CHAP, XXIX.--THE PYTHAGOREAN DOCTRINE REFUTED BY ITS OWN FIRST PRINCIPLE, THAT LIVING MEN ARE FORMED FROM THE DEAD.
It is indeed, manifest that dead men are formed from living ones; but it does not follow from that, that living men are formed from dead ones. For from the beginning the living came first in the order of things, and therefore also from the beginning the dead came afterwards in order. But these proceeded from no other source except from the living. The living had their origin in any other source (you please) than in the dead; whilst the dead had no source whence to derive their beginning, except from the living. If, then, from the very first the living came not from the dead, why should they afterwards (be said to) come from the dead? Had that original source, whatever it was, come to an end? Was the form or law thereof a matter for regret? Then why was it preserved in the case of the dead? Does it not follow that, because the dead came from the living at the first, therefore they always came from the living? For either the law which obtained at the beginning must have continued in both of its relations, or else it must have changed in both; so that, if it had become necessary for the living afterwards to proceed from the dead, it would be necessary, in like manner, for the dead also not to proceed from the living. For if a faithful adherence to the institution was not meant to be perpetuated in each respect, then contraries cannot in due alternation continue to be re-formed from contraries. We, too, will on our side adduce against you certain contraries, of the born and the unborn, of vision(1) and blindness, of youth and old age, of wisdom and folly. Now it does not follow that the unborn proceeds from the born, on the ground that a contrary issues from a contrary; nor, again, that vision proceeds from blindness, because blindness happens to vision; nor, again, that youth revives from old age, because after youth comes the decrepitude of senility; nor that folly(2) is born with its obtuseness from wisdom, because wisdom may possibly be sometimes sharpened out of folly. Albinus has some fears for his (master and friend) Plato in these points, and labours with much ingenuity to distinguish different kinds of contraries; as if these instances did not as absolutely partake of the nature of contrariety as those which are expounded by him to illustrate his great master's principle--I mean, life and death. Nor is it, for the matter of that, true that life is restored out of death, because it happens that death succeeds(3) life.
CHAP. XXX.--FURTHER REFUTATION OF THE PYTHAGOREAN THEORY. THE STATE OF CONTEMPORARY CIVILISATION.
But what must we say in reply to what follows? For, in the first place, if the living come from the dead, just as the dead proceed from the living, then there must always remain unchanged one and the selfsame number of mankind, even the number which originally introduced (human) life. The living preceded the dead, afterwards the dead issued from the living, and then again the living from the dead. Now, since this process was evermore going on with the same persons, therefore they, issuing from the same, must always have remained in number the same. For they who emerged (into life) could never have become more nor fewer than they who disappeared (in death). We find, however, in the records of the Antiquities of Man,(4) that the human race has progressed with a gradual growth of population, either occupying different portions of the earth as aborigines, or as nomade tribes, or as exiles, or as conquerors--as the Scythians in Parthia, the Temenidae in Peloponnesus, the Athenians in Asia, the Phrygians in Italy, and the Phoenicians in Africa; or by the more ordinary methods of emigration, which they call
CHAP. XXXI.--FURTHER EXPOSURE OF TRANSMIGRATION, ITS INEXTRICABLE EMBARRASSMENT.
Again, if this recovery of life from the dead take place at all, individuals must of course resume their own individuality. Therefore the souls which animated each several body must needs have returned separately to their several bodies. Now, whenever two, or three, or five souls are re-enclosed (as they constantly are) in one womb, it will not amount in such cases to life from the dead, because there is not the separate restitution which individuals ought to have; although at this rate, (no doubt,) the law of the primeval creation is signally kept,(1) by the production still of several souls out of only one! Then, again, if souls depart at different ages of human life, how is it that they come back again at one uniform age? For all men are imbued with an infant soul at their birth. But how happens it that a man who dies in old age returns to life as an infant? If the soul, whilst disembodied, decreases thus by retrogression of its age, how much more reasonable would it be, that it should resume its life with a richer progress in all attainments of life after the lapse of a thousand years! At all events, it should return with the age it had attained at its death, that it might resume the precise life which it had relinquished. But even if, at this rate, they should reappear the same evermore in their revolving cycles, it would be proper for them to bring back with them, if not the selfsame forms of body, at least their original peculiarities of character, taste, and disposition, because it would be hardly possible(2) for them to be regarded as the same, if they were deficient in those characteristics by means of which their identity should be proved. (You, however, meet me with this question): How can you possibly know, you ask, whether all is not a secret process? may not the work of a thousand years take from you the power of recognition, since they return unknown to you? But I am quite certain that such is not the case, for you yourself present Pythagoras to me as (the restored) Euphorbus. Now look at Euphorbus: he was evidently possessed of a military and warlike soul, as is proved by the very renown of the sacred shields. As for Pythagoras, however, he was such a recluse, and so unwarlike, that he shrank from the military exploits of which Greece was then so full, and preferred to devote himself, in the quiet retreat of Italy, to the study of geometry, and astrology, and music--the very opposite to Euphorbus in taste and disposition. Then, again, the Pyrrhus (whom he represented) spent his time in catching fish; but Pythagoras, on the contrary, would never touch fish, abstaining from even the taste of them as from animal food. Moreover, AEthalides and Hermotimus had included the bean amongst the common esculents at meals, while Pythagoras taught his disciples not even to pass through a plot which was cultivated with beans. I ask, then, how the same souls are resumed, which can offer no proof of their identity, either by their disposition, or habits, or living? And now, after all, (we find that) only four souls are mentioned as recovering life(3) out of all the multitudes of Greece. But limiting ourselves merely to Greece, as if no transmigrations of souls and resumptions of bodies occurred, and that every day, in every nation, and amongst all ages, ranks, and sexes, how is it that Pythagoras alone experiences these changes into one personality and another? Why should not I too undergo them? Or if it be a privilege monopolized by philosophers--and Greek philosophers only, as if Scythians and Indians had no philosophers--how is it that Epicurus had no recollection that he had been once another man, nor Chrysippus, nor Zeno, nor indeed Plato himself, whom we might perhaps have supposed to have been Nestor, from his honeyed eloquence?
CHAP. XXXII.--EMPEDOCLES INCREASED THE ABSURDITY OF PYTHAGORAS BY DEVELOPING THE POSTHUMOUS CHANGE OF MEN INTO VARIOUS ANIMALS.
But the fact is, Empedocles, who used to dream that he was a god, and on that account, I suppose, disdained to have it thought that he had ever before been merely some hero, declares in so many words: "I once was Thamnus, and a fish." Why not rather a melon, seeing that he was such a fool; or a cameleon, for his inflated brag? It was, no doubt, as a fish (and a queer one too!) that he escaped the corruption of some obscure grave, when he preferred being roasted by a plunge into AEtna; after which accomplishment there was an end for ever to his
CHAP. XXXIII.--THE JUDICIAL RETRIBUTION OF THESE MIGRATIONS REFUTED WITH RAILLERY.
Forasmuch as this doctrine is vindicated even on the principle of judicial retribution, on the pretence that the souls of men obtain as their partners the kind of animals which are suited to their life and deserts,--as if they ought to be, according to their several characters, either slain in criminals destined to execution, or reduced to hard work in menials, or fatigued and wearied in labourers, or foully disgraced in the unclean; or, again, on the same principle, reserved for honour, and love, and care, and attentive regard in characters most eminent in, rank and virtue, usefulness, and tender sensibility,--I must here also remark, that if souls undergo a transformation, they will actually not be able to accomplish and experience the destinies which they shall deserve; and the aim and purpose of judicial recompense will be brought to nought, as there will be wanting the sense and consciousness of merit and retribution. And there must be this want of consciousness, if souls lose their condition; and there must ensue this loss, if they do not continue in one stay. But even if they should have permanency enough to remain unchanged until the judgment,--a point which Mercurius AEgyptius recognised, when he said that the soul, after its separation from the body, was not dissipated back into the soul of the universe, but retained permanently its distinct individuality, "in order that it might render," to use his own words, "an account to the Father of those things which it has done in the body;" --(even supposing all this, I say,) I still want to examine the justice, the solemnity, the majesty, and the dignity of this reputed judgment of God, and see whether human judgment has not too elevated a throne in it--exaggerated in both directions, in its office both of punishments and rewards, too severe in dealing out its vengeance, and too lavish in bestowing its favour. What do you suppose will become of the soul of the murderer? (It will animate), I suppose, some cattle destined for the slaughter-house and the shambles, that it may itself be killed, even as it has killed; and be itself flayed, since it has fleeced others; and be itself used for food, since it has cast to the wild beasts the ill-fated victims whom it once slew in woods and lonely roads. Now, if such be the judicial retribution which it is to receive, is not such a soul likely to find more of consolation than of punishment, in the fact that it receives its coup de grace from the hands of most expert practitioners--is buried with condiments served in the most piquant styles of an Apicius or a Lurco, is introduced to the tables of your exquisite Ciceros, is brought up on the most splendid dishes of a Sylla, finds its obsequies in a banquet, is devoured by respectable (mouths) on a par with itself, rather than by kites and wolves, so that all may see how it has got a man's body for its tomb, and has risen again after returning to its own kindred race--exulting in the face of human judgments, if it has experienced them? For these barbarous sentences of death consign to various wild beasts, which are selected and trained even against their nature for their horrible office the criminal who has committed murder, even while yet alive; nay, hindered from too easily dying, by a contrivance which retards his last moment in order to aggravate his punishment. But even if his soul should have anticipated by its departure the sword's last stroke, his body at all events must not escape the weapon: retribution for his own crime is yet exacted by stabbing his throat and stomach, and piercing his side. After that he is flung into the fire, that his very grave may be cheated.(1) In no other way, indeed, is a sepulture allowed him. Not that any great care, after all, is bestowed on his pyre, so that other animals light upon his remains. At any rate, no mercy is shown to his bones, no indulgence to his ashes, which must be punished with exposure and nakedness. The vengeance which is inflicted among men upon the homicide is really as great as that which is imposed by nature. Who would not prefer the justice of the world, which, as the apostle himself testifies, "beareth not the sword in vain,"(2) and which is an institute of religion when it severely avenges in defence of human life? When we contemplate, too, the penalties awarded to other crimes--gibbets, and holocausts, and sacks, and harpoons, and precipices--who would not think it better to receive his sentence in the courts of Pythagoras and Empedocles? For even the wretches whom they will send into the bodies of asses and mules to be punished by drudgery and slavery, how will they congratulate themselves on the mild labour of the mill and the water-wheel, when they recollect the mines, and the convict-gangs, and the public works, and even the prisons and black-holes, terrible in their idle, do-nothing routine? Then, again, in the case of those who, after a course of integrity, have surrendered their life to the Judge, I likewise look for rewards, but I rather discover punishments. To be sure, it must be a handsome gain for good men to be restored to life in any animals whatsoever! Homer, so dreamt Ennius, remembered that he was once a peacock; however, I cannot for my part believe poets, even when wide awake. A peacock, no doubt, is a very pretty bird, pluming itself, at will, on its splendid feathers; Jut then its wings do not make amends for its voice, which is harsh and unpleasant; and there is nothing that poets like better than a good song. His transformation, therefore, into a peacock was to Homer a penalty, not an honour. The world's remuneration will bring him a much greater joy, when it lauds him as the father of the liberal sciences; and he will prefer the ornaments of his fame to the graces of his tail! But never mind! let poets migrate into peacocks, or into swans, if you like, especially as swans have a respectable voice: in what animal will you invest that righteous hero AEacus? In what beast will you clothe the chaste and excellent Dido? What bird shall fall to the lot of Patience? what animal to the lot of Holiness? what fish to that of Innocence? Now all creatures are the servants of man; all are his subjects, all his dependants. If by and by he is to become one of these creatures, he is by such a change debased and degraded he to whom, for his virtues, images, statues, and titles are freely awarded as public honours and distinguished privileges, he to Whom the senate and the people vote even sacrifices! Oh, what judicial sentences for gods to pronounce, as men's recompense after death! They are more mendacious than any human judgments; they are contemptible as punishments, disgusting as rewards; such as the worst of men could never fear, nor the best desire; such indeed, as criminals will aspire to, rather than saints,--the former, that they may escape more speedily the world's stern sentence,--the latter that they may more tardily incur it. How well, (forsooth), O ye philosophers do you teach us, and how usefully do you advise us, that after death rewards and punishments fall with lighter weight! whereas, if any judgment awaits souls at all, it ought rather to be supposed that it will be heavier at the conclusion of life than in the conduct(1) thereof, since nothing is more complete than that which comes at the very last--nothing, moreover, is more complete than that which is especially divine. Accordingly, God's judgment will be more full and complete, because it will be pronounced at the very last, in an eternal irrevocable sentence, both of punishment and of consolation, (on men whose) souls are not to transmigrate into beasts, but are to return into their own proper bodies. And all this once for all, and on "that day, too, of which the Father only knoweth;"(2) (only knoweth,) in order that by her trembling expectation faith may make full trial of her anxious sincerity, keeping her gaze ever fixed on that day, in her perpetual ignorance of it, daily fearing that for which she yet daily hopes.
