be the same--invisible, incapable of delineation, uniform, supreme, rational, and intellectual. What more could he attribute to the soul, if he wanted to call it God? We, however, who allow no appendage to God(1) (in the sense of equality), by this very fact reckon the soul as very far below God: for we suppose it to be born, and hereby to possess something of a diluted divinity and an attenuated felicity, as the breath (of God), though not His spirit; and although immortal, as this is an attribute of divinity, yet for all that passible, since this is an incident of a born condition, and consequently from the first capable of deviation from perfection and right,(2) and by consequence susceptible of a failure in memory. This point I have discussed sufficienly with Hermogenes.(3) But it may be further observed, that if the soul is to merit being accounted a god, by reason of all its qualities being equal to the attributes of God, it must then be subject to no passion, and therefore to no loss of memory; for this defect of oblivion is as great an injury to that of which you predicate it, as memory is the glory thereof, which Plato himself deems the very safeguard of the senses and intellectual faculties, and which Cicero has designated the treasury of all the sciences. Now we need not raise the doubt whether so divine a faculty as the soul was capable of losing memory: the question rather is, whether it is able to recover afresh that which it has lost. I could not decide whether that, which ought to have lost memory, if it once incurred the loss, would be powerful enough to recollect itself, Both alternatives, indeed, will agree very well with my soul, but not with Plato's. In the second place, my objection to him will stand thus: (Plato,) do you endow the soul with a natural competency for understanding those well-known ideas of yours? Certainly I do, will be your answer. Well, now, no one will concede to you that the knowledge, (which you say is) the gift of nature, of the natural sciences can fail. But the knowledge of the sciences fails; the knowledge of the various fields of learning and of the arts of life fails; and so perhaps the knowledge of the faculties and affections of our minds fails, although they seem to be inherent in our nature, but really are not so: because, as we have already said,(1) they are affected by accidents of place, of manners and customs, of bodily condition, of the state of man's health--by the influences of the Supreme Powers, and the changes of man's free-will. Now the instinctive knowledge of natural objects never fails, not even in the brute creation. The lion, no doubt, will forget his ferocity, if surrounded by the softening influence of training; he may become, with his beautiful mane, the plaything of some Queen Berenice, and lick her cheeks with his tongue. A wild beast may lay aside his habits, but his natural instincts will not be forgotten. He will not forget his proper food, nor his natural resources, nor his natural alarms; and should the queen offer him fishes or cakes, he will wish for flesh; and if, when he is ill, any antidote be prepared for him, he will still require the ape; and should no hunting-spear be presented against him, he will yet dread the crow of the cock. In like manner with man, who is perhaps the most forgetful of all creatures, the knowledge of everything natural to him will remain in-eradicably fixed in him,--but this alone, as being alone a natural instinct. He will never forget to eat when he is hungry; or to drink when he is thirsty; or to use his eyes when he wants to see; or his ears, to hear; or his nose, to smell; or his mouth, to taste; or his hand, to touch. These are, to be sure, the senses, which philosophy depreciates by her preference for the intellectual faculties. But if the natural knowledge of the sensuous faculties is permanent, how happens it that the knowledge of the intellectual faculties fails, to which the superiority is ascribed? Whence, now, arises that power of forgetfulness itself which precedes recollection? From long lapse of time, he says. But this is a shortsighted answer. Length of time cannot be incidental to that which, according to him, is unborn, and which therefore must be deemed most certainly eternal. For that which is eternal, on the ground of its being unborn, since it admits neither of beginning nor end of time, is subject to no temporal criterion. And that which time does not measure, undergoes no change in consequence of time; nor is long lapse of time at all influential over it. If time is a cause of oblivion, why, from the time of the soul's entrance into the body, does memory fail, as if thenceforth the soul were to be affected by time? for the soul, being undoubtedly prior to the body, was of course not irrespective of time. Is it, indeed, immediately on the soul's entrance into the body that oblivion takes place, or some time afterwards? If immediately, where will be the long lapse of the time which is as yet inadmissible in the hypothesis?