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made an immortal being, with innocence, intelligence, and happiness; immortal in soul; immortal, also, in body, on certain condition, as we are afterwards acquainted. Much has been said with regard to the expression
man became a living soul.” Argument has been drawn from it, both for and against the original immortality of man. Because the word “soul” is employed in other parts of the sacred history to signify man, man in his mortal or present character, it has been taken to mean no other than a living person, and so to be applicable to any animate being which has not the superior intelligence of man, as well as to man himself; and, by consequence, we are left entirely without original revealed account of the immortality of man. By others, it has been made to signify the faculty of reason with which he is endued. By others, it is interpreted as the absolute conferring of immortality upon him. The narrowness of the principle, upon which the two former arguments are raised, is self-evident. If we rest on either of them, we are in palpable error, if only, because, rejecting this passage as accounting for the immortality of man, we have no other on which to depend: but, besides this, can we say, that that, call it soul, or what we will, which was breathed by the Creator, and not made of earth, would have had a concurrent existence with any thing of earth? We call that mortal, which depends on mortal sustenance; and which, when that mortal sustenance is withdrawn, doth perish ; but nothing can depend for
life on mortal sustenance, which is not derived from mortal original : the soul was not derived from mortal original; it was derived from another principle, termed by Moses “the breath of God;" and therefore, when it should become separated from the mortal part, would return to Him from whom it came; and whatever returns to God, we deem immortal : immortality, in truth, is the capacity of returning to God.
In such manner does this passage directly assert the immortality, the primary immortality of man, in a part of him which, for distinction's sake, we call “ the Soul.” Notwithstanding, we shall not be doing full justice to the passage, if we rest here; we shall not be learning from it, all it is designed we should learn; and we shall be assenting, by inference, to a supposition, that Man was created a living being, before he was created an immortal being; a supposition, for which we have no authority, either from scripture, or from reason. Let us hear what the Commentator says: 6 And God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. This being said of no other creature, leads us to conceive not only that the soul of man is a distinct thing, of a different original from his body; but that a more excellent spirit was put into him by God, (as appears by its operations) than into other animals. For though the simple speech of inspiring him with the breath of life would not prove this, yet Moses speaking in the plural number, that God breathed into him the breath or
spirit of lifes, it plainly denotes not only that Spirit which makes Man breathe and move, but think also, and reason, and discourse. And he became a living soul. This is the immediate result of the union of the soul with the body. Which Eusebius thus explains Moses having laid the foundations of Religion before mentioned, viz. The knowledge of God, and of the Creation of the World, proceeds to another point of doctrine most necessary to be understood; which is the knowledge of man's self, to which he leads him by shewing the difference between his soul and his body : his soul being an intelligent substance, made after the image of God; his body, only an earthly covering of the soul. To which Moses adds a thirdA certain vital breath, whereby the other two are united and linked together by a powerful band, or strong tie. His soul, it is manifest, did not come out of the earth, or any power of matter; but from the power of God, who infused it into him by his divine inspiration.” No distinction as to time, is to be admitted in Man's Creation; and, when we read that he “became a living soul,” we learn that he then received his existence in its whole condition and quality. He was made “in the image, and after the likeness” of God, and the process of his creation, was the “breathing into his nostrils the breath of life.” Man, then “ became a living soul.”
He became endued with immortality, and every other property, which it was consistent with reason, that an immortal created being should have. He had no life previously to the instant in which this divine life was given to him: the ground had not been commanded to give any, as in the case of other created beings; whatever life, therefore, he had, was of the direct gift of God. This is the only construction, which will reconcile the matter to our understandings and desires; and it is, likewise, the construction which is most in agreement with the general subject. That men are afterwards called “Souls ;” that the word “Soul” is not always confined in its meaning to the immortal part of man, is a mere imperfectness of speech. It is there used to signify the whole man; and we now use it to signify, but the necessarily immortal part of him—his Spirit. Is Scripture, however, to be judged by any various use of ours of the same word ? Whatever use may be attached to the word, the being, who was “created in the image, and after the likeness” of God, must have been created with a portion of the divine excellence, and of which immortality was the great, the prominent, and the productive member. The high quality, or property, indeed, with which man was endued, was this of immortality, since, without it, all the rest had been essentially imperfect; and, that wanting immortality, he could not be said to have been “ created in the image of God;” there would have been a deficiency in the principal feature: without it, what were all else? they were valueless; they could not have existed. If they could have existed, they would have been a misery to him, and not a happiness. If he had, or could have had, the intelligence he is now master of, and were not immortal, he would be most wretched: knowing that he must some day utterly perish, what value could he set on, what interest could he take in, the highest goods of life? He would, in real condition, be deeply inferior to the beasts that perish : no sensation of fear or distaste of dissolution, interrupts the satisfaction they have in the conscious enjoyment of existence; they have no faculty or intelligence to speak to them of perishing ; though they see death in their own kind, they understand it not; therefore, they tremble not, because of seeing it in others, from apprehension of its approach to themselves. They, then, must err, who would exclude immortality from the meaning of the expression, on which our observation has been fixed; who would not make it an essential part of its meaning; and we cannot otherwise than conclude, that the Creator has designed, that we should from hence have information of the immortality of our original nature. The soul breathed into man was immortal, I repeat, because it was a breath from God: it was derived from no created substance or being. But, there is a question to be settled, as concerning the body. It was not immortal in its original, and we know that it was formed from a material substance, and that, as such, it could not have had immortality naturally belonging to it; nor do these verses say, that there was an absolute immortality attached to it. As it was united to the soul, it became so far a partaker of the soul's immortality: it was immortal, or, more properly to speak, undying, so long as that union lasted upon the original terms, or compact established by the Creator. We