CHAP. XXXIV.--THESE VAGARIES STIMULATED SOME PROFANE CORRUPTIONS OF CHRISTIANITY. THE PROFANITY OF SIMON MAGUS CONDEMNED.
No tenet, indeed, under cover of any heresy has as yet burst upon us, embodying any such extravagant fiction as that the souls of human beings pass into the bodies of wild beasts; but yet we have deemed it necessary to attack and refute this conceit, as a consistent sequel to the preceding opinions, in order that Homer in the peacock might be got rid of as effectually as Pythagoras in Euphorbus; and in order that, by the demolition of the metempsychosis and metensomatosis by the same blow, the Found might be cut away which has furnished no inconsiderable support to our heretics. There is the (infamous) Simon of Samaria in the Acts of the Apostles, who chaffered for the Holy Ghost: after his condemnation by Him, and a vain remorse that he and his money must perish together,(3) he applied his energies to the destruction of the truth, as if to console himself with revenge. Besides the support with which his own magic arts furnished him, he had recourse to imposture, and purchased a Tyrian woman of the name of Helen out of a brothel, with the same money which he had offered for the Holy Spirit,--a traffic worthy of the wretched man. He actually reigned himself to be the Supreme Father, and further pretended that the woman was his own primary conception, wherewith he had purposed the creation of the angels and the archangels; that after she was possessed of this purpose she sprang forth from the Father and descended to the lower spaces, and there anticipating the Father's design had produced the angelic powers, which knew nothing of the Father, the Creator of this world; that she was detained a prisoner by these from a (rebellious) motive very like her own, lest after her departure from them they should appear to be the offspring of another being; and that, after being on this account exposed to every insult, to prevent her leaving them anywhere after her dishonour, she was degraded even to the form of man, to be confined, as it were, in the bonds of the flesh. Having during many ages wallowed about in one female shape and another, she became the notorious Helen who was so ruinous to Priam, and afterwards to the eyes of Stesichorus, whom, she blinded in revenge for his lampoons, and then restored to sight to reward him for his eulogies. After wandering about in this way from body to body, she, in her final disgrace, turned out a viler Helen still as a professional prostitute. This wench, therefore, was the lost sheep, upon whom the Supreme Father, even Simon, descended, who, after he had recovered her and brought her back--whether on his shoulders or loins I cannot tell--cast an eye on the salvation of man, in order to gratify his spleen by liberating them from the angelic powers. Moreover, to deceive these he also himself assumed a visible shape; and reigning the appearance of a man amongst men, he acted the part of the Son in Judea, and of the Father in Samaria. O hapless Helen, what a hard fate is yours between the poets and the heretics, who have blackened your fame sometimes with adultery, sometimes with prostitution! Only her rescue from Troy is a more glorious affair than her extrication from the brothel. There were a thousand ships to remove her from Troy; a thousand pence were probably more than enough to withdraw her from the stews. Fie on you, Simon, to be so tardy in seeking her out, and so inconstant in ransoming her! How different from Menelaus! As soon as he has lost her, he goes in pursuit of her; she is no sooner ravished than he begins his search; after a ten years' conflict he boldly rescues her: there is no lurking, no deceiving, no cavilling. I am really afraid that he was a much better "Father," who laboured so much more vigilantly, bravely, and perseveringly, about the recovery of his Helen.
CHAP. XXXV.--THE OPINIONS OF CARPOCRATES, ANOTHER OFFSET FROM THE PYTHAGOREAN DOGMAS, STATED AND CONFUTED.
However, it is not for you alone, (Simon), that the transmigration philosophy has fabricated this story. Carpocrates also makes equally good use of it, who was a magician and a fornicator like yourself, only he had not a Helen.(1) And why should he not? since he asserted that souls are reinvested with bodies, in order to ensure the overthrow by all means of divine and human truth. For, (according to his miserable doctrine,) this life became consummated to no man until all those blemishes which are held to disfigure it have been fully displayed in its conduct; because there is nothing which is accounted evil by nature, but simply as men think of it. The transmigration of human souls, therefore, into any kind of heterogeneous bodies, he thought by all means indispensable, whenever any depravity whatever had not been fully perpetrated in the early stage of life's passage. Evil deeds (one may be sure) appertain to life. Moreover, as often as the soul has fallen short as a defaulter in sin, it has to be recalled to existence, until it "pays the utmost farthing,"(2) thrust out from time to time into the prison of the body. To this effect does he tamper with the whole of that allegory of the Lord which is extremely clear and simple in its meaning, and ought to be from the first understood in its plain and natural sense. Thus our "adversary" (therein mentioned(3) ) is the heathen man, who is walking with us along the same road of life which is common to him and ourselves. Now "we must needs go out of the world,"(4) if it be not allowed us to have conversation with them. He bids us, therefore, show a kindly disposition to such a man. "Love your enemies," says He, "pray for them that curse you,"(5) lest such a man in any transaction of business be irritated by any unjust conduct of yours, and "deliver thee to the judge" of his own (nation(6)), and you be thrown into prison, and be detained in its close and narrow cell until you have liquidated all your debt against him.(7) Then, again, should you be disposed to apply the term "adversary" to the devil, you are advised by the (Lord's) injunction, while you are in the way with him," to make even with him such a compact as may be deemed compatible with the requirements of your true faith. Now the compact you have made respecting him is to renounce him, and his pomp, and his angels. Such is your agreement in this matter. Now the friendly understanding you will have to carry out must arise from your observance of the compact: you must never think of getting back any of the things which you have abjured, and have restored to him, lest he should summon you as a fraudulent man, and a transgressor of your agreement, before God the Judge (for in this light do we read of him, in another passage, as "the accuser of the brethren,"(8) or saints, where reference is made to the actual practice of legal prosecution); and lest this Judge deliver you over to the angel who is to execute the sentence, and he commit you to the prison of hell, out of which there will be no dismissal until the smallest even of your delinquencies be paid off in the period before the resurrection.(9) What can be a more fitting sense than this? What a truer interpretation? If, however, according to Carpocrates, the soul is bound to the commission of all sorts of crime and evil conduct, what must we from his system understand to be its "adversary" and foe? I suppose it must be that better mind which shall compel it by force to the performance of some act of virtue, that it may be driven from body to body, until it be found in none a debtor to the claims of a virtuous life. This means, that a good tree is known by its bad fruit--in other words, that the doctrine of truth is understood from the worst possible precepts. I apprehend(10) that heretics of this school seize with especial avidity the example of Elias, whom they assume to have been so reproduced in John (the Baptist) as to make our Lord's statement sponsor for their theory of transmigration, when He said, "Elias is come already, and they knew him not;"(11) and again, in another passage, "And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come."(12) Well, then, was it really in a Pythagorean sense that the Jews approached John with the inquiry, "Art thou Elias?"(13) and not rather in the sense of the divine prediction, "Behold, I will send you Elijah" the Tisbite?(1) The fact, however, is, that their metempsychosis, or transmigration theory, signifies the recall of the soul which had died long before, and its return to some other body. But Elias is to come again, not after quitting life (in the way of dying), but after his translation (or removal without dying); not for the purpose of being restored to the body, from which he had not departed, but for the purpose of revisiting the world from which he was translated; not by way of resuming a life which he had laid aside, but of fulfilling prophecy,--really and truly the same man, both in respect of his name and designation, as well as of his unchanged humanity. How, therefore could John be Elias? You have your answer in the angel's announcement: "And he shall go before the people," says he, "in the spirit and power of Elias"--not (observe) in his soul and his body. These substances are, in fact, the natural property of each individual; whilst "the spirit and power" are bestowed as external gifts by the grace of God and so may be transferred to another person according to the purpose and will of the Almighty, as was anciently the case with respect to the spirit of Moses.(2)
CHAP. XXXVI.--THE MAIN POINTS OF OUR AUTHOR'S SUBJECT. ON THE SEXES OF THE HUMAN RACE.
For the discussion of these questions we abandoned, if I remember rightly, ground to which we must now return. We had established the position that the soul is seminally placed in man, and by human agency, and that its seed from the very beginning is uniform, as is that of the soul also, to the race of man; (and this we settled) owing to the rival opinions of the philosophers and the heretics, and that ancient saying mentioned by Plato (to which we referred above).(3) We now pursue in their order the points which follow from them. The soul, being sown in the womb at the same time as the body, receives likewise along with it its sex; and this indeed so simultaneously, that neither of the two substances can be alone regarded as the cause of the sex. Now, if in the semination of these substances any interval were admissible in their conception, in such wise that either the flesh or the soul should be the first to be conceived, one might then ascribe an especial sex to one of the substances, owing to the difference in the time of the impregnations, so that either the flesh would impress its sex upon the soul, or the soul upon the sex; even as Apelles (the heretic, not the painter(4)) gives the priority over their bodies to the souls of men and women, as he had been taught by Philumena, and in consequence makes the flesh, as the later, receive its sex from the soul. They also who make the soul supervene after birth on the flesh predetermine, of course, the sex of the previously formed soul to be male or female, according to (the sex of) the flesh. But the truth is, the seminations of the two substances are inseparable in point of time, and their effusion is also one and the same, in consequence of which a community of gender is secured to them; so that the course of nature, whatever that be, shall draw the line (for the distinct sexes). Certainly in this view we have an attestation of the method of the first two formations, when the male was moulded and tempered in a completer way, for Adam was first formed; and the woman came far behind him, for Eve was the later formed. So that her flesh was for a long time without specific form (such as she afterwards assumed when taken out of Adam s side); but she was even then herself a living being, because I should regard her at that time in soul as even a portion of Adam. Besides, God's afflatus would have animated her too, if there had not been in the woman a transmission from Adam of his soul also as well as of his flesh.
CHAP. XXXVII.--ON THE FORMATION AND STATE OF THE EMBRYO. ITS RELATION WITH THE SUBJECT OF THIS TREATISE.
