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Here and Hereafter

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    2 The Creation of Man

    THE most direct way to learn what man’s nature is, would seem to be to study the story of his creation, if such a record can be found, and search for the substances and elements that were made use of in his formation. Happily such a record has been furnished, and it rests on higher authority than the deductions of human reason or the speculations of men. Here we fall back upon the testimony of the Bible, and take its language in its most obvious and literal sense. If any think that it comports better with the dignity and glory of an omnipotent Creator to suppose that he limited his creative energy to the production of an infinitesimal amount of protoplasm somewhere, and left that to evolve itself through countless ages, into all conceivable organisms, developing at last, through mollusks, vertebrates, mammals, and monkeys, to man, they are at liberty, of course, to enjoy that opinion; but the reader will allow us to prefer the record in Genesis, and here to put that forth in evidence, as a more satisfactory account of the origin and nature of the human family. That record gives, in a few plain straightforward declarations, the account of man’s creation, as follows: “And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7.HHMLD 17.1

    This record accounts for every feature and faculty possessed by man, and all the mental and vital phenomena, manifested through him. God had fashioned this beautiful world glowing with life and beauty; but yet there was no one to exercise dominion over it, no one to till the soil, and cause all its multiple forms of life to praise and glorify the Creator. To provide for this lack, God took a portion of the dust of the earth, wrought in into the form of a man, and by a process of organization, of which we can form no conception, made it flesh. All the organs of the body were there, fashioned for their different uses. They were all ready for action, but there was no life. Then God breathed into the man’s nostrils the breath of life, with its vitalizing, life-giving power, and man became a living soul. This body, before inert and helpless, became a living, moving power. The heart began to beat, and the life current flowed through all its channels; the lungs began their work, and the process of breathing appeared; the nerves assumed their office, and the man began to feel; the muscles were quickened, and he began to move; the brain acted, and he began to think and manifest that intelligence by which he could understand the instructions of his Maker, and exercise his will to do his bidding. Thus treated “man became a living soul.”HHMLD 17.2

    The record states all that was done in reference to man, and all that was imparted to him, to make him the being that he was. And was not this sufficient? O, no! exclaims the theologian; this was not enough; this was all material; but there must have been a soul, some immaterial and immortal part, given him, to make possible the manifestation of the phenomena of mind; for “matter cannot think.” But who knows all these additional particulars? Remember, we are here going by the record. We are supposed to know nothing beyond what the record states. Man, as a “living soul,” was of course capable of exercising every faculty of body and mind common to the human family. But by the process here described, — the formation of the body, and the setting it in motion by the breath of life, — man became just this “living soul.” Now what right has any one to take this word “soul,” and give it a new meaning to be the vehicle of a new idea, and thrust it in here to change the whole scope and tenor of the record? This word “soul” is the very word theologians use to signify this immaterial and immortal part, which they so ardently wish to show was here interjected into Adam’s organism; but whatever this word expresses, that the record says the man, by the breathing into the nostrils of the breath of life, had “become.” He “became a living soul.”HHMLD 18.1

    But it is insisted that, as man could then think, there must have been something superadded to his nature; for matter, it is assumed with all assurance, cannot think; only spirit, it is repeated, is capable of such a process as that. It might be a sufficient reply to such a claim, to simply call attention to the fact that in this declaration, people are setting up assumptions in a field of which they know nothing. It would perhaps be unbecoming to make such a charge, did not the very ones to whom reference is made, openly confess it. What is matter? and what is spirit? Those who presume the heaviest on the contrast between matter and spirit, acknowledge that they “do not understand the nature of either the one or the other.” Thus an authority, high in the religious world, says:—HHMLD 19.1

    “If it is asked what is meant by matter, or what matter is, we must confess that we know not what constitutes its essence. In this, respect its autology is beyond our reach; and the only advance we find it possible to make, is to point out some of the properties of matter, as discerned by our senses, and to exhibit some of the laws by which it is governed.” 1D. W. Clark, D. D. Bishop M. E. Church, “Man All Immortal,” p. 21.HHMLD 19.2

