Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume III/Moral Treatises of St. Augustin/On Care to Be Had for the Dead/Section 11
11. In regard to that woful compassion which I have mentioned, are those praised, and by king David blessed, who to the dry bones of Saul and Jonathan afforded mercy of sepulture. But yet what mercy is that, which is afforded to them that have feeling of nothing? Or haply is this to be challenged back to that conceit of an infernal river which men unburied were not able to pass over? Far be this from the faith of Christians: else hath it gone most ill with so great a multitude of Martyrs, for whom there could be no burying of their bodies, and Truth did cheat them when It said, “Fear not them which kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do,” if these have been able to do to them so great evils, by which they were hindered to pass over to the places which they longed for. But, because this without all doubt is most false, and it neither any whit hurts the faithful to have their bodies denied sepulture, nor any whit the giving of sepulture unto infidels advantageth them; why then are those who buried Saul and his son said to have done mercy, and for this are blessed by that godly king, but because it is a good affection with which the hearts of the pitiful are touched, when they grieve for that in the dead bodies of other men, which, by that affection through which no man ever hateth his own flesh, they would not have done after their own death to their own bodies; and what they would have done by them when they shall have no more feeling, that they take care to do by others now having no feeling while themselves have yet feeling?
- 2 Sam. ii. 5
- Luke xii. 4