Now the entire process of sowing, forming, and completing the human embryo in the womb is no doubt regulated by some power, which ministers herein to the will of God, whatever may be the method which it is appointed to employ. Even the superstition of Rome, by carefully attending to these points, imagined the goddess Alemona to nourish the foetus in the womb; as well as (the goddesses) Nona and Decima, called after the most critical months of gestation; and Partula, to manage and direct parturition; and Lucina, to bring the child to the birth and light of day. We, on our part, believe the angels to officiate herein for God. The embryo therefore becomes a human being in the womb from the moment that its form is completed. The law of Moses, indeed, punishes with due penalties the man who shall cause abortion, inasmuch as there exists already the rudiment of a human being,(5) which has imputed to it even now the condition of life and death, since it is already liable to the issues of both, although, by living still in the mother, it for the most part shares its own state with the mother. I must also say something about the period of the soul's birth, that I may omit nothing incidental in the whole process. A mature and regular birth takes place, as a general rule, at the commencement of the tenth month. They who theorize respecting numbers, honour the number ten as the parent of all the others, and as imparting perfection to the human nativity. For my own part, I prefer viewing this measure of time in reference to God, as if implying that the ten months rather initiated man into the ten commandments; so that the numerical estimate of the time needed to consummate our natural birth should correspond to the numerical classification of the rules of our regenerate life. But inasmuch as birth is also completed with the seventh month, I more readily recognize in this number than in the eighth the honour of a numerical agreement with the sabbatical period; so that the month in which God's image is sometimes produced in a human birth, shall in its number tally with the day on which God's creation was completed and hallowed. Human nativity has sometimes been allowed to be premature, and yet to occur in fit and perfect accordance with an hebdomad sevenfold number, as an auspice of our resurrection, and rest, and kingdom. The ogdoad, or eightfold number, therefore, is not concerned in our formation;(1) for in the time it represents there will be no more marriage.(2) We have already demonstrated the conjunction of the body and the soul, from the concretion of their very seminations to the complete formation of the foetus. We now maintain their conjunction likewise from the birth onwards; in the first place, because they both grow together, only each in a different manner suited to the diversity of their nature--the flesh in magnitude, the soul in intelligence--the flesh in material condition, the soul in sensibility. We are, however, forbidden to suppose that the soul increases in substance, lest it should be said also to be capable of diminution in substance, and so its extinction even should be believed to be possible; but its inherent power, in which are contained all its natural peculiarities, as originally implanted in its being, is gradually developed along with the flesh, without impairing the germinal basis of the substance, which it received when breathed at first into man. Take a certain quantity of gold or of silver--a rough mass as yet: it has indeed a compact condition, and one that is more compressed at the moment than it will be; yet it contains within its contour what is throughout a mass of gold or of silver. When this mass is afterwards extended by beating it into leaf, it becomes larger than it was before by the elongation of the original mass, but not by any addition thereto, because it is extended in space, not increased in bulk; although in a way it is even increased when it is extended: for it may be increased in form, but not in state. Then, again, the sheen of the gold or the silver, which when the metal was any in block was Inherent in it no doubt really, but yet only obscurely, shines out in developed lustre. Afterwards various modifications of shape accrue, according to the feasibility in the material which makes it yield to the manipulation of the artisan, who yet adds nothing to the condition of the mass but its configuration. In like manner, the growth and developments of the soul are to be estimated, not as enlarging its substance, but as calling forth Its powers.
CHAP. XXXVIII.--ON THE GROWTH OF THE SOUL. ITS MATURITY COINCIDENT WITH THE MATURITY OF THE FLESH IN MAN.
Now we have already(3) laid down the principle, that all the natural properties of the soul which relate to sense and intelligence are inherent in its very substance, and spring from its native constitution, but that they advance by a gradual growth through the stages of life and develope themselves in different ways by accidental circumstances, according to men's means and arts, their manners and customs their local situations, and the influences of the Supreme Powers;(4) but in pursuance of that aspect of the association of body and soul which We have now to consider, we maintain that the puberty of the soul coincides with that of the body, and that they attain both together to this full growth at about the fourteenth year of life, speaking generally,--the former by the suggestion of the senses, and the latter by the growth of the bodily members; and (we fix on this age) not because, as Asclepiades supposes, reflection then begins, nor because the civil laws date the commencement of the real business of life from this period, but because this was the appointed order from the very first. For as Adam and Eve felt that they must cover their nakedness after their knowledge of good and evil so we profess to have the same discernment of good and evil from the time that we experience the same sensation of shame. Now from the before-mentioned age (of fourteen years) sex is suffused and clothed with an especial sensibility, and concupiscence employs the ministry of the eye, and communicates its pleasure to another, and understands the natural relations between male and female, and wears the fig-tree apron to cover the shame which it still excites, and drives man out of the paradise of innocence and chastity, and in its wild pruriency falls upon sins and unnatural incentives to delinquency; for its impulse has by this time surpassed the appointment of nature, and springs from its vicious abuse. But the strictly natural concupiscence is simply confined to the desire of those aliments which God at the beginning conferred upon than. "Of every tree of the garden" He says, "ye shall freely eat;"(1) and then again to the generation which followed next after the flood He enlarged the grant: "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; behold, as the green herb have I given you all these things,"(2)--where He has regard rather to the body than to the soul, although it be in the interest of the soul also. For we must remove all occasion from the caviller, who, because the soul apparently wants ailments, would insist on the soul's being from this circumstance deemed mortal, since it is sustained by meat and drink and after a time loses its rigour when they are withheld, and on their complete removal ultimately droops and dies. Now the point we must keep in view is not merely which particular faculty it is which desires these (aliments), but also for what end; and even if it be for its own sake, still the question remains, Why this desire, and when felt, and how long? Then again there is the consideration, that it is one thing to desire by natural instinct, and another thing to desire through necessity; one thing to desire as a property of being, another thing to desire for a special object. The soul, therefore, will desire meat and drink--for itself indeed, because of a special necessity; for the flesh, however, from the nature of its properties. For the flesh is no doubt the house of the soul, and the soul is the temporary inhabitant of the flesh. The desire, then, of the lodger will arise from the temporary cause and the special necessity which his very designation suggests,--with a view to benefit and improve the place of his temporary abode, while sojourning in it; not with the view, certainly, of being himself the foundation of the house, or himself its walls, or himself its support and roof, but simply and solely with the view of being accommodated and housed, since he could not receive such accommodation except in a sound and well-built house. (Now, applying this imagery to the soul,) if it be not provided with this accommodation, it will not be in its power to quit its dwelling-place, and for want of fit and proper resources, to depart safe and sound, in possession, too, of its own supports, and the aliments which belong to its own proper condition,--namely immortality, rationality, sensibility, intelligence, and freedom of the will.
CHAP. XXXIX.--THE EVIL SPIRIT HAS MARRED THE PURITY OF THE SOUL FROM THE VERY BIRTH.
All these endowments of the soul which are bestowed on it at birth are still obscured and depraved by the malignant being who, in the beginning, regarded them with envious eye, so that they are never seen in their spontaneous action, nor are they administered as they ought to be. For to what individual of the human race will not the evil spirit cleave, ready to entrap their souls from the very portal of their birth, at which he is invited to be present in all those superstitious processes which accompany childbearing? Thus it comes to pass that all men are brought to the birth with idolatry for the midwife, whilst the very wombs that bear them, still bound with the fillets that have been wreathed before the idols, declare their offspring to be consecrated to demons: for in parturition they invoke the aid of Lucina and Diana; for a whole week a table is spread in honour of Juno; on the last day the fates of the horoscope(3) are invoked; and then the infant's first step on the ground is sacred to the goddess Statina. After this does any one fail to devote to idolatrous service the entire head of his son, or to take out a hair, or to shave off the whole with a razor, or to bind it up for an offering, or seal it for sacred use--in behalf of the clan, of the ancestry, or for public devotion? On this principle of early possession it was that Socrates, while yet a boy, was found by the spirit of the demon. Thus, too, is it that to all persons their genii are assigned, which is only another name for demons. Hence in no case (I mean of the heathen, of course) is there any nativity which is pure of idolatrous superstition. It was from this circumstance that the apostle said, that when either of the parents was sanctified, the children were holy;(1) and this as much by the prerogative of the (Christian) seed as by the discipline of the institution (by baptism, and Christian education). "Else," says he, "were the children unclean" by birth:(1) as if he meant us to understand that the children of believers were designed for holiness, and thereby for salvation; in order that he might by the pledge of such a hope give his support to matrimony, which he had determined to maintain in its integrity. Besides, he had certainly not forgotten what the Lord had so definitively stated: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God;"(2) in other words, he cannot be holy.
CHAP. XL.--THE BODY OF MAN ONLY ANCILLARY TO THE SOUL IN THE COMMISSION OF EVIL.
Every soul, then, by reason of its birth, has its nature in Adam until it is born again in Christ; moreover, it is unclean all the while that it remains without this regeneration;(3) and because unclean, it is actively sinful, and suffuses even the flesh (by reason of their conjunction) with its own shame. Now although the flesh is sinful, and we are forbidden to walk in accordance with it,(4) and its works are condemned as lusting against the spirit,(5) and men on its account are censured as carnal,(6) yet the flesh has not such ignominy on its own account. For it is not of itself that it thinks anything or feels anything for the purpose of advising or commanding sin. How should it, indeed? It is only a ministering thing, and its ministration is not like that of a servant or familiar friend--animated and human beings; but rather that of a vessel, or something of that kind: it is body, not soul. Now a cup may minister to a thirsty man; and yet, if the thirsty man will not apply the cup to his mouth, the cup will yield no ministering service. Therefore the differentia, or distinguishing property, of man by no means lies in his earthy element; nor is the flesh the human person, as being some faculty of his soul, and a personal quality; but it is a thing of quite a different substance and different condition, although annexed to the soul as a chattel or as an instrument for the offices of life. Accordingly the flesh is blamed in the Scriptures, because nothing is done by the soul without the flesh in operations of concupiscence, appetite, drunkenness, cruelty, idolatry, and other works of the flesh,--operations, I mean, which are not confined to sensations, but result in effects. The emotions of sin, indeed, when not resulting in effects, are usually imputed to the soul: "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after, hath already in his heart committed adultery with her."(7) But what has the flesh alone, without the soul, ever done in operations of virtue, righteousness, endurance, or chastity? What absurdity, however, it is to attribute sin and crime to that substance to which you do not assign any good actions or character of its own! Now the party which aids in the commission of a crime is brought to trial, only in such a way that the principal offender who actually committed the crime may bear the weight of the penalty, although the abettor too does not escape indictment. Greater is the odium which falls on the principal, when his officials are punished through his fault. He is beaten with more stripes who instigates and orders the crime, whilst at the same time he who obeys such an evil command is not acquitted.
CHAP. XLI.--NOTWITHSTANDING THE DEPRAVITY OF MAN'S SOUL BY ORIGINAL SIN, THERE IS YET LEFT A BASIS WHEREON DIVINE GRACE CAN WORK FOR ITS RECOVERY BY SPIRITUAL REGENERATION.
There is, then, besides the evil which supervenes on the soul from the intervention of the evil spirit, an antecedent, and in a certain sense natural, evil which arises from its corrupt origin. For, as we have said before, the corruption of our nature is another nature having a god and father of its own, namely the author of (that) corruption. Still there is a portion of good in the soul, of that original, divine, and genuine good, which is its proper nature. For that which is derived from God is rather obscured than extinguished. It can be obscured, indeed, because it is not God; extinguished, however, it cannot be, because it comes from God. As therefore light, when intercepted by an opaque body, still remains, although it is not apparent, by reason of the interposition of so dense a body; so likewise the good in the soul, being weighed down by the evil, is, owing to the obscuring character thereof, either not seen at all, its light being wholly hidden, or else only a stray beam is there visible where it struggles through by an accidental outlet. Thus some men are very bad, and some very good; but yet the souls of all form but one genus: even in the worst there is something good, and in the best there is something bad. For God alone is without sin; and the only man without sin is Christ, since Christ is also God. Thus the divinity of the soul bursts forth in prophetic forecasts in consequence of its primeval good; and being conscious of its origin, it bears testimony to God (its author) in exclamations such as: Good God! God knows! and Good-bye!(1) Just as no soul is without sin, so neither is any soul without seeds of good. Therefore, when the soul embraces the faith, being renewed in its second birth by water and the power from above, then the veil of its former corruption being taken away, it beholds the light in all its brightness. It is also taker up (in its second birth) by the Holy Spirit, just as in its first birth it is embraced by the unholy spirit. The flesh follows the soul now wedded to the Spirit, as a part of the bridal portion--no longer the servant of the soul, but of the Spirit. O happy marriage, if in it there is committed no violation of the nuptial vow!