    That renowned philosopher, John Locke, says:—HHMLD 20.1

    “We have the idea of matter and thinking, but possibly shall never be able to know whether any mere material being thinks or not; it being impossible for us, by the contemplation of our own ideas, without revelation, to discover whether Omnipotence has not given to some systems of matter, fitly disposed, a power to perceive and think, or else joined and affixed to matter so disposed, a thinking, immaterial substance; it being, in respect of our notions, not much more remote from our comprehension to conceive that God can, if he pleases, superadd to matter a faculty of thinking, than that he should superadd to it another substance with a faculty of thinking, since we know not wherein thinking consists, nor to what sort of substance the Almighty has been pleased to give that power which cannot be in any created being but merely by the good pleasure of the Creator. For I see no contradiction in it, that the first eternal, thinking Being should, if he pleased, give to certain systems of created, senseless matter, put together as he thinks fit, some degrees of sense, perception, and thought.” 1Essay, Book iv, chap. 8HHMLD 20.2

    Mr. Clark, quoted before, makes a like confession concerning spirit:—HHMLD 20.3

    “We confess that we know not in what the essence of soul, or spirits consists. We readily acknowledge our ignorance of the essence, the subject-being, of matter. We make the same confession — and under the same limitations — concerning the soul.” 2“Man All Immortal,” p. 29HHMLD 20.4

    But notwithstanding such acknowledgments as these, we find Mr. Clark arguing as follows, in reference to mind and matter:—HHMLD 20.5

    “We are accustomed to say the eye sees, the ear hears, the finger feels, and so forth; but such language is used only in accommodation to our ignorance, or from the force of habit. It is incorrect. The eye itself no more sees than the telescope which we hold before it to assist our vision; the ear hears not any more than the trumpet of tin which the deaf man directs toward the speaker to convey the sound of his voice; and so with regard to all the organs of sense. They are but instruments which become the media of intelligence to the absolute mind, and it uses them whenever it is inclined or obliged to do so.”HHMLD 20.6

    Again Mr. Clark speaks further as follows:—HHMLD 21.1

    “The opinion that even organic matter could by any possibility be made to exhibit such power, cannot be received without the most clear and indubitable evidence. What is there to be found in the composition of the brain or nervous system, or in their organization, that would lead us to look for the development of thought, feeling, or conscience in them? The brain has been analyzed, and more than eight tenths of its substance has been found to be water. Indeed, this, mixed up with a little albumen, a still less quantity of fat, osmazone, phosphorus, acids, salts, and sulphur, constitutes its material elements. In all cases water largely predominates. Take even the pineal gland — that interior and mysterious organ of the brain, supposed by Descartes, and by many philosophers after him, to be the peculiar seat of the soul — even this has been analyzed. Its principal elements are found to be phosphate of lime together with a smaller proportion of carbonate of lime and phosphates of ammonia and magnesia. If the brain at large constitutes the soul, then the soul is only a peculiar combination of oxygen and hydrogen, with albumen, acids, salts, sulphur, etc. Or, if the pineal gland constitutes the soul, then the principal element of the soul is phosphate of lime.” 1“Man All Immortal.” pp. 57, 58, 75.HHMLD 21.2

    A soul, such as has been invented by modern theology, or rather by ancient mythology, or rather by the great ophidian philosopher in Eden, it is no wonder it is found impossible to discover. But it seems a most useless procedure to look for it through the analysis of dead matter. Men assume that certain things of most common occurrence cannot be done except by such a “soul,” and thus take upon themselves the unnecessary and embarrassing problem of trying to account for its origin and union with man. The simple concession that matter can be so organized and vitalized as to exhibit all these phenomena, at once simplifies the matter, and relieves it of all difficulty. And in the arguments of these gentlemen, where is God? Where is Omnipotence? They confess that they do not know what matter is. Are they sure that they know all the kinds of matter which God has at his command?HHMLD 21.3

    Are they aware of all the combinations of matter which God is able to make, and are they able to tell the results of all these? Is matter the vile and contemptible substance which their words would indicate? God has certainly seen fit to make use of it in all the worlds which he has created; and at the birth of our own world, “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” And the glorious terminus of the Christian pathway is set before us in terms that suggest materiality — it is a city which has foundations who builder and maker is God; a city which has streets of gold and gates of pearl.HHMLD 22.1

