An Examination of the Scripture Testimony

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An Examination of the Scripture Testimony

By
J. N. Loughborough

It cannot be made to appear a matter of consistency, that man should not understand the end for which he is placed in this world. In other words man should know what he is to do if he would do right, what is to be the benefit if he does do right, and what the great loss if does not do right. An examination of man’s true condition, and a presentation of the Scripture testimony on the point, we conclude will be a matter of interest to the candid and inquiring. We are aware, however, in approaching this subject, that we are in a field of investigation where a multitude of opinions exist among those who have attempted to give us their views. The cause for this differences is obvious, and we trust will be made manifest in the following pages. MPC 3.1

Many have derived their present views from early teaching, and have drawn their conclusions in accordance with that of their predecessors, supposing the sentiments advanced by them must be right, and would stand. MPC 3.2

In pursuing this subject our inquiry should not be. “What have others believed in regard to this point,” but the solemn inquiry should be before us continually, “What is truth?” In the midst of conflicting views we must take the Bible alone as a sure detector, as that which will discover unto us the truth. MPC 3.3

Suppose a candid inquirer, desirous of knowing the way of righteousness and truth, goes forth to find the way, not understanding, perhaps, the true source from which it is to be derived. On meeting his neighbor A., he says: I have been dwelling on the structure and organization of the human body, (truly man is a wonder) and as I have looked at the wonderful inventions which the mind of man has produced, I see he aspires to raise himself above his present position; can you tell me what his final destiny is to be? MPC 4.1

A. Well, I have made up my mind that there is nothing beyond this life, and that the way is to make the best of this life, and enjoy the good things of the world, for death is an eternal sleep. This is a chilling reply, and our inquiring friend meditates upon all the miseries and disappointments attendant to a life in this world, and then replies in his own mind, “This cannot be,” but still the truth alone he wishes to know. While the inquirer stands meditating upon these matters, B. joins the company, and warns him of the danger of leaving the Divine record, and declares to him, with positiveness, that what has been filling his ears is not the truth, for, says he, man is possessed of a principle called soul, or spirit, which is immortal, and must live after the body is dead; and so far is death from being an eternal sleep that it is the. “gate to endless joys.” Death is that which is finally to unhouse this spirit, that it may fly away to its own native realm, where it may enjoy the society of angels and kindred spirits. We drag out a miserable existence here, but death liberates us from all these toils, and introduces all men to a state of perfect bliss. God is a being of love and mercy, and in order fully to manifest those attributes, he will ultimately save all his creatures. While the idea is ringing in the mind of our inquiring friend, of the great mercy and love that would be manifest in the salvation of all men, C. joins the company, and says: Your meditation on a life of unrestrained pleasure and gratification, with the comforts of earth, and finally, when you are fit for its joys no more, a deliverance from all its cares and toils into the eternal felicity of heaven, is groundless. I wish you to remember that God has other attributes besides love; he is a God of justice, and cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. God has a law, and sin is the transgression of that law, and in executing judgment, justice will be the attribute made manifest. If we wish to obtain eternal felicity we must confess our transgressions of that law to Jesus, who has died that he might be a propitiation for our sins; he was raised again from the dead for our justification, and is at the right hand of God, there offering his blood as a satisfaction of the claims of the law on all those who confess and forsake their sins. MPC 4.2

The matter appears to our friend more consistent than the position of the first and second. But he inquires, “What will be our position, should we neglect to comply with the requirements laid down, and finally be found transgressors of the law of God?” MPC 5.1

C. You were told the truth by B. on one point: namely, that man is possessed of a principle which must live eternally. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death,” which means they will eternally suffer pain in a lake of fire and brimstone. There they will writhe in torment, and fill the air with their blasphemy and wailing. MPC 6.1

B. replies. Does not John say, [Revelation 5:13.] at a certain point of time in his vision. “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying: Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.” Here it seems all created intelligences are praising God. Must it not be, when that point of time comes, that all men are happy, and that by some means those immortal spirits you spoke of have then escaped hell? Does not the position you have presented represent God as an unjust being, to torment his creatures eternally for a finite act? MPC 6.2

At this point a fourth wishes them to take heed to his advice, and search well the Sacred Book, which will give us man’s true condition, and at once harmonize the contradictions of A., and discover the untruthfulness of the sensual position of B., and show that God is not an unjust being, as represented by the position of C. MPC 6.3

Dear reader, the position of these first three are before the minds of the people, and in accordance with them the great mass are drawing their conclusions in regard to religion. Satan, through his agents, (Thomas Paine and others) has attempted to destroy the Bible, but still it stands firm. The great lines of prophecy there laid down, which have been, and are receiving their literal accomplishment, inspire faith in the minds of those who desire to believe. A host of spirits, professing to come from heaven, flock around us, which testify that the position of the second, above named, is truth; for they tell us that man in the future state progresses until he arrives to the highest state of happiness, and that finally all will be perfectly happy. A proud and popular Church, with their learned ministry, assert with all graveness that sinners must live in eternal conscious misery, and thus strive to carry out the position of C. The only reason assigned is, the soul is immortal. MPC 6.4