CHAP. XLII.--SLEEP, THE MIRROR OF DEATH, AS INTRODUCTORY TO THE CONSIDERATION OF DEATH.
It now remains (that we discuss the subject) of death, in order that our subject-matter may terminate where the soul itself completes it; although Epicurus, indeed, in his pretty widely known doctrine, has asserted that death does not appertain to us. That, says he, which is dissolved lacks sensation; and that which is without sensation is nothing to us. Well, but it is not actually death which suffers dissolution and lacks sensation, but the human person who experiences death. Yet even he has admitted suffering to be incidental to the being to whom action belongs. Now, if it is in man to suffer death, which dissolves the body and destroys the senses, how absurd to say that so great a susceptibility belongs not to man! With much greater precision does Seneca say: "After death all comes to an end, even (death) itself." From which position of his it must needs follow that death will appertain to its own self, since itself comes to an end; and much more to man, in the ending of whom amongst the "all," itself also ends. Death, (says Epicurus) belongs not to us; then at that rate, life belongs not to us. For certainly, if that which causes our dissolution have no relation to us, that also which compacts and composes us must be unconnected with us. If the deprivation of our sensation be nothing to us, neither can the acquisition of sensation have anything to do with us. The fact, however, is, he who destroys the very soul, (as Epicurus does), cannot help destroying death also. As for ourselves, indeed, (Christians as we are), we must treat of death just as we should of the posthumous life and of some other province of the soul, (assuming) that we at all events belong to death, if it. does not pertain to us. And on the same principle, even sleep, which is the very mirror of death, is not alien from our subject-matter.
CHAP. XLIII.--SLEEP A NATURAL FUNCTION AS SHOWN BY OTHER CONSIDERATIONS, AND BY THE TESTIMONY OF SCRIPTURE.
Let us therefore first discuss the question of sleep, and afterwards in what way the soul encounters(2) death. Now sleep is certainly not a supernatural thing, as some philosophers will have it be, when they suppose it to be the result of causes which appear to be above nature. The Stoics affirm sleep to be "a temporary suspension of the activity of the senses;"(3) the Epicureans define it as an intermission of the animal spirit; Anaxagoras and Xenophanes as a weariness of the same; Empedocles and Parmenides as a cooling down thereof; Strato as a separation of the (soul's) connatural spirit; Democritus as the soul's indigence; Aristotle as the interruption(4) of the heat around the heart. As for myself, I can safely say that i have never slept in such a way as to discover even a single one of these conditions. Indeed, we cannot possibly believe that sleep is a weariness; it is rather the opposite, for it undoubtedly removes weariness, and a person is refreshed by sleep instead of being fatigued. Besides, sleep is not always the result of fatigue; and even when it is, the fatigue continues no longer. Nor can I allow that sleep is a cooling or decaying of the animal heat, for our bodies derive warmth from sleep in such a way that the regular dispersion of the food by means of sleep could not so easily go on if there were too much heat to accelerate it unduly, or cold to retard it, if sleep had the alleged refrigerating influence. There is also the further fact that perspiration indicates an over-heated digestion; and digestion is predicated of us as a process of concoction, which is an operation concerned with heat and not with cold. In like manner, the immortality of the soul precludes belief in the theory that sleep is an intermission of the animal spirit, or an indigence of the spirit, or a separation of the (soul's) connatural spirit. The soul perishes if it undergoes diminution or intermission. Our only resource, indeed, is to agree with the Stoics, by determining the soul to be a temporary suspension of the activity of the senses, procuring rest for the body only, not for the soul also. For the soul, as being always in motion, and always active, never succumbs to rest,--a condition which is alien to immortality: for nothing immortal admits ,any end to its operation; but sleep is an end of operation. It is indeed on the body, which is subject to mortality, and on the body alone, that sleep graciously bestows(1) a cessation from work. He, therefore, who shall doubt whether sleep is a natural function, has the dialectical experts calling in question the whole difference between things natural and supernatural--so that what things he supposed to be beyond nature he may, (if he likes,) be safe in assigning to nature, which indeed has made such a disposition of things, that they may seemingly be accounted as beyond it; and so, of course, all things are natural or none are natural, (as occasion requires.) With us (Christians), however, only that can receive a hearing which is suggested by contemplating God, the Author of all the things which we are now discussing. For we believe that nature, if it is anything, is a reasonable work of God. Now reason presides over sleep; for sleep is so fit for man, so useful, so necessary, that were it not for it, not a soul could provide agency for recruiting the body, for restoring its energies, for ensuring its health, for supplying suspension from work and remedy against labour, and for the legitimate enjoyment of which day departs, and night provides an ordinance by taking from all objects their very colour. Since, then, sleep is indispensable to our life, and health, and succour, there can be nothing pertaining to it which is not reasonable, and which is not natural. Hence it is that physicians banish beyond the gateway of nature everything which is contrary to what is vital healthful, and helpful to nature; for those maladies which are inimical to sleep--maladies of the mind and of the stomach--they have decided to be contrariant to nature, and by such decision have determined as its corollary that sleep is perfectly natural. Moreover, when they declare that sleep is not natural in the lethargic state, they derive their conclusion from the fact that it is natural when it is in its due and regular exercise. For every natural state is impaired either by defect or by excess, whilst it is maintained by its proper measure and amount. That, therefore, will be natural in its condition which may be rendered non-natural by defect or by excess. Well, now, what if you were to remove eating and drinking from the conditions of nature? if in them lies the chief incentive to sleep. It is certain that, from the very beginning of his nature, man was impressed with these instincts (of sleep).(2) If you receive your instruction from God, (you will find) that the fountain of the human race, Adam, had a taste of drowsiness before having a draught of repose; slept before he laboured, or even before he ate, nay, even before he spoke; in Order that men may see that sleep is a natural feature and function, and one which has actually precedence over all the natural faculties. From this primary instance also we are led to trace even then the image of death in sleep. For as Adam was a figure of Christ, Adam's sleep shadowed out the death of Christ, who was to sleep a mortal slumber, that from the wound inflicted on His side might, in like manner (as Eve was formed), be typified the church, the true mother of the living. This is why sleep is so salutary, so rational, and is actually formed into the model of that death which is general and common to the race of man. God, indeed, has willed (and it may be said in passing that He has, generally, in His dispensations brought nothing to pass without such types and shadows) to set before us, in a manner more fully and completely than Plato's example, by daily recurrence the outlines of man's state, especially concerning the beginning and the termination thereof; thus stretching out the hand to help our faith more readily by types and parables, not in words only, but also in things. He accordingly sets before your view the human body stricken by the friendly power of slumber, prostrated by the kindly necessity of repose immoveable in position, just as it lay previous to life, and just as it will lie after life is past: there it lies as an attestation of its form when first moulded, and of its condition when at last buried--awaiting the soul in both stages, in the former previous to its bestowal, in the latter after its recent withdrawal. Meanwhile the soul is circumstanced in such a manner as to seem to be elsewhere active, learning to bear future absence by a dissembling of its presence for the moment. We shall soon know the case of Hermotimus. But yet it dreams in the interval. Whence then its dreams? The fact is, it cannot rest or be idle altogether, nor does it confine to the still hours of sleep the nature of its immortality. It proves itself to possess a constant motion; it travels over land and sea, it trades, it is excited, it labours, it plays, it grieves, it rejoices, it follows pursuits lawful and unlawful; it shows what very great power it has even without the body, how well equipped it is with members of its own, although betraying at the same time the need it has of impressing on some body its activity again. Accordingly, when the body shakes off its slumber, it asserts before your eye the resurrection of the dead by its own resumption of its natural functions. Such, therefore, must be both the natural reason and the reasonable nature of sleep. If you only regard it as the image of death, you initiate faith, you nourish hope, you learn both how to die and how to live, you learn watchfulness, even while you sleep.
CHAP. XLIV.--THE STORY OF HERMOTIMUS, AND THE SLEEPLESSNESS OF THE EMPEROR NERO. NO SEPARATION OF THE SOUL FROM THE BODY UNTIL DEATH.
With regard to the case of Hermotimus, they say that he used to be deprived of his soul in his sleep, as if it wandered away from his body like a person on a holiday trip. His wife betrayed the strange peculiarity. His enemies, finding him asleep, burnt his body, as if it were a corpse: when his soul returned too late, it appropriated (I suppose) to itself. the guilt of the murder. However the good citizens of Clazomenae consoled poor Hermotimus with a temple, into which no woman ever enters, because of the infamy of this wife. Now why this story? In order that, since the vulgar belief so readily holds sleep to be the separation of the soul from the body, credulity should not be encouraged by this case of Hermotimus. It must certainly have been a much heavier sort of slumber: one would presume it was the nightmare, or perhaps that diseased languor which Soranus suggests in opposition to the nightmare, or else some such malady as that which the fable has fastened upon Epimenides, who slept on some fifty years or so. Suetonius, however, informs us that Nero never dreamt, and Theopompus says the same thing about Thrasymedes; but Nero at the close of his life did with some difficulty dream after some excessive alarm. What indeed would be said, if the case of Hermotimus were believed to be such that the repose of his soul was a state of actual idleness during sleep, and a positive separation from his body? You may conjecture it to be anything but such a licence of the soul as admits of flights away from the body without death, and that by continual recurrence, as if habitual to its state and constitution. If indeed such a thing were told me to have happened at any time to the soul--resembling a total eclipse of the sun or the moon--I should verily suppose that the occurrence had been caused by God's own interposition, for it would not be unreasonable for a man to receive admonition from the Divine Being either in the way of warning or of alarm, as by a flash of lightning, or by a sudden stroke of death; only it would be much the more natural conclusion to believe that this process should be by a dream, because if it must be supposed to be, (as the hypothesis we are resisting assumes it to be,) not a dream, the occurrence ought rather to happen to a man whilst he is wide awake.
CHAP. XLV.--DREAMS, AN INCIDENTAL EFFECT OF THE SOUL'S ACTIVITY. ECSTASY.
We are bound to expound at this point what is the opinion of Christians respecting dreams, as incidents of sleep, and as no slight or trifling excitements of the soul, which we have declared to be always occupied and active owing to its perpetual movement, which again is a proof and evidence of its divine quality and immortality. When, therefore, rest accrues to human bodies, it being their own especial comfort, the soul, disdaining a repose which is not natural to it, never rests; and since it receives no help from the limbs of the body, it uses its own. Imagine a gladiator without his instruments or arms, and a charioteer without his team, but still gesticulating the entire course and exertion of their respective employments: there is the fight, there is the struggle; but the effort is a vain one. Nevertheless the whole procedure seems to be gone through, although it evidently has not been really effected. There is the act, but not the effect. This power we call ecstasy, in which the sensuous soul stands out of itself, in a way which even resembles madness.(1) Thus in the very beginning sleep was inaugurated by ecstasy: "And God sent an ecstasy upon Adam, and he slept."(2) The sleep came on his body to cause it to rest, but the ecstasy fell on his soul to remove rest: from that very circumstance it still happens ordinarily (and from the order results the nature of the case) that sleep is combined with ecstasy. In fact, with what real feeling, and anxiety, and suffering do we experience joy, and sorrow, and alarm in our dreams! Whereas we should not be moved by any such emotions, by what would be the merest fantasies of course, if when we dream we were masters of ourselves, (unaffected by ecstasy.) In these dreams, indeed, good actions are useless, and crimes harmless; for we shall no more be condemned for visionary acts of sin, than we shall be crowned for imaginary martyrdom. But how, you will ask, can the soul remember its dreams, when it is said to be without any mastery over its own operations? This memory must be an especial gift of the ecstatic condition of which we are treating, since it arises not from any failure of healthy action, but entirely from natural process; nor does it expel mental function--it withdraws it for a time. It is one thing to shake, it is another thing to move; one thing to destroy, another thing to agitate. That, therefore, which memory supplies betokens soundness of mind; and that which a sound mind ecstatically experiences whilst the memory remains unchecked, is a kind of madness. We are accordingly not said to be mad, but to dream, in that state; to be in the full possession also of our mental faculties,(1) if we are at any time. For although the power to exercise these faculties(2) may be dimmed in us, it is still not extinguished; except that it may seem to be itself absent at the very time that the ecstasy is energizing in us in its special manner, in such wise as to bring before us images of a sound mind and of wisdom, even as it does those of aberration.