(2) Take, for instance, the case of the infant. If some time afterwards, will not the soul, during the interval previous to the moment of oblivion, Still exercise its powers of memory? And how comes it to pass that the soul subsequently forgets, and then afterwards again remembers? How long, too, must the lapse of the time be regarded as having been, during which the oblivion oppressed the soul? The whole course of one's life, I apprehend, will be insufficient to efface the memory of an age which endured so long before the soul's assumption of the body. But then, again, Plato throws the blame upon the body, as if it were at all credible that a born substance could extinguish the power of one that is unborn. There exist, however, among bodies a great many differences, by reason of their rationality, their bulk, their condition, their age, and their health. Will there then be supposed to exist similar differences in obliviousness? Oblivion, however, is uniform and identical. Therefore bodily peculiarity, with its manifold varieties, will not become the cause of an effect which is an invariable one. There are likewise, according to Plato's own testimony, many proofs to show that the soul has a divining faculty, as we have already advanced against Hermogenes. But there is not a man living, who does not himself feel his soul possessed with a presage and augury of some omen, danger, or joy. Now, if the body is not prejudicial to divination, it will not, I suppose, be injurious to memory. One thing is certain, that souls in the same body both forget and remember. If any corporeal condition engenders forgetfulness, how will it admit the opposite state of recollection? Because recollection, after forgetfulness, is actually the resurrection of the memory. Now, how should not that which is hostile to the memory at first, be also prejudicial to it in the second instance? Lastly, who have better memories than little children, with their fresh, unworn souls, not yet immersed in domestic and public cares, but devoted only to those studies the acquirement of which is itself a reminiscence? Why, indeed, do we not all of us recollect in an equal degree, since we are equal in our forgetfulness? But this is true only of philosophers! But not even of the whole of them. Amongst so many nations, in so great a crowd of sages, Plato, to be sure, is the only man who has combined the oblivion and the recollection of ideas. Now, since this main argument of his by no means keeps its ground, it follows that its entire superstructure must fall with it,namely, that souls are supposed to be unborn, and to live in the heavenly regions, and to be instructed in the divine mysteries thereof; moreover, that they descend to this earth, and here recall to memory their previous; existence, for the purpose, of course, of supplying to our heretics the fitting materials for their systems.
CHAP. XXV.--TERTULLIAN REFUTES, PHYSIOLOGICALLY, THE NOTION THAT THE SOUL IS INTRODUCED AFTER BIRTH.
I shall now return to the cause of this digression, in order that I may explain how all souls are derived from one, when and where and in what manner they are produced. Now, touching this subject, it matters not whether the question be started by the philosopher, by the heretic, or by the crowd. Those who profess the truth care nothing about their opponents, especially such of them as begin by maintaining that the soul is not conceived in the womb, nor is formed and produced at the time that the flesh is moulded, but is impressed from without upon the infant before his complete vitality, but after the process of parturition. They say, moreover, that the human seed having been duly deposited ex concubiter in the womb, and having been by natural impulse quickened, it becomes condensed into the mere substance of the flesh, which is in due time born, warm from the furnace of the womb, and then released from its heat. (This flesh) resembles the case of hot iron, which is in that state plunged into cold water; for, being smitten by the cold air (into which it is born), it at once receives the power of animation, and utters vocal sound. This view is entertained by the Stoics, along with AEnesidemus, and occasionally by Plato himself, when he tells us that the soul, being quite a separate formation, originating elsewhere and externally to the womb, is inhaled(1) when the new-born infant first draws breath, and by and by exhaled(2) with the man's latest breath. We shall see whether this view of his is merely fictitious. Even the medical profession has not lacked its Hicesius, to prove a traitor both to nature and his own calling. These gentlemen, I suppose, were too modest to come to terms with women on the mysteries of childbirth, so well known to the latter. But how much more is there for them to blush at, when in the end they have the women to refute them, instead of commending them. Now, in such a question as this, no one can be so useful a teacher, judge, or witness, as the sex itself which is so intimately concerned. Give us your testimony, then, ye mothers, whether yet pregnant, or after delivery (let barren women and men keep silence),--the truth of your own nature is in question, the reality of your own suffering is the point to be decided. (Tell us, then,) whether you feel in the embryo within you any vital force(3) other than your own, with which your bowels tremble, your sides shake, your entire womb throbs, and the burden which oppresses you constantly changes its position? Are these movements a joy to you, and a positive removal of anxiety, as making you confident that your infant both possesses vitality and enjoys it? Or, should his restlessness cease, your first fear would be for him; and he would be aware of it within you, since he is disturbed at the novel sound; and you would crave for injurious diet,(4) or would even loathe your food--all on his account; and then you and he, (in the closeness of your sympathy,) would share together your common ailments--so far that with your contusions and bruises would he actually become marked,--whilst within you, and even on the selfsame parts of the body, taking to himself thus peremptorily(5) the injuries of his mother! Now, whenever a livid hue and redness are incidents of the blood, the blood will not be without the vital principle,(6) or soul; or when disease attacks the soul or vitality, (it becomes a proof of its real existence, since) there is no disease where there is no soul or principle of life. Again, inasmuch as sustenance by food, and the want thereof, growth and decay, fear and motion, are conditions of the soul or life, he who experiences them must be alive.
