(c. 160 AD - c. 220)
Shall that very flesh,
which the Creator formed with his own hands in the image of God;
which he animated with his own breath, after the likeness of his own vitality;
which he set over all the works of his hand, to dwell amongst, to enjoy, and to rule them;
which he clothed with his sacraments and his instructions;
shall that flesh, I say, so often brought near to God, not rise again? God forbid, God forbid, (I repeat), that God should abandon to everlasting destruction the body, which is:
the labour of his own hands,
the care of his own thoughts,
the receptacle of his own Spirit,
the queen of his creation,
the inheritor of his own liberality,
the priestess of his religion,
the champion of his testimony,
the sister of his Christ!
We know by experience the goodness of God; from Christ we learn that he is the only God. Now, as he requires from us love of neighbour after love of God, so he will himself do that which he has commanded us to do. He will love the flesh which is so very closely and in so many ways his neighbour. He will love it:
although it is infirm, since his strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9);
although disordered, since "those who are well do not need the physician, but only those who are sick" (Lk 5:31);
although not honourable, since "we bestow more abundant honour upon the less honourable members" (1 Cor. 12:23);
although ruined, since he says, "I have come to save that which was lost" (Lk 19:10);
although sinful, since he says, "I desire rather the salvation of the sinner than his death" (Ezek. 18:23);
although condemned, for he says, "I shall wound, and also heal" (Deut. 32:39).
Why reproach the flesh with those conditions which wait for God, which hope in God, which receive honour and help from God? I venture to declare, that if such casualties as these had never befallen the flesh, then the bounty, the grace, the mercy, and indeed all the beneficent power of God, would have had no opportunity to work.