13. The author from whom we are quoting follows up the foregoing picture with the following reflections, the importance of which will be easily perceived by the reader:
“The resurrection of the body is in itself a miracle; but God will work a second miracle in giving to the mortal bodies thus raised—bodies that have already been worn out by the passing trials of life, that have already been annihilated—the power to subsist, without dissolving in a furnace in which all the metals would be converted to vapor. If it be urged that the soul is its own executioner, that God does not persecute the sinner but abandons him to the state of misery he has brought upon himself by his own choice, that statement may be admitted as true, although the eternal abandonment of a lost and suffering being would seem to be but little in conformity with the goodness of the Creator; but what may be admissible in regard to the soul and to spiritual sufferings cannot be, in any degree, admissible in regard to the resuscitated bodies and corporeal suffering of the damned. In order that these sufferings may be perpetuated throughout eternity, it is not enough that God should withdraw His hand; it is necessary, on the contrary, that He should show His hand that He should intervene, that He should act; for, without the constant action of His power in maintaining their existence, those bodies would be immediately destroyed.
“Theologians, therefore, assume that God operates, after the resurrection, the second miracle to which we have just referred. He draws, in the first place, from the sepulcher that has devoured them, our bodies of clay. He raises them, from the grave, such as they were when they were committed to its keeping, with all their original infirmities and all the degradations they have successively undergone from age, vice, and disease; He gives them back to us in that state, decrepit, shivering, gouty, full of physical needs, sensitive to the sting of the minutest insect, covered with the ignoble stains that our life and our death have left in them; this is the first miracle. Next, to these weak wretched bodies, ready to crumble away into the dust from which they have been taken, He imparts a property that they never before possessed; and this is the second miracle: that is to say, He inflicts upon them the gift of immortality, that same gift which, in His anger—or, should we not rather say, in His mercy? — He withdrew from Adam when the latter was driven out of Eden.
“While Adam remained immortal, he was invulnerable; and, when he ceased to be invulnerable, he became mortal: death followed close upon the heels of pain.
“The resurrection, then, does not restore to us either the physical conditions of the innocent man or the physical conditions of the guilty man; it is a resurrection only of our miseries, but with the addition of new miseries infinitely more horrible; it is, in fact, and as regards the immortality of the bodies thus raised, a new creation, and the most malicious act the human imagination has ever dared to conceive of. God alters His mind and, in order to add to the spiritual torments of sinners fleshly torments that shall endure forever, He suddenly changes by an act of His power, the laws and properties that He Himself assigned in the beginning, to all bodies formed from matter: He resuscitates diseased and rotten flesh, and joining in an indestructible union, the material elements which tend spontaneously to separate from each other, He maintains and perpetuates this living rottenness; He throws it into the fire, not in order to purify it, but to preserve it just as it is, sensitive, suffering, burning, horrible, and in this state by His will, He renders it immortal.
“By attributing such a miracle to God, Christian theologians represent Him as one of the executioners of Hell; for, although the damned can only attribute their spiritual sufferings to themselves, they can only attribute their fleshly sufferings to a direct exercise of His power. It is not enough, apparently, for God to abandon the souls of the guilty, after their death, to sorrow, to remorse, to the anguish of knowing that they have shut themselves out from happiness forever; His power, according to theologians, pursues them through the darkest recesses of this abyss of horror, seeks them out from this night of misery and drags them back, for a moment, to the light of day, not to console them, but to clothe them with a hideous, putrid, flaming, but imperishable body, more pestiferous than the robe of Dejanira; and it is only then that He abandons them to their fate.
“But, no; He does not, even then, simply leave them to their fate; for Hell only subsists, like the Earth, like Heaven, in virtue of a permanent action of His will, and, like them, would vanish into nothingness if He ceased to sustain its existence. His hand will therefore be laid upon the damned, throughout eternity, to prevent their fire from burning itself out and their bodies from being consumed; and He will do this, incessantly, in order that the sight of the perennial tortures of these wretched beings, thus cursed by Him with immortality, may intensify the happiness of the elect.”