And, so, he at last ceases to live, who ceases to experience them. And thus by and by infants are still-born; but how so, unless they had life? For how could any die, who had not previously lived? But sometimes by a cruel necessity, whilst yet in the womb, an infant is put to death, when lying awry in the orifice of the womb he impedes parturition, and kills his mother, if he is not to die himself. Accordingly, among surgeons' tools there is a certain instrument, which is formed with a nicely-adjusted flexible frame for opening the uterus first of all, and keeping it open; it is further furnished with an annular blade,(1) by means of which the limbs within the womb are dissected with anxious but unfaltering care; its last appendage being a blunted or covered hook, wherewith the entire foetus is extracted(2) by a violent delivery. There is also (another instrument in the shape of) a copper needle or spike, by which the actual death is managed in this furtive robbery of life: they give it, from its infanticide function, the name of
CHAP. XXVI.--SCRIPTURE ALONE OFFERS CLEAR KNOWLEDGE ON THE QUESTIONS WE HAVE BEEN CONTROVERTING.
Now there is no end to the uncertainty and irregularity of human opinion, until we come to the limits which God has prescribed. I shall at last retire within our own lines and firmly hold my ground there, for the purpose of proving to the Christian (the soundness of) my answers to the Philosophers and the Physicians. Brother (in Christ), on your own foundation(1) build up your faith. Consider the wombs of the most sainted women instinct with the life within them, and their babes which not only breathed therein, but were even endowed with prophetic intuition. See how the bowels of Rebecca are disquieted,(2) though her child-bearing is as yet remote, and there is no impulse of (vital) air. Behold, a twin offspring chafes within the mother's womb, although she has no sign as yet of the twofold nation. Possibly we might have regarded as a prodigy the contention of this infant progeny, which struggled before it lived, which had animosity previous to animation, if it had simply disturbed the mother by its restlessness within her. But when her womb opens, and the number of her offspring is seen, and their presaged condition known, we have presented to us a proof not merely of the (separate) souls of the infants, but of their hostile struggles too. He who was the first to be born was threatened with detention by him who was anticipated in birth, who was not yet fully brought forth, but whose hand only had been born. Now if he actually imbibed life, and received his soul, in Platonic style, at his first breath; or else, after the Stoic rule, had the earliest taste of animation on touching the frosty air; what was the other about, who was so eagerly looked for, who was still detained within the womb, and was trying to detain (the other) outside? I suppose he had not yet breathed when he seized his brother's heel;(3) and was still warm with his mother's warmth, when he so strongly wished to be the first to quit the womb. What an infant! so emulous, so strong, and already so contentious; and all this, I suppose, because even now full of life! Consider, again, those extraordinary conceptions, which were more wonderful still, of the barren woman and the virgin: these women would only be able to produce imperfect offspring against the course of nature, from the very fact that one of them was too old to bear seed, and the other was pure from the contact of man. If there was to be bearing at all in the case, it was only fitting that they should be born without a soul, (as the philosopher would say,) who had been irregularly conceived. However, even these have life, each of them in his mother's womb. Elizabeth exults with joy, (for) John had leaped in her womb;(4) Mary magnifies the Lord, (for) Christ had instigated her within.(5) The mothers recognise each their own offspring, being moreover each recognised by their infants, which were therefore of course alive, and were not souls merely, but spirits also. Accordingly you read the word of God which was spoken to Jeremiah, "Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee."(6) Since God forms us in the womb, He also breathes upon us, as He also did at the first creation, when "the Lord God formed man, and breathed into him the breath of life."(7) Nor could God have known man in the womb, except in his entire nature: "And before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee."(8) Well, was it then a dead body at that early stage? Certainly not. For "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
CHAP. XXVII.--SOUL AND BODY CONCEIVED, FORMED AND PERFECTED IN ELEMENT SIMULTANEOUSLY.