CHAP. XLVI.--DIVERSITY OF DREAMS AND VISIONS. EPICURUS THOUGHT LIGHTLY OF THEM, THOUGH GENERALLY MOST HIGHLY VALUED. INSTANCES OF DREAMS.
We now find ourselves constrained to express an opinion about the character of the dreams by which the soul is excited. And when shall we arrive at the subject of death? And on such a question I would say, When God shall permit: that admits of no long delay which must needs happen at all events. Epicurus has given it as his opinion that dreams are altogether vain things; (but he says this) when liberating the Deity from all sort of care, and dissolving the entire order of the world, and giving to all things the aspect of merest chance, casual in their issues, fortuitous in their nature. Well, now, if such be the nature of things, there must be some chance even for truth, because it is impossible for it to be the only thing to be exempted from the fortune which is due to all things. Homer has assigned two gates to dreams,(3)--the horny one of truth, the ivory one of error and delusion. For, they say, it is possible to see through horn, whereas ivory is untransparent. Aristotle, while expressing his opinion that dreams are in most cases untrue, yet acknowledges that there is some truth in them. The people of Telmessus will not admit that dreams are in any case unmeaning, but they blame their own weakness when unable to conjecture their signification. Now, who is such a stranger to human experience as not sometimes to have perceived some truth in dreams? I shall force a blush from Epicurus, If I only glance at some few of the more remarkable instances. Herodotus(4) relates how that Astyages, king of the Medes, saw in a dream issuing from the womb of his virgin daughter a flood which inundated Asia; and again, in the year which followed her marriage, he saw a vine growing out from the same part of her person, which overspread the whole of Asia. The same story is told prior to Herodotus by Charon of Lampsacus. Now they who interpreted these visions did not deceive the mother when they destined her son for so great an enterprise, for Cyrus both inundated and overspread Asia. Philip of Macedon, before he became a father, had seen imprinted on the pudenda of his consort Olympias the form of a small ring, with a lion as a seal. He had concluded that an offspring from her was out of the question (I suppose because the lion only becomes once a father), when Aristodemus or Aristophon happened to conjecture that nothing of an unmeaning or empty import lay under that seal, but that a son of very illustrious character was portended. They who know anything of Alexander recognise in him the lion of that small ring. Ephorus writes to this effect. Again, Heraclides has told us, that a certain woman of Himera beheld in a dream Dionysius' tyranny over Sicily. Euphorion has publicly recorded as a fact, that, previous to giving birth to Seleucus, his mother Laodice foresaw that he was destined for the empire of Asia. I find again from Strabo, that it was owing to a dream that even Mithridates took possession of Pontus; and I further learn from Cal-listhenes that it was from the indication of a dream that Baraliris the Illyrian stretched his dominion from the Molossi to the frontiers of Macedon. The Romans, too, were acquainted with dreams of this kind. From a dream Marcus Tullius (Cicero) had learnt how that one, who was yet only a little boy, and in a private station, who was also plain Julius Octavius, and personally unknown to (Cicero) himself, was the destined Augustus, and the suppressor and destroyer of (Rome's) civil discords. This is recorded in the Commentaries of Vitellius. But visions of this prophetic kind were not confined to predictions of supreme power; for they indicated perils also, and catastrophes: as, for instance, when Caesar was absent from the battle of Philippi through illness, and thereby escaped the sword of Brutus and Cassius, and then although he expected to encounter greater danger still from the enemy in the field, he quitted his tent for it, in obedience to a vision of Artorius, and so escaped (the capture by the enemy, who shortly after took possession of the tent); as, again, when the daughter of Polycrates of Samos foresaw the crucifixion which awaited him from the anointing of the sun and the bath of Jupiter.(1) So likewise in sleep revelations are made of high honours and eminent talents; remedies are also discovered, thefts brought to light, and treasures indicated. Thus Cicero's eminence, whilst he was still a little boy, was foreseen by his nurse. The swan from the breast of Socrates soothing men, is his disciple Plato. The boxer Leonymus is cured by Achilles in his dreams. Sophocles the tragic poet discovers, as he was dreaming, the golden crown, which had been lost from the citadel of Athens. Neoptolemus the tragic actor, through intimations in his sleep from Ajax himself, saves from destruction the hero's tomb on the Rhoetean shore before Troy; and as he removes the decayed stones, he returns enriched with gold. How many commentators and chroniclers vouch for this phenomenon? There are Artemon, Antiphon, Strato, Philochorus, Epi- charmus, Serapion, Cratippus, and Dionysius of Rhodes, and Hermippus--the entire literature of the age. I shall only laugh at all, if indeed I ought to laugh at the man who fancied that he was going to persuade us that Saturn dreamt before anybody else; which we can only believe if Aristotle, (who would fain help us to such an opinion,) lived prior to any other person. Pray forgive me for laughing. Epicharmus, indeed, as well as Philochorus the Athenian, assigned the very highest place among divinations to dreams. The whole world is full of oracles of this description: there are the oracles of Amphiaraus at Oropus, of Amphi-lochus at Mallus, of Sarpedon in the Troad, of Trophonius in Boeotia, of Mopsus in Cilicia, of Hermione in Macedon, of Pasiphae in Laconia. Then, again, there are others, which with their original foundations, rites, and historians, together with the entire literature of dreams, Hermippus of Berytus in five portly volumes will give you all the account of, even to satiety. But the Stoics are very fond of saying that God, in His most watchful providence over every institution, gave us dreams amongst other preservatives of the arts and sciences of divination, as the especial support of the natural oracle. So much for the dreams to which credit has to be ascribed even by ourselves, although we must interpret them in another sense. As for all other oracles, at which no one ever dreams, what else must we declare concerning them, than that they are the diabolical contrivance of those spirits who even at that time dwelt in the eminent persons themselves, or aimed at reviving the memory of them as the mere stage of their evil purposes, going so far as to counterfeit a divine power under their shape and form, and, with equal persistence in evil, deceiving men by their very boons of remedies, warnings, and forecasts,--the only effect of which was to injure their victims the more they helped them; while the means whereby they rendered the help withdrew them from all search after the true God, by insinuating into their minds ideas of the false one? And of course so pernicious an influence as this is not shut up nor limited within the boundaries of shrines and temples: it roams abroad, it flies through the air, and all the while is free and unchecked. So that nobody can doubt that our very homes lie open to these diabolical spirits, who beset their human prey with their fantasies not only in their chapels but also in their chambers.
CHAP. XLVII.--DREAMS VARIOUSLY CLASSIFIED. SOME ARE GOD-SENT, AS THE DREAMS OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR; OTHERS SIMPLY PRODUCTS OF NATURE.
We declare, then, that dreams are inflicted on us mainly by demons, although they sometimes turn out true and favourable to us. When, however, with the deliberate aim after evil, of which we have just spoken, they assume a flattering and captivating style, they show themselves proportionately vain, and deceitful, and obscure, and wanton, and impure. And no wonder that the images partake of the character of the realities. But from God--who has promised, indeed, "to pour out the grace of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh, and has ordained that His servants and His handmaids should see visions as well as utter prophecies"(2)--must all those visions be regarded as emanating, which may be compared to the actual grace of God, as being honest, holy, prophetic, inspired, instructive, inviting to virtue, the bountiful nature of which causes them to overflow even to the profane, since God, with grand impartiality, "sends His showers and sunshine on the just and on the unjust."(1) It was, indeed by an inspiration from God that Nebuchadnezzar dreamt his dreams;(2) and almost the greater part of mankind get their knowledge of God from dreams. Thus it is that, as the mercy of God super-abounds to the heathen, so the temptation of the evil one encounters the saints, from whom he never withdraws his malignant efforts to steal over them as best he may in their very sleep, if unable to assault them when they are awake. The third class of dreams will consist of those which the soul itself apparently creates for itself from an intense application to special circumstances. Now, inasmuch as the soul cannot dream of its own accord (for even Epicharmus is of this opinion), how can it become to itself the cause of any vision? Then must this class of dreams be abandoned to the action of nature, reserving for the soul, even when in the ecstatic condition, the power of enduring whatever incidents befall it? Those, moreover, which evidently proceed neither from God, nor from diabolical inspiration, nor from the soul, being beyond the reach as well of ordinary expectation, usual interpretation, or the possibility of being intelligibly related, will have to be ascribed in a separate category to what is purely and simply the ecstatic state and its peculiar conditions.
CHAP. XLVIII.--CAUSES AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF DREAMS. WHAT BEST CONTRIBUTES TO EFFICIENT DREAMING.
They say that dreams are more sure and clear when they happen towards the end of the night, because then the vigour of the soul emerges, and heavy sleep departs. As to the seasons of the year, dreams are calmer in spring, since summer relaxes, and winter somehow hardens, the soul; while autumn, which in other respects is trying to health, is apt to enervate the soul by the lusciosness of its fruits. Then, again, as regards the position of one's body during sleep, one ought not to lie on his back, nor on his right side, nor so as to wrench(3) his intestines, as if their cavity were reversely stretched: a palpitation of the heart would ensue, or else a pressure on the liver would produce a painful disturbance of the mind. But however this be, I take it that it all amounts to ingenious conjecture rather than certain proof (although the author of the conjecture be no less a man than Plato);(4) and possibly all may be no other than the result of chance. But, generally speaking, dreams will be under control of a man's will, if they be capable of direction at all; for we must not examine what opinion on the one hand, and superstition on the other, have to prescribe for the treatment of dreams, in the matter of distinguishing and modifying different sorts of food. As for the superstition, we have an instance when fasting is prescribed for such persons as mean to submit to the sleep which is necessary for receiving the oracle, in order that such abstinence may produce the required purity; while we find an instance of the opinion when the disciples of Pythagoras, in order to attain the same end, reject the bean as an aliment which would load the stomach, and produce indigestion. But the three brethren, who were the companions of Daniel, being content with pulse alone, to escape the contamination of the royal dishes,(5) received from God, besides other wisdom, the gift especially of penetrating and explaining the sense of dreams. For my own part, I hardly know whether fasting would not simply make me dream so profoundly, that I should not be aware whether I had in fact dreamt at all. Well, then, you ask, has not sobriety something to do in this matter? certainly it is as much concerned in this as it is in the entire subject: if it contributes some good service to superstition, much more does it to religion. For even demons require such discipline from their dreamers as a gratification to their divinity, because they know that it is acceptable to God, since Daniel (to quote him again) "ate no pleasant bread" for the space of three weeks.(6) This abstinence, however, he used in order to please God by humiliation, and not for the purpose of producing a sensibility and wisdom for his soul previous to receiving communication by dreams and visions, as if it were not rather to effect such action in an ecstatic state. This sobriety, then, (in which our question arises,) will have nothing to do with exciting ecstasy, but will rather serve to recommend its being wrought by God.