With those who claim this position our dispute shall not be that their arguments are not logical, but that the basis from which their arguments are derived is a false one. If we stood with them, firm on their premises, we could not perhaps doubt their conclusions. If man had an immortal soul it would be perfectly natural to suppose that soul would live after the body was dead, and if it lived after the body was dead, that it was either in happiness or misery. MPC 7.1

And in attempting to harmonize this position with scripture, we most certainly should arrive at the conclusion of the Universalist, reasoning as follows: If the soul, or man proper, be spiritual, and of a nature contrary to matter, it cannot be gratified or rewarded with matter, but must be rewarded in a spiritual state with spiritual things. Therefore the testimony, [Proverbs 11:31.] “The righteous shall be recompensed in the earth, must more the wicked and sinner,” cannot refer to the final reward of the soul, but must be in reference to this life. And furthermore, theology at the present time informs us that man is not to exit here, after this life. Then, if men are recompensed in this life, it must be for the righteous or unrighteous acts performed here. And, as a consistent individual, we should admit that after this life they would stand on an equal footing. And as John saw every creature in the universe praising God, we should conclude that at that point of time all were happy. But if the basis of this argument is false, of course our reasoning, being never so just, must lead to a false conclusion. MPC 7.2

If in solving a problem in multiplication I state that twice 2 are 8, it is untrue and although there may be no defect in the multiplications afterwards made, the result of my work will be false. So, if it is not true that man has an immortal soul, man cannot have eternal misery, neither can all be enjoy eternal bliss, unless God is pleased to give them immortality. MPC 8.1

The Bible does not once testify that the soul is immortal, neither does it speak of immortal spirits. The word immortal is found in the Bible only once, and is then applied to God. [1 Timothy 1:17.] “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God.” By the frequency with which we hear the expression used in prayers, hymns and exhortations, we might suppose the Bible was filled with it. MPC 8.2

The position that man has an immortal soul, has been urged in times past, ministers hardly thinking that it needed proof, as Bishop Tillotson, in his sermon, printed in 1774, admits, “The immortality of the soul is rather supposed, or taken for granted, than expressly revealed in the Bible. MPC 9.1

Holmes, a Methodist writer, in a work called Pure Gold, page 68, speaking of the immortality of the soul, says, “For what we know of this important truth, we are not so exclusively indebted to a written revelation, as for our information on some other vital elements of religious faith.” MPC 9.2

And when arguments have been presented in favor of the immortality of the soul, they are mostly those that arise from a wrong principle of interpretation. If words in the Bible are allowed to mean the same as when used in any other book, the doctrine of the immortality of the soul cannot be harmonized with the Bible. When the Bible states, “The wages of sin is death,” the immortal soul theory says, No, it is eternal life; that is, eternal conscious misery. If immortal in the Bible be allowed the meaning given it by Webster, (“Exempt from death; having life or being that shall never end,”) then it cannot be applied to the soul; for, “The soul that sinneth it shall die;” Ezekiel 18:4. Either the soul is not immortal or death does not mean here as defined by Webster: Die-“To cease to live: to expire; to decease; to perish.” Death in this text is made to mean eternal torments. MPC 9.3

The beauty of Divine Revelation has been shut away from the minds of the common people, by their being taught, and supposing that the Bible does not mean what it says, or that the sense of the scripture writers is not contained in the scriptures themselves, but that they are mystical and have a hidden meaning. If this be a fact, we inquire, How shall we arrive at just conceptions of that word and its true interpretation? Oh, says one of the proud professors of our day, you go to Rev. Mr. A., Doctor of Divinity, he will enlighten your mind in regard to the matter. The second says, A. will not inform you aright; you must go to one of our Divines, and so all direct our attention to a different direction for an understanding of the word. They disagree among themselves, and thus are produced upward of 600 different sentiments of the present time. This grows out of the principle that the Bible does not mean what it says, but means something which is not conveyed to our minds by the literal reading of the text. If the position be true that the student of the Bible must first have a thorough knowledge of the popular theology of the age, before he can understand that book, then it would seem to the inquiring mind that the Bible, after all, was not the revelation of God’s will, as it does not convey the idea of the author, but his meaning is to be found by the learning of the schools. If the Bible is the revelation of God’s will to man, then his will is found in the book, and the book means what it says. We admit that figures are there used, and explained, but claim that a plain statement should be understood the same as when made in any other book. We can form no just conceptions of God’s character as revealed in the word, if this be not the truth of the matter. If God had revealed his will in such a manner that man cannot understand it, and then pronounced in that word condemnation and death to those who did not obey his will, we should at once conclude that he manifested none of the character the word represents him as possessing. MPC 10.1