How, then, is a living being conceived? Is the substance of both body and soul formed together at one and the same time? Or does one of them precede the other in natural formation? We indeed maintain that both are conceived, and formed, and perfectly simultaneously, as well as born together; and that not a moment's interval occurs in their conception, so that, a prior place can be assigned to either.(9) Judge, in fact, of the incidents of man's earliest existence by those which occur to him at the very last. As death is defined to be nothing else than the separation of body and soul,(10) life, which is the opposite of death, is susceptible of no other definition than the conjunction of body and soul. If the severance happens at one and the same time to both substances by means of death, so the law of their combination ought to assure us that it occurs simultaneously to the two substances by means of life. Now we allow that life begins with conception, because we contend that the soul also begins from conception; life taking its commencement at the same moment and place that the soul does. Thus, then, the processes which act together to produce separation by death, also combine in a simultaneous action to produce life. If we assign priority to (the formation of) one of the natures, and a subsequent time to the other, we shall have further to determine the precise times of the semination, according to the condition and rank of each. And that being so, what time shall we give to the seed of the body, and what to the seed of the soul? Besides, if different periods are to be assigned to the seminations then arising out of this difference in time, we shall also have different substances.(1) For although we shall allow that there are two kinds of seed--that of the body and that of the soul--we still declare that they are inseparable, and therefore contemporaneous and simultaneous in origin. Now let no one take offence or feel ashamed at an interpretation of the processes of nature which is rendered necessary (by the defence of the truth). Nature should be to us an object of reverence, not of blushes. It is lust, not natural usage, which has brought shame on the intercourse of the sexes. It is the excess, not the normal state, which is immodest and unchaste: the normal condition has received a blessing from God, and is blest by Him: "Be fruitful, and multiply, (and replenish the earth.)"(2) Excess, however, has He cursed, in adulteries, and wantonness, and chambering.(3) Well, now, in this usual function of the sexes which brings together the male and the female in their common intercourse, we know that both the soul and the flesh discharge a duty together: the soul supplies desire, the flesh contributes the gratification of it; the soul furnishes the instigation, the flesh affords the realization. The entire man being excited by the one effort of both natures, his seminal substance is discharged, deriving its fluidity from the body, and its warmth from the soul. Now if the soul in Greek is a word which is synonymous with cold,(4) how does it come to pass that the body grows cold after the soul has quitted it? Indeed (if I run the risk of offending modesty even, in my desire to prove the truth), I cannot help asking, whether we do not, in that very heat of extreme gratification when the generative fluid is ejected, feel that somewhat of our soul has gone from us? And do we not experience a faintness and prostration along with a dimness of sight? This, then, must be the soul-producing seed, which arises at once from the out-drip of the soul, just as that fluid is the body-producing seed which proceeds from the drainage of the flesh. Most true are the examples of the first creation. Adam's flesh was formed of clay. Now what is clay bug an excellent moisture, whence should spring the generating fluid? From the breath of God first came the soul. But what else is the breath of God than the vapour of the spirit, whence should spring that which we breathe out through the generative fluid? Forasmuch, therefore, as these two different and separate substances, the clay and the breath, combined at the first creation in forming the individual man, they then both amalgamated and mixed their proper seminal rudiments in one, and ever afterwards communicated to the human race the normal mode of its propagation, so that even now the two substances, although diverse from each other, flow forth simultaneously in a united channel; and finding their way together into their appointed seed-plot, they fertilize with their combined vigour the human fruit out of their respective natures. And inherent in this human product is his own seed, according to the process which has been ordained for every creature endowed with the functions of generation. Accordingly from the one (primeval) man comes the entire outflow and redundance of men's souls--nature proving herself true to the commandment of God, "Be fruitful, and multiply."(5) For in the very preamble of this one production, "Let us make man,"(6) man's whole posterity was declared and described in a plural phrase, "Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea," etc.(7) And no wonder: in the seed lies the promise and earnest of the crop.