CHAP. XLIX.--NO SOUL NATURALLY EXEMPT FROM DREAMS.
As for those persons who suppose that infants do not dream, on the ground that all the functions of the soul throughout life are ac-complished according to the capacity of age, they ought to observe attentively their tremors, and nods, and bright smiles as they sleep, and from such facts understand that they are the emotions of their soul as it dreams, which so readily escape to the surface through the delicate tenderness of their infantine body. The fact, however, that the African nation of the Atlantes are said to pass through the night in a deep lethargic sleep, brings down on them the censure that something is wrong in the constitution of their soul. Now either report, which is occasionally calumnious against barbarians, deceived Herodotus,(1) or else a large force of demons of this sort domineers in those barbarous regions. Since, indeed, Aristotle remarks of a certain hero of Sardinia that he used to withhold the power of visions and dreams from such as resorted to his shrine for inspiration, it must lie at the will and caprice of the demons to take away as well as to confer the faculty of dreams; and from this circumstance may have arisen the remarkable fact (which we have mentioned(2) ) of Nero and Thrasymedes only dreaming so late in life. We, however, derive dreams from God. Why, then, did not the Atlantes receive the dreaming faculty from God, because there is really no nation which is now a stranger to God, since the gospel flashes its glorious light through the world to the ends of the earth? Could it then be that rumour deceived Aristotle, or is this caprice still the way of demons? (Let us take any view of the case), only do not let it be imagined that any soul is by its natural constitution exempt from dreams.
CHAP. L.--THE ABSURD OPINION OF EPICURUS AND THE PROFANE CONCEITS OF THE HERETIC MENANDER ON DEATH, EVEN ENOCH AND ELIJAH RESERVED FOR DEATH.
We have by this time said enough about sleep, the mirror and image of death; and likewise about the occupations of sleep, even dreams. Let us now go on to consider the cause of our departure hence--that is, the appointment and course of death--because we must not leave even it unquestioned and unexamined, although it is itself the very end of all questions and investigations. According to the general sentiment of the human race, we declare death to be "the debt of nature." So much has been settled by the voice of God;(3) such is the contract with everything which is born: so that even from this the frigid conceit of Epicurus is refuted, who says that no such debt is due from us; and not only so, but the insane opinion of the Samaritan heretic Menander is also rejected, who will have it that death has not only nothing to do with his disciples, but in fact never reaches them. He pretends to have received such a commission from the secret power of One above, that all who partake of his baptism become immortal, incorruptible and instantaneously invested with resurrection-life. We read, no doubt, of very many wonderful kinds of waters: how, for instance, the vinous quality of the stream intoxicates people who drink of the Lyncestis; how at Colophon the waters of an oracle-inspiring fountain(4) affect men with madness; how Alexander was killed by the poisonous water from Mount Nonacris in Arcadia. Then, again, there was in Judea before the time of Christ a pool of medicinal virtue. It is well known how the poet has commemorated the marshy Styx as preserving men from death; although Thetis had, in spite of the preservative, to lament her son. And for the matter of that, were Menander himself to take a plunge into this famous Styx, he would certainly have to die after all; for you must come to the Styx, placed as it is by all accounts in the regions of the dead. Well, but what and where are those blessed and charming waters which not even John Baptist ever used in his preministrations, nor Christ after him ever revealed to His disciples? What was this wondrous bath of Menander? He is a comical fellow, I ween.(5) But why (was such a font) so seldom in request, so obscure, one to which so very few ever resorted for their cleansing? I really see something to suspect in so rare an occurrence of a sacrament to which is attached so very much security and safety, and which dispenses with the ordinary law of dying even in the service of God Himself, when, on the contrary, all nations have "to ascend to the mount of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob," who demands of His saints in martyrdom that death which He exacted even of His Christ. No one will ascribe to magic such influence as shall exempt from death, or which shall refresh and vivify life, like the vine by the renewal of its condition. Such power was not accorded to the great Medea herself--over a human being at any rate, if allowed her over a silly sheep. Enoch no doubt was translated,(6) and so was Elijah;(7) nor did they experience death: it was postponed, (and only postponed,) most certainly: they are reserved for the suffering of death, that by their blood they may extinguish Antichrist.(1) Even John underwent death, although concerning him there had prevailed an ungrounded expectation that he would remain alive until the coming of the Lord.(2) Heresies, indeed, for the most pan spring hurriedly into existence, from examples furnished by ourselves: they procure their defensive armour from the very place which they attack. The whole question resolves itself, in short, into this challenge: Where are to be found the men whom Menander himself has baptized? whom he has plunged into his Styx? Let them come forth and stand before us--those apostles of his whom he has made immortal? Let my (doubting) Thomas see them, let him hear them, let him handle them--and he is convinced.
CHAP. LI.--DEATH ENTIRELY SEPARATES THE SOUL FROM THE BODY.
But the operation of death is plain and obvious: it is the separation of body and soul. Some, however, in reference to the soul's immortality, on which they have so feeble a hold through not being taught of God, maintain it with such beggarly arguments, that they would fain have it supposed that certain souls cleave to the body even after death. It is indeed in this sense that Plato, although he despatches at once to heaven such souls as he pleases,(3) yet in his Republic(4) exhibits to us the corpse of an unburied person, which was preserved a long time without corruption, by reason of the soul remaining, as he says, unseparated from the body. To the same purport also Democritus remarks on the growth for a considerable while of the human nails and hair in the grave. Now, it is quite possible that the nature of the atmosphere tended to the preservation of the above-mentioned corpse. What if the air were particularly dry, and the ground of a saline nature? What, too, if the substance of the body itself were unusually dry and arid? What, moreover, if the mode of the death had already eliminated from the corpse all corrupting matter? As for the nails, since they are the commencement of the nerves, they may well seem to be prolonged, owing to the nerves themselves being relaxed and extended, and to be protruded more and more as the flesh fails. The hair, again, is nourished from the brain, which would cause it endure for a long time as its secret aliment and defence. Indeed, in the case of living persons themselves, the whole head of hair is copious or scanty in proportion to the exuberance of the brain. You have medical men (to attest the fact). But not a particle of the soul can possibly remain in the body, which is itself destined to disappear when time shall have abolished the entire scene on which the body has played its part. And yet even this partial survival of the soul finds a place in the opinions of some men; and on this account they will not have the body consumed at its funeral by fire, because they would spare the small residue of the soul. There is, however, another way of accounting for this pious treatment, not as if it meant to favour the relics of the soul, but as if it would avert a cruel custom in the interest even of the body; since, being human, it is itself undeserving of an end which is also inflicted upon murderers. The truth is, the soul is indivisible, because it is immortal; (and this fact) compels us to believe that death itself is an indivisible process, accruing indivisibly to the soul, not indeed because it is immortal, but because it is indivisible. Death, however, would have to be divided in its operation, if the soul were divisible into particles, any one of which has to be reserved for a later stage of death. At this rate, a part of death will have to stay behind for a portion of the soul. I am not ignorant that some vestige of this opinion still exists. I have found it out from one of my own people. I am acquainted with the case of a woman, the daughter of Christian parents,(5) who in the very flower of her age and beauty slept peacefully (in Jesus), after a singularly happy though brief married life. Before they laid her in her grave, and when the priest began the appointed office, at the very first breath of his prayer she withdrew her hands from her side, placed them in an attitude of devotion, and after the holy service was concluded restored them to their lateral position. Then, again, there is that well-known story among our own people, that a body voluntarily made way in a certain cemetery, to afford room for another body to be placed near to it. If, as is the case, similar stories are told amongst the heathen, (we can only conclude that) God everywhere manifests signs of His own power--to His own people for their comfort, to strangers for a testimony unto them. I would indeed much rather suppose that a portent of this kind happened form the direct agency of God than from any relics of the soul: for if there were a residue of these, they would be certain to move the other limbs; and even if they moved the hands, this still would not have been for the purpose of a prayer. Nor would the corpse hav been simply content to have made way for its neighbour: it would, besides, have benefited its own self also by the change of its position. But from whatever cause proceeded these phenomena, which you must put down amongst signs and portents, it is impossible that they should regulate nature. Death, if it once falls short of totality in operation, is not death. If any fraction of the soul remain, it makes a living state. Death will no more mix with life, than will night with day.
CHAP. LII.--ALL KINDS OF DEATH A VIOLENCE TO NATURE, ARISING FROM SIN.--SIN AN INTRUSION UPON NATURE AS GOD CREATED IT.
Such, then, is the work of death--the separation of the soul from the body. Putting out of the question fates and fortuitous circumstances, it has been, according to men's views, distinguished in a twofold form--the ordinary and the extraordinary. The ordinary they ascribe to nature, exercising its quiet influence in the case of each individual decease; the extraordinary is said to be contrary to nature, happening in every violent death. As for our own views, indeed, we know what was man's origin, and we boldly assert and persistently maintain that death happens not by way of natural consequence to man, but owing to a fault and defect which is not itself natural; although it is easy enough, no doubt, to apply the term natural to faults and circumstances which seem to have been (though from the emergence of an external cause(1) ) inseparable to us from our very birth. If man had been directly appointed to die as the condition of his creation,(2) then of course death must be imputed to nature. Now, that he was not thus appointed to die, is proved by the very law which made his condition depend on a warning, and death result from man's arbitrary choice. Indeed, if he had not sinned, he certainly would not have died. That cannot be nature which happens by the exercise of volition after an alternative has been proposed to it, and not by necessity--the result of an inflexible and unalterable condition. Consequently, although death has various issues, inasmuch as its causes are manifold, we cannot say that the easiest death is so gentle as not to happen by violence (to our nature). The very law which produces death, simple though it be, is yet violence. How can it be otherwise, when so close a companionship of soul and body, so inseparable a growth together from their very conception of two sister substances, is sundered and divided? For although a man may breathe his last for joy, like the Spartan Chilon, while embracing his son who had just conquered in the Olympic games; or for glory, like the Athenian Clidemus, while receiving a crown of gold for the excellence of his historical writings; or in a dream, like Plato; or in a fit of laughter, like Publius Crassus,--yet death is much too violent, coming as it does upon us by strange and alien means, expelling the soul by a method all its own, calling on us to die at a moment when one might live a jocund life in joy and honour, in peace and pleasure. That is still a violence to ships: although far away from the Capharean rocks, assailed by no storms, without a billow to shatter them, with favouring gale, in gliding course, with merry crews, they founder amidst entire security, suddenly, owing to some internal shock. Not dissimilar are the shipwrecks of life,--the issues of even a tranquil death. It matters not whether the vessel of the human body goes with unbroken timbers or shattered with storms, if the navigation of the soul be overthrown.
CHAP. LIII.--THE ENTIRE SOUL BEING INDIVISIBLE REMAINS TO THE LAST ACT OF VITALITY; NEVER PARTIALLY OR FRACTIONALLY WITHDRAWN FROM THE BODY.
