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Man’s Nature and Destiny

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    PNEUMA AS USED IN THE SCRIPTURES

    This word occurs in the New Testament 385 times; and besides being rendered “spirit” 288 times, is rendered “ghost” 92 times, “wind” once, and “life” once.MND 50.1

    We now have before us the use and definitions of the words from which “soul” and “spirit” are translated. From the facts presented, we learn that a large variety of meanings attaches to them; and that we are at liberty, wherever they occur, to give them that definition which the sense of the context requires. But when a certain meaning is attached to either of these words in one place, it is not saying that it has the same meaning in every other place.MND 50.2

    By a dishonorable perversion on this point, some have tried to hold up to ridicule the advocates of the view we here defend. Thus, when we read in Genesis 2:7, that Adam became a living soul, the sense demands, and the meaning of the word “soul” will warrant, that we then apply it to the whole person; Adam, as a complete being, was a living soul. But when we read in Genesis 35:18, “And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, for she died,” we give the word, according to another if its definitions, a more limited signification, and apply it, with Parkhurst, to the breath of life.MND 50.3

    But some have met us here in this manner: “Materialists tell us that ‘soul’ means the whole man; then let us see how it will read in Genesis 35:18: ‘And it came to pass, as the whole man was in departing; for she died.’ ” Or they will say, “Materialists tell us that ‘soul’ means the breath; then let us try it in Genesis 2:7 ‘And Adam became a living breath.’ “MND 51.1

    Such a course, while it is no credit to their mental acumen, is utterly disastrous to all their claims of candor and honesty in their treatment of this important subject. While we are not at liberty to go beyond the latitude of meaning which is attached to the words “soul” and “spirit,” we are at liberty to use whatever definition the circumstances of the case require, varying, of course, in different passages. But in the whole list of definitions, and in the entire use of the words, we find nothing answering to that immaterial, independent, immortal part, capable of a conscious, intelligent, active existence out of the body as well as in, of which the popular religious teachers of the day endeavor to make these words the vehicle.MND 51.2

    It will be noticed also that some of the definitions are determined by the theological views extant upon this subject; as, for instance, when psuche is defined to mean the immaterial soul,” and Matthew 10:28 is quoted to prove it. We shall find, when we come to an examination of that passage, that no such “immaterial” thing can be there referred to. But let it be marked that in all the definitions of the words “soul” and “spirit,” and in all the instances of their use in the Scriptures, they are never once described or referred to as existing or capable of existing without a body.MND 51.3

    And now we would commend to the attention of the reader another stupendous fact, the bearing of which he cannot fail to appreciate. We want to know if this soul, or spirit, is immortal. The Hebrew and Greek words from which they are translated, occur in the Bible, as we have seen, seventeen hundred times. Surely, once at least in that long list we shall be told that the soul is immortal, if this is its high prerogative. Seventeen hundred times we inquire if the soul is once said to be immortal, or the spirit deathless. And the invariable and overwhelming response we meet is, Not once! Nowhere, though used so many hundred times, is the soul said to be undying in its nature, or the spirit deathless. Strange and unaccountable fact, if immortality is an inseparable attribute of the soul and spirit!MND 52.1

    An attempt is sometimes made to parry the force of this fact by saying that the immortality of the soul, like that of God, is taken for granted. We reply, The immortality of God is not taken for granted. Although this might be taken for granted if anything could be so taken, yet it is directly asserted that God is immortal. Let now the advocates of the soul’s natural immortality produce one text where it is said to have immortality, as God is said to have it (1 Timothy 6:16), or where it is said to be immortal, as God is said to be (1 Timothy 1:17), and the question is settled. But this cannot be done; and the ignoble shift of the taken-for-granted argument falls dead to the floor.MND 52.2

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