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THE IMMATERIALITY OF THE HUMAN
The right understanding of a sinner's regeneration requires a correct know.
ledge of man's original nature Scriptural account of the creation of man-Gen. i. 26, 27: ii. 7—The image of God consisted not merely in the spiritual nature of man, nor in his lordship over the creatures, nor in his moral qualities peculiarly and exclusively, nor in any designed re. presentation of the form and appearance, but in the three-fold character of life united in one moral being-Inquiry as to what constitutes the life of the rational soul of man—The immateriality of the soul does not prevent us from all knowledge of it-All our knowledge of God analogical2 Cor. xii. 4—The properties of the human soul not those of matterThought is not a quality of simple matter-Nor the result of chemical action-Nor motion-Nor organic action-Nor a secretion of the brainNor a superadded quality of especial organization-Dr. Priestly, Dr. Rush, Mr Jefferson's false mode of reasoning—Priestley's argument based on vague ideas of the properties of matter-Dr. Cooper-Inconsistency of the advocates of materialism-Thought and vibration distinct--Perception and thought, acts, not qualities--Specimen of sophistry-.No alleged incapacity of spirit to act on matter a valid objection against its existence Two monstrous absurdities-Simple method of refuting the errors of the materialist—The naturalist bound to account for the unity of human consciousness—Mere mechanism totally inadequate to account for the phenomena of thought--Objections met.
HAVING given a general definition of life, and shews that the Spirit of God is its immediate author and sustainer, it becomes necessary,
IV. BEFORE WE CAN CONSISTENTLY AND SATISFACTO BILY TREAT OF THE REGENERATION OF THE SINNER, TO INQUIRE INTO THE PRIMITIVE TEATURES OF MAN'S SPIRITUAL NATURE. We shall in vain attempt to examine a
life re-imparted without some knowledge of it as originally given. Where shall we look for this knowledge with such evident prospect of success, as to the first man when he sprung into life, in all the perfection of his being, directly from the plastic hand of his great Creator?
The account given in the sacred scriptures of the original formation of man, is brief, but nevertheless abundantly satisfactory. That philosophy which rejects the light of revelation can assign no satisfactory cause for the production of the first man. The speculations of some are almost too ridiculous to be even referred to. But the sure word of God, in two or three sentences, gives us the most interesting and satisfactory information. "God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them." “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,"2
Hence we learn the following facts with regard to man's original, viz., that he was created in the image and likeness of God; that his body was made out of pre-existent materials, the dust of the ground; that the breath of life, which is the Spirit of God, was communicated to his corporal frame, and he became a living soul or frame, that is that his life is the direct result of the Spirit's agency.
We have already seen, that the expression in the original is the breath of lives, which, whether it be understood as designating the Spirit of God, or as the life of the creature man, amounts in the end, precisely to the same thing, viz., that man is a compound being, or unites in himself several distinct kinds of life. The Spirit of God would most probably be designated the breath of lives, from the circumstance of His being the author of several forms of life in man, rather than from the fact of His being the universal author of life; for it is common in the scriptures for God to be designated from the particular occasions, or relations, or circumstances under which He is at the time contemplated. If, as some will contend, it is man's life, and not the Spirit of God, which is denoted by this expression, then it cannot be denied that man was originally the subject of several kinds of life.
1 Gen. i. 26, 27.
2 Gen. ä, 7.
We have already seen that there are two distinct kinds of life united in man, viz., that which consists in the appropriate action of the organic parts of the human bodythe vegetable, or as it is technically called the organic life; and that which consists in the appropriate action of the superadded and complicated machinery of nerves and muscles, so essential to sensation and voluntary motionthe distinctive peculiarities of animal life. These are in entire accordance with two of the great classifications which the apostle Paul has made of the constituent parts of man, viz., body and soul. The term which our translators have rendered "soul,"l as has been seen, conveys the idea of animal life. This remark may be of use to the reader of
. the scriptures in more instances than one.
It is obvious, that both these parts of man's being are material--formed of the dust of the ground. There is however another, which the apostle calls "spirit”2 and which he designates by the very term which he employs to denote the Spirit of God. It is in this, that theologians generally consider, we must look for the traces of the divine image in which man was created. As to what constituted that resemblance however, they are not gener
ally agreed. Some allege that it was mere spirituality, others the lordship or sovereignty over the creatures with which he was invested, and others again the moral qualities of his nature, knowledge, righteousness and holiness. It is perhaps safest to adopt neither opinion exclusively; but to trace the likeness in every respect in which true resemblance can be discerned. It is not in one feature only in which we are to trace a likeness, but in the toute ensemble.
There is, however, we apprehend, one important respect in which this resemblance in man to God may be seen, which indeed is generally overlooked, but which, we are disposed to think, is of principal consequence.
It is not one person of the Godhead only who is represented as speaking at the formation of man, but the whole three. Jehovah, the ever-blessed Three in One, said, “let us make man in our image”_not in the image of any one person, nor of each distinctly, but of all conjointly. How admirably are the distinct personality and essential unity of the Godhead represented or imaged in man possessing three distinct kinds of life, and yet constituting but one moral being. In him are united the vegetable, the animal, and the moral or spiritual life, each having and preserving its distinct character, but all combined in one responsible individual.
La support of this explanation of the likeness in which man was originally created, we merely observe, that from the consultation which is represented to have taken place among the persons of the Godhead about his creation, it is obvious this image must have been something different from any thing which had as yet been exhibited in the creatures. It could not have been the spiritual part of man's nature, for “He maketh His angels spirits,”” and man's spiritual nature was greatly obscured by his body, which was formed of the dust of the ground.
1 lleb. 1.7.
It could not nave been the mere lordship which He exercised over the creatures, for this was made a matter of special grant, after that he had been already created in the divine image.
It could not have been exclusively the moral qualities with which he was endowed, for knowledge, righteousness and holiness are the attributes of the angelic, as well as of the human nature.
It could not have been merely as a designed representation of the form and appearance which it was intended the son of God should assume, for He is himself styled "the image of the invisible God," and man, in this respect, would have been not so much the image of God, the three in one, as of Christ the second person. We are therefore compelled to conclude, that man was created the image of the great THREE IN ONE, as he was characterized by this peculiarity among the creatures, that he alone unites in one moral individual the three great orders of life, viz., vegetable, animal and spiritual.
There is therefore abundant proof it would seem, from the very account of man's primitive formation, that there were associated in him several distinct kinds of life. Of the two inferior kinds, the organic or vegetable, and the animal life in man, there is no dispute; nor do they here require explanation. Sufficient has been already advanced in illustration of them. But this cannot be said of the third--the life of the spirit or immortal soul of man. This forms the governing and distinguishing part of human nature. It is the tie which binds man to other worlds. It is the immediate seat of all the higher and ennobling attributes of humanity. In the other parts of his nature, he is directly dependent on and connected with this material world. His body is a part of the earth. But his spirit is dependent on God, and in its appetites and cravings, he aspires after the bliss of his communion.