But where at last will the soul have to lodge, when it is bare and divested of the body? We must certainly not hesitate to follow it thither, in the order of our inquiry. We must, however, first of all fully state what belongs to the topic before us, in order that no one, because we have mentioned the various issues of death, may expect from us a special description of these, which ought rather to be left to medical men, who are the proper judges of the incidents which appertain to death, or its causes, and the actual conditions of the human body. Of course, with the view of preserving the truth of the soul's immortality, whilst treating this topic, I shall have, on mentioning death, to introduce phrases about dissolution of such a purport as seems to intimate that the soul escapes by degrees, and piece by piece; for it withdraws (from the body) with all the circumstances of a decline, seeming to suffer consumption, and suggests to us the idea of being annihilated by the slow process of its departure. But the entire reason of this phenomenon is in the body, and arises from the body. For whatever be the kind of death (which operates on man), it undoubtedly produces the destruction either of the matter, or of the region, or of the passages of vitality: of the matter, such as the gall and the blood; of the region, such as the heart and the liver; of the passages, such as the veins and the arteries. Inasmuch, then, as these parts of the body are severally devastated by an injury proper to each of them, even to the very last ruin and annulling of the vital powers--in other words, of the ends, the sites, and the functions of nature--it must needs come to pass, amidst the gradual decay of its instruments, domiciles, and spaces, that the soul also itself, being driven to abandon each successive part, assumes the appearance of being lessened to nothing; in some such manner as a charioteer is assumed to have himself failed, when his horses, through fatigue, withdraw from him their energies. But this assumption applies only to the circumstances of the despoiled person, not to any real condition of suffering. Likewise the body's charioteer, the animal spirit, fails on account of the failure of its vehicle, not of itself--abandoning its work, but not its vigour--languishing in operation, but not in essential condition--bankrupt in solvency, not in substance--be-cause ceasing to put in an appearance, but not ceasing to exist. Thus every rapid death--such as a decapitation, or a breaking of the neck,(1) which opens at once a vast outlet for the soul; or a sudden ruin, which at a stroke crushes every vital action, like that inner ruin apoplexy--retards not the soul's escape, nor painfully separates its departure into successive moments. Where, however, the death is a lingering one, the soul abandons its position in the way in which it is itself abandoned. And yet it is not by this process severed in fractions: it is slowly drawn out; and whilst thus extracted, it causes the last remnant to seem to be but a part of itself. No portion, however, must be deemed separable, because it is the last; nor, because it is a small one, must it be regarded as susceptible of dissolution. Accordant with a series is its end, and the middle is prolonged to the extremes; and the remnants cohere to the mass, and are waited for, but never abandoned by it. And I will even venture to say, that the last of a whole is the whole; because while it is less, and the latest, it yet belongs to the whole, and completes it. Hence, indeed, many times it happens that the soul in its actual separation is more powerfully agitated with a more anxious gaze, and a quickened loquacity; whilst from the loftier and freer position in which it is now placed, it enunciates, by means of its last remnant still lingering in the flesh, what it sees, what it hears, and what it: is beginning to know. In Platonic phrase, indeed, the body is a prison,(2) but in the apostle's it is "the temple of God,"(3) because it is in Christ. Still, (as must be admitted,) by reason of its enclosure it obstructs and obscures the soul, and sullies it by the concretion of the flesh; whence it happens that the light which illumines objects comes in upon the soul in a more confused manner, as if through a window of horn. Undoubtedly, when the soul, by the power of death, is released from its concretion with the flesh, it is by the very release cleansed and purified: it Is, moreover, certain that it escapes from the veil of the flesh into open space, to its clear, and pure, and intrinsic light; and then finds itself enjoying its enfranchisement from matter, and by virtue of its liberty it recovers its divinity, as one who awakes out of sleep passes from images to verities. Then it tells out what it sees; then it exults or it fears, according as it finds what lodging is prepared for it, as soon as it sees the very angel's face, that arraigner of souls, the Mercury of the poets.
CHAP. LIV.--WHITHER DOES THE SOUL RETIRE WHEN IT QUITS THE BODY? OPINIONS OF PHILOSOPHERS ALL MORE OR LESS ABSURD. THE HADES OF PLATO.
To the question, therefore, whither the soul is withdrawn, we now give an answer. Almost all the philosophers, who hold the soul's immortality, notwithstanding their special views on the subject, still claim for it this (eternal condition), as Pythagoras, and Empedocles, and Plato, and as they who indulge it with some delay from the time of its quitting the flesh to the conflagration of all things, and as the Stoics, who place only their own souls, that is, the souls of the wise, in the mansions above. Plato, it is true, does not allow this destination to all the souls, indiscriminately, of even all the philosophers, but only of those who have cultivated their philosophy out of love to boys. So great is the privilege which impurity obtains at the hands of philosophers! In his system, then, the souls of the wise are carried up on high into the ether: according to Arius,(4) into the, air; according to the Stoics, into the moon. I wonder, indeed, that they abandon to the earth the souls of the unwise, when they affirm that even these are instructed by the wise, so much their superiors. For where is the school where they can have been instructed in the vast space which divides them? By what means can the pupil-souls have resorted to their teachers, when they are parted from each other by so distant an interval? What profit, too, can any instruction afford them at all in their posthumous state, when they are on the brink of perdition by the universal fire? All other souls they thrust down to Hades, which Plato, in his Phoedo,(1) describes: as the bosom of the earth, where all the filth of the world accumulates, settles, and exhales, and where every separate draught of air only renders denser still the impurities of the seething mass.
CHAP. LV.--THE CHRISTIAN IDEA OF THE POSITION OF HADES; THE BLESSEDNESS OF PARADISE IMMEDIATELY AFTER DEATH. THE PRIVILEGE OF THE MARTYRS.
By ourselves the lower regions (of Hades) are not supposed to be a bare cavity, nor some subterranean sewer of the world, but a vast deep space in the interior of the earth, and a concealed recess in its very bowels; inasmuch as we read that Christ in His death spent three days in the heart of the earth,(2) that is, in the secret inner recess which is hidden in the earth, and enclosed by the earth, and superimposed on the abysmal depths which lie still lower down. Now although Christ is God, yet, being also man, "He died according to the Scriptures,"(3) and "according to the same Scriptures was buried."(4) With the same law of His being He fully complied, by remaining in Hades in the form and condition of a dead man; nor did He ascend into the heights of heaven before descending into the lower parts of the earth, that He might there make the patriarchs and prophets partakers of Himself.(5) (This being the case), you must suppose Hades to be a subterranean region, and keep at arm's length those who are too proud to believe that the souls of the faithful deserve a place in the lower regions.(6) These persons, who are "servants above their Lord, and disciples above their Master,"(7) would no doubt spurn to receive the comfort of the resurrection, if they must expect it in Abraham's bosom. But it was for this purpose, say they, that Christ descended into hell, that we might not ourselves have to descend thither. Well, then, what difference is there between heathens and Christians, if the same prison awaits them all when dead? How, indeed, shall the soul mount up to heaven, where Christ is already sitting at the Father's right hand, when as yet the archangel's trumpet has not been heard by the command of God,(8)--when as yet those whom the coming of the Lord is to find on the earth, have not been caught up into the air to meet Him at His coming,(9) in company with the dead in Christ, who shall be the first to arise?(10) To no one is heaven opened; the earth is still safe for him, I would not say it is shut against him. When the world, indeed, shall pass away, then the kingdom of heaven shall be opened. Shall we then have to sleep high up in ether, with the boy-loving worthies of Plato; or in the air with Arius; or around the moon with the Endymions of the Stoics? No, but in Paradise, you tell me, whither already the patriarchs and prophets have removed from Hades in the retinue of the Lord's resurrection. How is it, then, that the region of Paradise, which as revealed to John in the Spirit lay under the altar,(11) displays no other souls as in it besides the souls of the martyrs? How is it that the most heroic martyr Perpetua on the day of her passion saw only her fellow-martyrs there, in the revelation which she received of Paradise, if it were not that the sword which guarded the entrance permitted none to go in thereat, except those who had died in Christ and not in Adam? A new death for God, even the extraordinary one for Christ, is admitted into the reception-room of mortality, specially altered and adapted to receive the new-comer. Observe, then, the difference between a heathen and a Christian in their death: if you have to lay down your life for God, as the Comforter(12) counsels, it is not in gentle fevers and on soft beds, but in the sharp pains of martyrdom: you must take up the cross and bear it after your Master, as He has Himself instructed you.(13) The sole key to unlock Paradise is your own life's blood.(14) You have a treatise by us,(15) (on Paradise), in which we have established the position that every soul is detained in safe keeping in Hades until the day of the Lord.
CHAP.LVI.--REFUTATION OF THE HOMERIC VIEW OF THE SOUL'S DETENTION FROM HADES OWING TO THE BODY'S BEING UNBURIED. THAT SOULS PREMATURELY SEPARATED FROM THE BODY HAD TO WAIT FOR ADMISSION INTO HADES ALSO REFUTED.
There arises the question, whether this takes place immediately after the soul's departure from the body; whether some souls are detained for special reasons in the meantime here on earth; and whether it is permitted them of their own accord, or by the intervention of authority, to be removed from Hades(1) at some subsequent time? Even such opinions as these are not by any means lacking persons to advance them with confidence. It was believed that the unburied dead were not admitted into the infernal regions before they had received a proper sepulture; as in the case of Homer's Patroclus, who earnestly asks for a burial of Achilles in a dream, on the ground that he could not enter Hades through any other portal, since the souls of the sepulchred dead kept thrusting him away.(2) We know that Homer exhibited more than a poetic licence here; he had in view the fights of the dead. Proportioned, indeed, to his care for the just honours of the tomb, was his censure of that delay of burial which was injurious to souls. (It was also his purpose to add a warning), that no man should, by detaining in his house the corpse of a friend, only expose himself, along with the deceased, to increased injury and trouble, by the irregularity(3) of the consolation which he nourishes with pain and grief. He has accordingly kept a twofold object in view in picturing the complaints of an unburied soul: he wished to maintain honour to the dead by promptly attending to their funeral, as well as to moderate the feelings of grief which their memory excited. But, after all, how vain is it to suppose that the soul could bear the rites and requirements of the body, or carry any of them away to the infernal regions! And how much vainer still is it, if injury be supposed to accrue to the soul from that neglect of burial which it ought to receive rather as a favour! For surely the soul which had no willingness to die might well prefer as tardy a removal to Hades as possible. It will love the undutiful heir, by whose means it still enjoys the light. If, however, it is certain that injury accrues to the soul from a tardy interment of the body--and the gist of the injury lies in the neglect of the burial--it is yet in the highest degree unfair, that should receive all the injury to which the faulty delay could not possibly be imputed, for of course all the fault rests on the nearest relations of the dead. They also say that those souls which are taken away by a premature death wander about hither and thither until they have completed the residue of the years which they would have lived through, had it not been for their untimely fate. Now either their days are appointed to all men severally, and if so appointed, I cannot suppose them capable of being shortened; or if, notwithstanding such appointment, they may be shortened by the will of God, or some other powerful influence, then (I say) such shortening is of no validity, if they still may be accomplished in some other way. If, on the other hand, they are not appointed, there cannot be any residue to be fulfilled for unappointed periods. I have another remark to make. Suppose it be an infant that dies yet hanging on the breast; or it may be an immature boy; or it may be, once more, a youth arrived at puberty: suppose, moreover, that the life in each case ought to have reached full eighty years, how is it possible that the soul of either could spend the whole of the shortened years here on earth after losing the body by death? One's age cannot be passed without one's body, it being by help of the body that the period of life has its duties and labours transacted. Let our own people, moreover, bear this in mind, that souls are to receive back at the resurrection the self-same bodies in which they died. Therefore our bodies must be expected to resume the same conditions and the same ages, for it is these particulars which impart to bodies their especial modes. By what means, then, can the soul of an infant so spend on earth its residue of years, that it should be able at the resurrection to assume the state of an octogenarian, although it had barely lived a month? Or if it shall be necessary that the appointed days of life be fulfilled here on earth, must the same course of life in all its vicissitudes, which has been itself ordained to accompany the appointed days, be also passed through by the soul along with the days? Must it employ itself in school studies in its passage from infancy to boyhood; play the soldier in the excitement and vigour of youth and earlier manhood; and encounter serious and judicial responsibilities in the graver years between ripe manhood and old age? Must it ply trade for profit, turn up the soil with hoe and plough, go to sea, bring actions at law, get married, toil and labour, undergo illnesses, and whatever casualties of weal and woe await it in the lapse of years? Well, but how are all these transactions to be managed without one's body? Life (spent) without life? But (you will tell me) the destined period in question is to be bare of all incident whatever, only to be accomplished by merely elapsing. What, then, is to prevent its being fulfilled in Hades, where there is absolutely no use to which you can apply it? We therefore maintain that every soul, whatever be its age on quitting the body, remains unchanged in the same, until the time shall come when the promised perfection shall be realized in a state duly tempered to the measure of the peerless angels. Hence those souls must be accounted as passing an exile in Hades, which people are apt to regard as carried off by violence, especially by cruel tortures, such as those of the cross, and the axe, and the sword, and the lion; but we do not account those to be violent deaths which justice awards, that avenger of violence. So then, you will say, it is all the wicked souls that are banished in Hades. (Not quite so fast, is my answer.) I must compel you to determine (what you mean by Hades), which of its two regions, the region of the good or of the bad. If you mean the bad, (all I can say is, that) even now the souls of the wicked deserve to be consigned W those abodes; if you mean the good why should you judge to be unworthy of such a resting-place the souls of infants and of virgins, and(1) those which, by reason of their condition in life were pure and innocent?