    Matters takes on new properties by new combinations and new arrangements. A sufficient illustration is found in the household article, water, so necessary, in one condition, to all life and vegetation. In one state it is ice, hard and cold; in another, a liquid, useful for innumerable purposes,; if raised to steam, it becomes an invisible giant, able to rend the strongest bars of steel, and compete with the lightning in destructive power. Yet it is all the time the same matter, only under different forms and combinations. In one form matter is sweet; in another, sour, in one, white like snow; in another, black like coal; in one, strong;in another, weak; in one, soft, in another, solid; in one, precious and beautiful; in another, of little worth; for the glittering diamond, held to be of almost priceless value, and the charcoal, unsightly to the eye and touch, are identically the same substance — pure carbon — only with its particles differently arranged. The difference between body and the so-called “spirit,” between senseless matter and thinking matter, could scarcely be greater.HHMLD 22.2

    Matter can be endowed with life. Here are two seeds left upon the shelf they would continue unchanged for an indefinite length of time. Now take these seed and put them under different conditions: crush one to powder, and plant it; will it grow? — No; its life has been destroyed. Plant the other; the moisture and warmth of a congenial soil quicken into action the germ of life, and the seed swells, sends forth a sprout, strikes down into the earth its roots, and becomes a towering plant which flowers and fruits to delight the eye, or furnish sustenance to the bodies of men. What produced this marvelous result? Was there an immaterial spirit or intelligence enshrined within to bring it all about? — No; it was a power inherent in the matter itself. This is vegetable life, and the world is full of it — indeed, would be a waste, barren desert without it.HHMLD 22.3

    Ascending a step we have something more wonderful still in animal life. The egg is simply a quantity of matter; but subject it to suitable conditions, and in due time a chicken comes forth full of life and activity. Is there an immaterial being in the chicken that makes it see and act, seek food and fly from danger? — No; it is simply matter organized to act in these strange and self-determining ways. Every animal below man is considered to be only matter. It will not be admitted that such animals are endowed with immortal souls and never-dying spirits; yet what powers do they manifest! They see, hear, feel, taste, and smell; they exhibit fear, love, anger, hatred, and revenge; they give every evidence of memory, will, reflection, and reason. But all this is matter; and yet we are told that matter cannot “think.” Can matter see? can it hear, feel, taste, and smell? In its primary state of course it cannot; but it can be organized so that it is able to do all these things. No illustration nor enlargement is needed here; for it cannot be denied. Now is there anything unreasonable in the thought that God should put the finishing touch of a higher degree of organization upon man, so that through the power of a more highly developed brain, he should become the intelligent, morally responsible being that he is?HHMLD 23.1

    Those who deny that matter can be so organized as to think, are guilty of a strange inconsistency in their logic. The characteristics of matter are form, size, weight, location, etc. But as these are not attributable to love, hope, fear, and like emotions, they claim that these cannot be matter, but must be the production of a separate intelligent entity. They seem to forget that the attributes or results of the organization of matter cannot be contrasted with matter itself. The questions they ask concerning love, fear, hate, etc., whether they are round, square, or flat, we might well supplement with the same questions concerning light, heat, or cold. If any doubt that some eminent philosophers do reason thus, let them read the following from Joseph Cook:—HHMLD 24.1

    “When Caesar saw Brutus stab, and muffled up his face at the foot of Pompey’s statue, was his grief round, square, or triangular? [Laughter.] When Lincoln, by a stroke of the pen, manumitted four million slaves, was his choice hexagonal, or octagonal? ... These questions show that the terms which we apply to matter are totally inapplicable when applied to mind.” 1Lecture on Biology, p. 234.HHMLD 24.2

    This can easily be paralleled by questions referring to matter alone. In sight of the writer, as these lines are being penned, a dog is attempting to drive a hog from a neighboring field. The hog shows fight. With bristles erect, and glaring eyes, he makes a dash at the dog. With growl and bark the dog evades the onslaught, and keeps up his part of the contest by a charge from another quarter. Was the hog’s anger round, square, hexagonal, or octagonal? Were that dog’s plans to foil his antagonist, rectangular or three-cornered, one thickness or three-ply? Here was matter, but how broad and thick were the specimens of fury exhibited, and how much did they weigh? — “[Uproarious laughter. Great applause.]”HHMLD 24.3