CHAP. XXVIII.--THE PYTHAGOREAN DOCTRINE OF TRANSMIGRATION SKETCHED AND CENSURED.
What, then, by this time means that ancient saying, mentioned by Plato,(8) concerning the reciprocal migration of souls; how they remove hence and go thither, and then return hither and pass through life, and then again depart from this life, and afterwards become alive from the dead? Some will have it that this is a saying of Pythagoras; Albinus supposes it to be a divine announcement, perhaps of the Egyptian Mercury.(9) But there is no divine saying, except of the one true God, by whom the prophets, and the apostles, and Christ Himself declared their grand message. More ancient than Saturn a good deal (by some nine hundred years or so), and even than his grandchildren, is Moses; and he is certainly much more divine, recounting and tracing out, as he does, the course of the human race from the very beginning of the world, indicating the several births (of the fathers of mankind) according to their names and their epochs; giving thus plain proof of the divine character of his work, from its divine authority and word. If, indeed, the sophist of Samos is Plato's authority for the eternally revolving migration of souls out of a constant alternation of the dead and the living states, then no doubt did the famous Pythagoras, however excellent in other respects, for the purpose of fabricating such an opinion as this, rely on a falsehood, which was not only shameful, but also hazardous. Consider it, you that are ignorant of it, and believe with us. He feigns death, he conceals himself underground, he condemns himself to that endurance for some seven years, during which he learns from his mother, who was his sole accomplice and attendant, what he was to relate for the belief of the world concerning those who had died since his seclusion;(1) and when he thought that he had succeeded in reducing the frame of his body to the horrid appearance of a dead old man, he comes forth from the place of his concealment and deceit, and pretends to have returned from the dead. Who would hesitate about believing that the man, whom he had supposed to have died, was come back again to life? especially after hearing from him facts about the recently dead,(1) which he evidently could only have discovered in Hades itself! Thus, that men are made alive after death, is rather an old statement. But what if it be rather a recent one also? The truth does not desire antiquity, nor does falsehood shun novelty. This notable saying I hold to be plainly false, though ennobled by antiquity. How should that not be false, which depends for its evidence on a falsehood?--How can I help believing Pythagoras to be a deceiver, who practises deceit to win my belief? How will he convince me that, before he was Pythagoras, he had been AEthalides, and Euphorbus, and the fisherman Pyrrhus, and Hermotimus, to make us believe that men live again after they have died, when he actually perjured himself afterwards as Pythagoras. In proportion as it would be easier for me to believe that he had returned once to life in his own person, than so often in the person of this man and that, in the same degree has he deceived me in things which are too hard to be credited, because he has played the impostor in matters which might be readily believed. Well, but he recognised the shield of Euphorbus, which had been formerly consecrated at Delphi, and claimed it as his own, and proved his claim by signs which were generally unknown. Now, look again at his subterranean lurking-place, and believe his story, if you can. For, as to the man who devised such a tricksty scheme, to the injury of his health, fraudulently wasting his life, and torturing it for seven years underground, amidst hunger, idleness, and darkness--with a profound disgust for the mighty sky--what reckless effort would he not make, what curious contrivance would he not attempt, to arrive at the discovery of this famous shield? Suppose now, that he found it in some of those hidden researches; suppose that he recovered some slight breath of report which survived the now obsolete tradition; suppose him to have come to the knowledge of it by an inspection which he had bribed the beadle to let him have,--we know very well what are the resources of magic skill for exploring hidden secrets: there are the catabolic spirits, which floor their victims;(2) and the paredral spirits, which are ever at their side(3) to haunt them; and the pythonic spirits, which entrance them by their divination and ventriloquistic(4) arts. For was is not likely that Pherecydes also, the master of our Pythagoras, used to divine, or I would rather say rave and dream, by such arts and contrivances as these? Might not the self-same demon have been in him, who, whilst in Euphorbus, transacted deeds of blood? But lastly, why is it that the man, who proved himself to have been uphorbus by the evidence of the shield, did not also recognise any of his former Trojan comrades? For they, too, must by this time have recovered life, since men were rising again from the dead: