« AnteriorContinuar »
themselves are beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them; as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preëminence above a beast; for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again." (Eccl. iii, 19, 20.) But yet there is a wide and eternal distinction between man and the brute: “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth.” (Eccl. iii, 21.)
II. MAN POSSESSES A LIVING SOUL.
As the crowning work of creation was the production of man, so the crowning work in the formation of man was the imparting from the living God of a soul or spirit that was to animate the material temple. The Temple of old was not left without the indwelling glory of God; so also this fair structure of the human body received its complement in an indwelling soul. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” This is a distinct announcement that the soul of man is something different in its origin and distinct in its character from the body. The one is formed from “the dust of the ground," the other emanated from the breath of the Almighty. The one is “dụst," the other “a living soul.” The soul is not a part of the physical structure, does not grow out of it, but is superadded to it. The mysterious combination of these two elements in man completed the work of his creation.
Breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. The Hebrew has the plural, breath of lives. Whether, as some have supposed, this implies that man is endowed with the
vegetative life of plants, the sensitive life of animals, and also the higher life that distinguishes spiritual beings; or, indeed, whether any peculiar force of meaning is to be attached to the mere circumstance of plurality of form, it is difficult to determine. Nor is the determination of the question essential to our present purpose; as it now concerns us only to show that to man was imparted a higher nature than that which is merely animal. In fine, we claim that it was the intention of Inspiration to assert for man all that we understand to be implied in the possession of a “living soul” breathed from God, and “a spirit” inspired with understanding from the Almighty.
And man became a living soul. That the Hebrew word nephesh is, in other places, applied to living animals, reptiles, creeping creatures upon the earth, and also to other things, does not prove that it can not here be employed to express what we mean by the word soul, or living soul. Even with us, though the word soul has come to have a technical and definite meaning, nothing is more common thau to use it outside of that meaning—as when a vessel founders at sea, and we say, every soul on board perished, meaning simply that every person on board lost his life. The fact is, there is no single word in Biblical Hebrew, answering in fixed and definite import to either of the English words soul and body. The same is true of the Greek, and also of the Latin. But both body and soul, as distinguished from each other, and as embodying the ideas attached to these words in our current English, are distinctly recognized and taught in the Bible. If, then, the intrinsic nature of the soul is not disclosed by the import of the Hebraic terms used to denote it, it is not because that nature is not recognized, but because human language was then destitute of an appropriate word which might be thus employed. The same remarks, in a greater or less degree, are applicable to the other Hebrew words ruahh, neshamah, etc., expressed by the words soul, spirit, etc. And is it not thus also with the English word soul? Even the question of its origin is unsettled, much less has its philological import been made to appear. And yet it has come to have a known and acknowledged signification. It may be said to have grown into this signification, or by gradual process come to be appropriated to this use; so that now, whenever used, we take it to mean the spiritual and immortal nature, unless the connections in which it stands determine some other signification.
Whatever, then, may be said of the philological import of the Hebrew term rendered by the words living soul, the connections of the term when used in relation to the creation and endowment of man, fully establish the high sense in which it is used. In the creation of unintellectual animals God said, Let the earth bring them forth. Nothing is said about breathing into them the breath of life. Then, too, man was to be modeled after a higher type. Let us make man after our own image and likeness. Higher purposes were to be accomplished in his being. He was to have dominion over the animal creation. It was to be a wide dominion, including all animal kind in the sea, upon the earth, and in the air. That dominion, too, was to spread over every herb bearing seed, and every tree which is upon the face of all the earth. The circumstances and the objects of man's creation are such as would indicate a new and higher order of endowment. This is still further confirmed by the importance attached to his creation in the councils of the Creator. The persons in the Godhead, and it may be the higher order of angelic beings, seem to have been summoned into council over his creation. Nothing can be more clear than that all this is implied in the expression, “ Let us make." If by the breath of lives is simply meant that the animal man began then to use his organs of respiration, began to breathe, why is the case mentioned at all in contradistinction from the creation of the unintellectual animals? While, then, man is possessed of the breath of animal life, the plan, the design, the circumstances of his creation, and especially the Divine origin of the higher principle of the life that is within him, render the conclusion inevitable, that superadded to his merely animal life is another life that of the soul.
It will be seen by the above, that we are not to look exclusively to the philological meaning of the words employed to express soul or spirit, to demonstrate this higher endowment in the life of man; we claim simply that there is nothing, so far as is known, in the philological meaning of the words that would lie in the way of this use; we claim that the terms were actually employed to express this higher endowment; and that the distinction of spirit, as something different from the body; something different from animal life; something more Divine, more nearly allied to God, and with different relations to eternity, is brought to light in a thousand ways all through the Bible. In fact, it is a doctrine that permeates all revelation, and gives to it its sublime applicability and force of teaching. No one can read the Bible without being impressed with the fact that it as fully recognizes the soul as a distinct essence, as it does the body. The inference, then, made by some, that because the term living soul is sometimes applied to animals, reptiles, vegetables, etc., therefore each is endowed with intellectual and immortal faculties, or that none are thus endowed, is equally invalid. It no more follows, than it does when you say of a wrecked ship, every soul on board perished, that the spiritual nature of each one was annihilated, rather than their lives lost. The full force and contents of the term “living soul,” as applied to man, is seen only when we place it by the side of that declaration of that God who is both “life” and “spirit,” “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Gen. i, 26.) This certainly means something more than that man was made an UPRIGHT ANIMAL WALKING ON TWO FEET!
Man became a living soul. The Greek term Quyn has for its dominant meaning, life, as indicated by the act of breathing. It is distinguished from another Greek term, Śwn, which is also rendered life. In John xii, 25, we meet those two terms in a connection which goes very far toward determining the original sense in which each was used: “He that hateth his life (Au27) in this world shall keep it unto life (5wny) eternal.” It is evident, then, that the former has special reference to the principle of life manifested in connection with bodily organization; the latter to the higher element of spiritual existence. The terms living soul—or, as more frequently used, the simple term soul-indicate, as applied to man, a higher than mere animal life. This is the term employed by the apostle when he said, speaking of the "first Adam," the type of humanity, that he was made a living soul (els turi būsav.) We use the term soul to express the spiritual element of our nature—that element which knows, and thinks, and reasons, and possesses a judgment of right and wrong. The operations of the soul are diversified, but its distinct individuality and the unity of its nature rest upon the firmest basis of reason and truth. Sensation, reason, memory, imagination, will, and conscience are expressive of so many
different modes of the soul's action. But they leave its unity untouched. They are so many capabilities, properties, or manifestations of the intelligent substance whose being and action are made known by them. These are the phenomena through which we are introduced to the knowledge of the soul, and in the light of which we must study its character.