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breathed on them, and said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." Not that in His breath, or in the breath of the Almighty, did literally consist the Spirit of God; nor, that at that time, any miraculous or extraordinary power was bestowed on them; but simply, that by this symbolical act He intended, as God had done when He created man in the first instance, to announce to His followers, distinctly, the source of that new vivifying influence, which under the gospel dispensation was as certainly, and as efficiently to be exerted, as was the influence of the spirit of life when man became a living soul.
We are aware, that the phrase breath of life is understood, by some commentators, to denote the different kinds of life which man possesses, animal, intellectual, and spiritual, and not to designate the Spirit of God. With them. however we are constrained to disagree. That it is a distinctive appellation conferred on the Spirit, we think must be apparent, from the consideration, that however true it is that man is a compound being, possessed of different kinds of life, yet the inspired writer seems only to regard the life of Adam's animal rature, for he adds "man became a living soul," that is, according to the import of the original term, a living frame. The expression shews plainly, that regard was principally had to the animation. of Adam's body, and if so, the phrase the breath or spirit of life becomes appellative, and designates the Spirit of God, who is the great author of our animal life, as well as of every other species of life, and is, on this account, sometimes explicitly called the spirit of life, or, literally rendered, the spirit of lives.
1 John, xx. 22.
2 Gen. ii. 7, NEPHESH has various signification. In Lev. xi. 10; it evidently denotes a mere corporal existence-significat proprie id quo animal vivit et velut primario instrumento agit, quod cuique in suo genere agere convenit--Roberts. Thes. p.
But we have still more satisfactory proof of this. From the testimony of Job, of David, and of Moses, we have shewn, that the life of man's animal nature is produced by the Spirit of God. He is also distinctly recognized, and asserted to be the author of life in all its numerous varieties. On this subject, we think the scriptores afford proof sufficient to satisfy every reasonable inquirer. No one certainly can demand, or expect, that, inasmuch as they are not intended to surnish us with a system of zoology, they should enter into minute details, and assert of this and that particular mode of existence, that its life is originated and supported by the Spirit of God. If we can discover that it is true in relation to several different classes of animated being, we may with certainty, infer it to be true in relation to all. But when we explore the scriptures, we shall be surprised to find such a vast mass of information in natural history, that very interesting department of human science, in a book by no means designed to serve the purpose of mere scientific disse tations. The natural history involved in the bible has given birth to numerous and valuable scientific works. What a mass of facts, and what glowing descriptions do we meet with in the book of Job. We shall not cite them, but refer the reader to that beautiful ode the 104th Psalm, which gives as rich a sketch, as it opens an extensive range in natural histury. It commences with a view of the formation of the heavens, and of the foundations of the earth, as ordered by that illustrious Being whose glory in impassioned strains it extols. It introduces to us the highest order of living creatures, the ministering angels of God. It unveils the whole of that stupendous system of veins and arteries, if we may so call them, by which the waters circulate through the body of the earth, and preserve it from putrescence and decay. Aerial, terrestrial and marine apimals, with the whole kingdom of vegetable life, crowd in
upon our view, with here and there a prominent or con. spicuous species. And the whole Psalm concludes with a distinct avowal of the Spirit of God as the great author of this teeming and endless variety of life. “Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created, and thou renewest the face of the earth.'
No further, nor any more explicit proof can be desired. The seraph, glowing in the full ardor of Jehovah's glory, is as absolutely dependent for his life, on the agency of the Spirit of God, as is man, formed of the dust of the ground. Nor does dependence cease here.
He is the great operative and efficient agent that quickens, sustains and promotes the life of all—from man, the image of his maker, to the invisible animalcule. “The eyes of all wait on Him, and He giveth them their meat in due season. He openeth His hand and satisfieth the desire of every living thing."
What a charm does this fact give in the christian's eye to the whole subject of natural history! With what a rich zest of spiritual enjoyment too may he pursue its study! In all that contributes to the beauty, and order of the inorganic , kingdom, whether he looks into the air, the waters, or the earth, he may trace the footsteps of the blessed Spirit of God, the Comforter, who dwells in his own heart. It was under impressions of this sort, the holy Psalmist, as he lay by his flocks in the open air, gazing on the vaulted heavens and the unnumbered and innumerous worlds that sparkled on his view, burst forth, in these expressions of amazement and delight, mingled with the deepest self-humiliation: “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers: the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of
man, that thou visitest him?" It is indeed well calculated to excite the most powerful emotions. As we roam through the wide expanse of creation, and on fancy's rapid wings, 1 Psalm, civ. 30. 2 Psalm, cxlv. 15, 16. 3 Psalı, vüï. 3, 4.
visit world after world, and systems of worlds are seen woven together, and all in harmonious motion, obeying the Creator's will, and think, as we are authorized, both from the word of the faithful God and the experience of our own souls—this lofty Being, whose glory fills immensity, dwells in the midst of us, has chosen Zion for his holy habitation, yea takes up his peculiar and special abode in our hearts, dwelling within us, walking with us, and filling us with life and joy. Oh, how are we lost in wonder and delight! As we sink into utter insignificance in our own estimation, we feel an holy impulse within, that lifts us up on high, and causes us to soar above the skies. How exquisitely blissful is it, to hear the voice of this mighty Maker of heaven and earth-of Him that thunders in the sky, and roars in the tempest, and spreads to the utmost verge of space-rebuking the elements, and marshalling His universe, in sweetest, sofest accents of love, as from the inmost and most retired recess of our spirits, accost and comfort us, "Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness," Oh, there is a communion thus had with Him that created the heavens and stretched them out," of which, the man, who views these things with merely a philosophic eye, can form no idea. The christian may “joy in the Holy Ghost” when he gambols o'er creation,
And when we look into the minuter wonders of organized bodies, and scan the delicate organs, and admirable texture of vegetable beings, or the almost miraculous functions of animal life, and survey the mechanism of our own bodies, how "fearfully and wonderfully” we are made; and the immortal energies of our minds how lofty are their aspirations? who is not ready to exclaim, 1 Isaiah, xli. 10
2 Isaiah, xlii. 5.
Helpless immortal insect infininite!
And in myself am lost! But every rising fear is hushed, and the heart is lulled to rest, as we reflect; all these are but exhibitions which the ever-living and operative Spirit makes of his wisdom, and power, and benevolence. If our minds are overwhelmed, and we feel lost, the heart rejoices to know, that we are lost in God. We can pity while we fully comprehend the feelings which led the more philosophic heathen to deify the heavens, and the earth, and regard all life, as the soul of the divinity, and bless and adore God, for that bright and steady light of his word, which guides us through all the mazes of nature directly to Himself. Every form of life does indeed introduce to us a present God. We trace the movements of that wonderous Being who in another than the poet's sense,
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
As the rapt seraph that adores and burns. But it is in a much sublimer and more delightful aspect the christian beholds Him, than that in which He is contemplated in the cold and heart-chilling philosophy which proclaims
All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body nature is, and God the soul. However we may admire the production, we are not satisfied unless we know something of its cause. It is but
1 Estne Dei sedes nisi terra et pontus, et aer
Et cælum, et virtus? Superos quid quærimus ultra?
Luc, Phar. I. 9 v. 578..