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175 SECTION II. On the Immortality of the Soul. In the history of the creation, the distinction between man and the inferior animals is marked, not by his receiving from the Lord the breath of life, not by his becoming (to adopt the words of our translators) a living soul—but by his being formed in the image, and after the likeness, of the Most High God. That he was so formed in a moral point of view--that he was created after God in righteousness and true holiness”—we shall presently find occasion to observe. But these comprehensive expressions probably include the notion of all those characteristics of humanity which elevate us far above all the lower animals, and from which we derive a faint resemblance to the Author of our being. Among these characteristics are obviously to be reckoned our faculties of thought, reflection, and reason, by which we are enabled to enjoy communion with our Creator, and, in pursuance of his own edict, to exercise dominion over all inferior living creatures: see Gen. i, 26; comp. Ps. viii, 6. Yet the declaration, that man was formed in the image of God, has, in all probability, a yet more especial reference to an eternity of existence-to the doctrine that we are endowed with a spiritual substance, which survives the dissolution of its earthly tenement, and lives for ever. "For God created man to be immortal,” says the ancient, though probably uninspired, author of the Book of Wisdom, “and made him to be an image of his own eternity:" ch. ii, 23.8
This higher part of man, which perishes not with his outward frame, and of which his intellectual faculties (though exercised through the instrumentality of
8 Such is the explanation given of the image of God in man by Tertullian. “ Habent illas ubique lineas Dei, quâ immortalis anima, quâ libera et sui arbitrii, quâ præscia plerumque, quâ rationalis, capax intellectus et scientiæ." Contra Marcion. lib. ii, cap. 9.
[Ess. ix. bodily organs) may be regarded as an essential property, appears to be very distinctly alluded to in several passages of Scripture, and is by the sacred writers denominated sometimes the spirit, and sometimes the soul.
It is generally supposed, that Solomon was speaking of the never-dying soul, as it is distinguished from the mere instinctive spirit of beasts, when, in his preaching, he cried, saying, "Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth ?" Eccl. iii, 21. So again, in describing the death of man, “ Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it :" xii, 7. When Isaiah wrote, “ Hear, and your soul shall live:” -Ezekiel, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die:"Micah, “ Shall I give the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul ?” Isa. lv, 3; Ezek. xviii, 20; Mic. vi, 7; it is by no means improbable that these prophets severally attached to the word “soul" the meaning in which we are ourselves accustomed to employ it—that of the essential and responsible part of man. In the New Testament there are various passages to the same effect. Thus it must surely be allowed, that Stephen was speaking, not of his material breath, but of his immortal soul, when, in the view of immediate death, he lifted up the voice of supplication, saying, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit :" Acts vii, 59. When the apostles wrote of the salvation of the soul, the purification of the soul, and the confidence of the soul in its Redeemer, see James i, 21; v, 20; 1 Pet. i, 9, 22; Heb. vi, 19; we may reasonably conclude, that by the soul they intended to express the never-dying spirit within us. Again, in the book of Revelation, we read that the apostle John, in his vision, beheld under the altar, “the souls of them that were slain for the word
177 of God,” vi, 9,-“the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God :" xx, 4. Lastly, our Lord himself appears to have employed the word “soul” in this peculiar sense, when he said to his disciples, “Fear not them which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul : but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell:" Matt. x, 28.
When Jesus thus exhorted his followers, he plainly promulgated the doctrine, that, although men are able to destroy the bodies of one another, they have no power to annihilate the soul—that, in other words, the annihilation of the soul is not effected by the death or destruction of the body-that when the body dies, therefore, the soul continues to exist. The body, which is justly described, by two inspiried apostles, as the "tabernacle”-the tent in which the soul resides for a season-is laid aside in death, and is presently resolved into its original dust, see 2 Cor. v, 1; 2 Pet.i, 13; but the higher and more essential part of man, although invisible to mortal eye, preserves its identity, and is introduced to a new sphere of existence and action-a new scene either of pain or of pleasure. | That, during the interval which takes place between
the death of the body and the resurrection of the dead, man is not in a state of absolute insensibility or annihilation, as some persons have vainly imagined, but in a condition either of suffering or of rejoicing, the New Testament contains a variety of evidence, which, although in some degree indirect, is nevertheless clear and satisfactory.
First, with respect to the impenitent wicked, their lot, during the separate state of existence, is described as one of pain and punishment, or, in language more or less metaphorical (and in what degree it is metaphorical no man can pretend to decide), as one of fire
Ess. ix.] and imprisonment. Although our Lord's parable of the rich man and Lazarus probably presents to our view a fictitious history, yet we have
every reason to allow that the doctrines which it so clearly conveys to our understanding are the doctrines of absolute truth. The rich man, who refused to exercise the offices of Christian charity towards his afflicted neighbour dies : and, while his body is mouldering in the grave--while his relations are continuing to live on the earth-he is himself described as being in hell, a victim to the devouring flames: Luke xvi, 23. Again, we read, in a passage of the First Epistle of Peter, that Jesus Christ was "put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit; by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison ; which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah;" 1 Pet. iii, 18—20. Although this passage is in some respects of doubtful interpretation, it will, I believe, be found to be explicit as far as relates to the point now before us. For, whether we understand it as declaratory of the doctrine, that Jesus, after his crucifixion, “ descended into hell,” or as conveying the far more probable idea, that, in his preexistence and divine nature, he preached to the antediluvians by his prophet Noah,-it is evident that the apostle speaks of the spirits of that ancient race of sinners, as being, at the time when he wrote" in prison.” 9
Secondly, with respect to the righteous, we are again and again instructed that they live after the death of the body, and live in happiness. When Lazarus, in the parable, escaped from those shackles of mortality
9 Vide Schleusner. Lex. voc. Tvūna, No. 4. "De defunctorum animis TVEūLese quoque legitur, Heb. xiii, 23 ; 1 Pet. iii, 19; ubi, per rà év Quraxõ Tvěúlata, animæ flagitiosorum, Noachi crævorum, corpore exules, intelligendæ sunt.”