    There are operations of matter as inexplicable as matter itself. Light, heat, cold, and even that subtle essence, electricity, which electricians describe as “an unknown force, acting in an unknown way,” are conceded to be a form of matter, or at least, incapable of manifestation without matter. So of mind, it cannot exist independent of matter. Brain material is necessary to its existence. Who can conceive of thought existing apart by itself? What would it be like, and how would it act? It is claimed that this inward man, this spirit being, which feels, sees, hears, etc., is of the same shape and size as the natural body, and is indivisible, so that if a man loses his natural leg or arm, the spirit leg or arm remains in its place just the same. If this is not so, and the spirit body is divisible, then one might lose his spirit head, — and what would his condition then be? But to show that there is no such spirit body which does the feeling, seeing, etc., just try to strike, pinch, or pierce the spirit leg or arm after these corporeal members are removed, and what is the result? — Nothing; and this reveals the exact constitution of this supposed spirit body — nothing.HHMLD 25.1

    Another question: In what condition is this spirit body when it is put into man? What is its status? Has it full power, or is it limited in its capabilites? If it has all its powers in the beginning, why does not the infant exhibit all the mental power and intelligence of a full-grown man? If it is not endowed with all its powers in the beginning, why not? As a separate creation, could not God make it so? Then why clog and cumber it with a body at all? But if it has at first simply the size and power of the infant, and can only expand and mature with the body, then it is dependent on the body, and subject to all its conditions. And that such is the case with respect to the powers of the mind, Paul expressly affirms. He says: “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” 1 Corinthians 13:11. Here is a plain statement that the understanding and thinking power is circumscribed by the limitations of the body. Then if it expands or shrinks with the body, is strong or imbecile, childish or mature, just according as the body is in these conditions, when the body perishes, does it not perish with it? We speak of “it” to accommodate the discussion to the claims of popular theology. But with this idea we find the argument hopelessly entangled in absurdities at every step. But with the view that these marvelous powers are simply the result of man’s superior organization, all becomes simple and plain, and easy of comprehension. In another chapter devoted to the question of the origin of the spirit, more will be said on some of the points here alluded to.HHMLD 25.2

    Thus the record of Adam’s creation is amply sufficient to account for all the physical and mental phenomena exhibited by living men. The body was framed of the dust of the ground; the organs were all formed complete and adapted to their various uses; the organization was of the most superior kind; the machine was perfect in all its parts; the breath of life was breathed into it, carrying with it the vital principle, the life-giving power which God had placed therein. Then man sprang into life; he stood erect, a “living soul,” intelligent through the action of the brain, and able to carry out the purposes of life by the action of the body; capable to thinking, reasoning, and exercising his will to do the bidding of his Maker, through the moral qualities of the nature thus imparted to him. The same principle of life was imparted through the breath of life to all other breathing creatures; but having an inferior organization, they do not stand on the same plane of being as man, nor possess his nature.HHMLD 26.1

    But the Bible not only describes the creation of man, it also describes his dissolution; and this process we find to be just the reverse, the complete counterpart, of the other. It required, as we have seen, but few words to describe the creation of man, the putting together and setting in motion of this wonderful machine; so it requires but few words to describe the stopping of the machine, the taking of it apart and laying it in the tomb; the one record begins where the other ends, and goes right back through the reverse process. Thus David says: “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” Psalm 146:3, 4. In the creation of man, the body was first brought forth out of the earth; then the breath of life was put into it. Here this breath goes out of it, and then the body goes back to its earth. Solomon describes the same thing in little different language. He says: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7. What God gave to man, as the record in Genesis states, was the “breath of life,” containing the life principle. This made man alive. This God withdraws, takes back to himself, and as a consequence the body, the dust, goes back to the earth as it was. Job also states the same thing in language calculated to throw still greater light upon the subject. These are his words: “If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.” Job 34:14, 15. That is, if God should form this purpose concerning man, to take away his life, all he would need to do would be to take back — gather unto himself what he gave to man, — “his spirit and his breath;” and then the body of every man would turn again to dust. That Moses by the words “breath of life,” means the same as Solomon, by the word “spirit,” Job proves by using them both together on the same subject. None can fail to see the correspondence between the Bible records of man’s creation and his death; and in neither of them do we find any mention of any separate and independent, immaterial and immortal, entity, worked into his composition, to make him the dual being which popular theology claims that his is.HHMLD 27.1

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