CHAP. LVII.--MAGIC AND SORCERY ONLY APPARENT IN THEIR EFFECTS. GOD ALONE CAN RAISE THE DEAD.
It is either a very fine thing to be detained in these infernal regions with the Aori, or souls which were prematurely hurried away; or else a very bad thing indeed to be there associated with the Biaeothanati, who suffered violent deaths. I may be permitted to use the actual words and terms with which magic rings again, that inventor of all these odd opinions--with its Ostanes, and Typhon, and Dardanus, and Damigeron, and Nectabis, and Berenice. There is a well-known popular bit of writing,(2) which undertakes to summon up from the abode of Hades the souls which have actually slept out their full age, and had passed away by an honourable death, and had even been buried with full rites and proper ceremony. What after this shall we say about magic? Say, to be sure, what almost everybody says of it--that it is an imposture. But it is not we Christians only whose notice this system of imposture does not escape. We, it is true, have discovered these spirits of evil, not, to be sure, by a complicity with them, but by a certain knowledge which is hostile to them; nor is it by any procedure which is attractive to them, but by a power which subjugates them that we handle (their wretched system)--that manifold pest of the mind of man, that artificer of all error, that destroyer of our salvation and our soul at one swoop.(3) In this way, even by magic, which is indeed only a second idolatry, wherein they pretend that after death they become demons, just as they were supposed in the first and literal idolatry to become gods (and why not? since the gods are but dead things), the before-mentioned Aori Biaeothanati are actually invoked,--and not unfairly,(4) if one grounds his faith on this principle, that it is clearly credible for those souls to be beyond all others addicted to violence and wrong, which with violence and wrong have been hurried away by a cruel and premature death and which would have a keen appetite for reprisals. Under cover, however, of these souls, demons operate, especially such as used to dwell in them when they were in life, and who had driven them, in fact, to the fate which had at last carried them off. For, as we have already suggested,(5) there is hardly a human being who is unattended by a demon; and it is well known to many, that premature and violent deaths, which men ascribe to accidents, are in fact brought about by demons. This imposture of the evil spirit lying concealed in the persons of the dead, we are able, if I mistake not, to prove by actual facts, when in cases of exorcism (the evil spirit) affirms himself sometimes to be one of the relatives(6) of the person possessed by him, sometimes a gladiator or a bestiarius,(7) and sometimes even a god; always making it one of his chief cares to extinguish the very truth which we are proclaiming, that men may not readily believe that all souls remove to Hades, and that they may overthrow faith in the resurrection and the judgment. And yet for all that, the demon, after trying to circumvent the bystanders, is vanquished by the pressure of divine grace, and sorely against his will confesses all the truth. So also in that other kind of magic, which is supposed to bring up from Hades the souls now resting there, and to exhibit them to public view, there is no other expedient of imposture ever resorted to which operates more powerfully. Of course, why a phantom becomes visible, is because a body is also attached to it; and it is no difficult matter to delude the external vision of a man whose mental eye it is so easy to blind. The serpents which emerged from the magicians' rods, certainly appeared to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians as bodily substances. It is true that the verity of Moses swallowed up their lying deceit.(1) Many attempts were also wrought against the apostles by the sorcerers Simon and Elymas,(2) but the blindness which struck (them) was no enchanter's trick. What novelty is there in the effort of an unclean spirit to counterfeit the truth? At this very time, even, the heretical dupes of this same Simon (Magus) are so much elated by the extravagant pretensions of their art, that they undertake to bring up from Hades the souls of the prophets themselves. And I suppose that they can do so under cover of a lying wonder. For, indeed, it was no less than this that was anciently permitted to the Pythonic (or ventriloquistic) spirit(3)--even to represent the soul of Samuel, when Saul consulted the dead, after (losing the living) God.(3) God forbid, however, that we should suppose that the soul of any saint, much less of a prophet, can be dragged out of (its resting-place in Hades) by a demon. We know that "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light"(5)--much more into a man of light--and that at last he will "show himself to be even God,"(6) and will exhibit "great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, he shall deceive the very elect."(7) He hardly(8) hesitated on the before-mentioned occasion to affirm himself to be a prophet of God, and especially to Saul, in whom he was then actually dwelling. You must not imagine that he who produced the phantom was one, and he who consulted it was another; but that it was one and the same spirit, both in the sorceress and in the apostate (king), which easily pretended an apparition of that which it had already prepared them to believe as real--(even the spirit) through whose evil influence Saul's heart was fixed where his treasure was, and where certainly God was not. Therefore it came about, that he saw him through whose aid he believed that he was going to see, because he believed him through whose help he saw. But we are met with the objection, that in visions of the night dead persons are not unfrequently seen, and that for a set purpose.(9) For instance, the Nasamones consult private oracles by frequent and lengthened visits to the sepulchres of their relatives, as one may find in Heraclides, or Nymphodorus, or Herodotus;(10) and the Celts, for the game purpose, stay away all night at the tombs of their brave chieftains, as Nicander affirms. Well, we admit apparitions of dead persons in dreams to be not more really true than those of living persons; but we apply the same estimate to all alike--to the dead and to the living, and indeed to all the phenomena which are seen. Now things are not true because they appear to be so, but because they are fully proved to be so. The truth of dreams is declared from the realization, not the aspect. Moreover, the fact that Hades is not in any case opened for (the escape of) any soul, has been firmly established by the Lord in the person of Abraham, in His representation of the poor man at rest and the rich man in torment.(11) No one, (he said,) could possibly be despatched from those abodes to report to us how matters went in the nether regions,--a purpose which, (if any could be,) might have been allowable on such an occasion, to persuade a belief in Moses and the prophets. The power of God has, no doubt, sometimes recalled men's souls to their bodies, as a proof of His own transcendent rights; but there must never be, because of this fact, any agreement supposed to be possible between the divine faith and the arrogant pretensions of sorcerers, and the imposture of dreams, and the licence of poets. But yet in all cases of a true resurrection, when the power of God recalls souls to their bodies, either by the agency of prophets, or of Christ, or of apostles, a complete presumption is afforded us, by the solid, palpable, and ascertained reality (of the revived body), that its true form must be such as to compel one's belief of the fraudulence of every incorporeal apparition of dead persons.
CHAP. LVIII.--CONCLUSION. POINTS POSTPONED. ALL SOULS ARE KEPT IN HADES UNTIL THE RESURRECTION, ANTICIPATING THEIR ULTIMATE MISERY OR BLISS.
All souls, therefore; are shut up within Hades: do you admit this? (It is true, whether) you say yes or no: moreover, there are already experienced there punishments and consolations; and there you have a poor man and a rich. And now, having postponed some stray questions(12) for this part of my work, I will notice them in this suitable place, and then come to a close. Why, then, cannot you suppose that the soul undergoes punishment and consolation in Hades in the interval, while it awaits its alternative of judgment, in a certain anticipation either of gloom or of glory? You reply: Because in the judgment of God its matter ought to be sure and safe, nor should there be any inkling beforehand of the award of His sentence; and also because (the soul) ought to be covered first by its vestment(1) of the restored flesh, which, as the partner of its actions, should be also a sharer in its recompense. What, then, is to take place in that interval? Shall we sleep? But souls do not sleep even when men are alive: it is indeed the business of bodies to sleep, to which also belongs death itself, no less than its mirror and counterfeit sleep. Or will you have it, that nothing is there done whither the whole human race is attracted, and whither all man's expectation is postponed for safe keeping? Do you think this state is a foretaste of judgment, or its actual commencement? a premature encroachment on it, or the first course in its full ministration? Now really, would it not be the highest possible injustice, even(2) in Hades, if all were to be still well with the guilty even there, and not well with the righteous even yet? What, would you have hope be still more confused after death? would you have it mock us still more with uncertain expectation? or shall it now become a review of past life, and an arranging of judgment, with the inevitable feeling of a trembling fear? But, again, must the soul always tarry for the body, in order to experience sorrow or joy? Is it not sufficient, even of itself, to suffer both one and the other of these sensations? How often, without any pain to the body, is the soul alone tortured by ill-temper, and anger, and fatigue, and very often unconsciously, even to itself? How often, too, on the other hand, amidst bodily suffering, does the soul seek out for itself some furtive joy, and withdraw for the moment from the body's importunate society? I am mistaken if the soul is not in the habit, indeed, solitary and alone, of rejoicing and glorifying over the very tortures of the body. Look for instance, at the soul of Mutius Scoevola as he melts his right hand over the fire; look also at Zeno's, as the torments of Dionysius pass over it.(3) The bites of wild beasts are a glory to young heroes, as on Cyrus were the scars of the bear.(4) Full well, then, does the soul even in Hades know how to joy and to sorrow even without the body; since when in the flesh it feels pain when it likes, though the body is unhurt; and when it likes it feels joy though the body is in pain. Now if such sensations occur at its will during life, how much rather may they not happen after death by the judicial appointment of God! Moreover, the soul executes not all its operations with the ministration of the flesh; for the judgment of God pursues even simple cogitations and the merest volitions. "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."(5) Therefore, even for this cause it is most fitting that the soul, without at all waiting for the flesh, should be punished for what it has done without the partnership of the flesh. So, on the same principle, in return for the pious and kindly thoughts in which it shared not the help of the flesh, shall it without the flesh receive its consolation. Nay more,(6) even in matters done through the flesh the soul is the first to conceive them, the first to arrange them, the first to authorize them, the first to precipitate them into acts. And even if it is sometimes unwilling to act, it is still the first to treat the object which it means to effect by help of the body. In no case, indeed, can an accomplished fact be prior to the mental conception(7) thereof. It is therefore quite in keeping with this order of things, that that part of our nature should be the first to have the recompense and reward to which they are due on account of its priority. In short, inasmuch as we understand "the prison" pointed out in the Gospel to be Hades,(8) and as we also interpret "the uttermost farthing"(9) to mean the very smallest offence which has to be recompensed there before the resurrection,(10) no one will hesitate to believe that the soul undergoes in Hades some compensatory discipline, without prejudice to the full process of the resurrection, when the recompense will be administered through the flesh besides. This point the Paraclete has also pressed home on our attention in most frequent admonitions, whenever any of us has admitted the force of His words from a knowledge of His promised spiritual disclosures.(11) And now at last having, as I believe, encountered every human opinion concerning the soul, and tried its character by the teaching of (our holy faith,) we have satisfied the curiosity which is simply a reasonable and necessary one. As for that which is extravagant and idle, there will evermore be as great a defect in its information, as there has been exaggeration and self-will in its researches.