If the Bible is not a literal book, then we need another book, proceeding from the author of the Bible, explaining the revelation we now have, that we may have the will of God. If the Bible is the revealed will of God, there are no nonessentials in it, but it is profitable, and is written for our learning. Says the prophet, “Things which are revealed belong unto us and our children forever.” MPC 11.1

The injunction of our Saviour is, “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” John 5:39-40. What necessity of their coming to him, that they might have life, if they were already possessed of an immortal soul, and thus could not avoid living eternally? If they would come to him they might have life; the inference is, if they did not come they would not have life. “In them ye think ye have eternal life. Their idea might be, perhaps, that as they were natural descendants of Abraham, they should be partakers of all the benefits of the saints of God, and the blessings of his everlasting kingdom. And Christ, as recorded in other places, plainly rebuked them for holding such a sentiment, and tells them, greatly to their disquietude, “Ye are of your father, the Devil.” He gives them to understand that their thoughts are wrong; that life is vested in him, and if they would obtain life they must come to him. MPC 11.2

In Matthew 19 we have an account of one who became interested in the great subject of eternal life, and came running to Jesus and said, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? “If thou wilt enter into life keep the commandments.” This person seemed to feel the want of something which he did not possess: eternal life; and to obtain it something must be done. He must keep the law of the Lord, the commandments; for sin was the transgression of the law, and the wages of sin is death, the opposite of eternal life, and to obtain life he must come to Christ, for the pardon of his sins, and keep the commandments. But the advocates of the immortal soul theory are under the necessity of calling life in this text happiness. To suit them it would read, “If thou would enter happiness keep the commandments. Happiness, it is true, will be enjoyed by them, but their reward is life.” Thus, we perceive, their sentiments are not only not stated in the Bible, but they will not harmonize with the Bible. How often we hear professing Christians, in their prayers, asking God to “save deathless spirits from death,” and then, fearing it would not be strong enough, they have it, “the death that never dies.” How different their exhortations from that of Paul. [Romans 2:7.] to seek, by patient continuance in well-doing, for glory, honor, immortality. If we already possessed an immortal soul, it would seem inconsistent to exhort us to seek for immortality. 1 Timothy 6:12. “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” Verse 14. “Keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in his time he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto.” If God only hath immortality, what folly to talk about immortal souls, and all men having immortality. MPC 12.1

Says the objector, “You believe the angels in Heaven are immortal don’t you, and that the Bible represents them as undying? Yes. How then can it be that God only hath immortality, if angels are in possession of it? We answer, If you claim that angels sprung into existence in possession of this attribute, and that they have not received it from God, than you have a difficulty of your own making to harmonize; that is, how can it be that God only hath immortality if angels have it too. We wish to abide by the testimony of the word, “who only hath immortality.” God is the great source of life and immortality. If any being ever has received or shall receive immortality, they must receive it from Him; and it is in His power to give or withhold it. Well, say you, He created angels immortal. That assertion, though often made, lacks proof. We understand that they were not created immortal, but incorrupt; they might in that state attain to immortality by obedience, without corruption, or by disobeying become subject to corruption. Well, say you, prove that. 2 Peter 2:4. “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.” MPC 13.1

Angels have sinned. What is to be done? They will be punished. How? “The wages of sin is death. But, say you, they can’t die, because they are immortal. That is reasoning too much in a circle. We claim, then, that the angels above referred to, at least, can die, and therefore they are not immortal. But, say you, some are immortal now? Yes. How is that? Jude, verse 6, will explain, “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” From this we may learn who are to die: those who kept not their first estate. Was there a second estate for angels, the reception of which depended on keeping the first? yes, and some must have proved faithful, and received it, or the text would not specify so definitely those “who kept not their first estate.” Those who kept their first estate are, without doubt, now immortal, while those who sinned are subject to the vengeance of God, and must receive the wages of their sin, death. MPC 14.1

But, say you, Christ is immortal. “He ever liveth to make intercession for us.” If you claim that he was immortal prior to his mission on earth, he must have received that immortality from the Father, for he proceeded from the Father. “These things, saith the Amen. ‘The faithful and true Witness,’ the beginning of the Creation of God.” Revelation 3:14. But had he been immortal when created, how could he have died? We do not wish to be understood that he was mortal, but that like angels, (only he stood in a higher sphere) he was incorrupt, and had it not been the plan of God that he should suffer “the just for the unjust,” doubtless his existence in glory would have been eternal. He is now immortal, “a quickening, life giving spirit.” But he became such by a resurrection from the dead. MPC 14.2

Paul, in 2 Timothy 1:10, testifies concerning Christ, “who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light, through the Gospel.” How can it be said that life and immortality are bought to light through the gospel, if Adam and all his posterity have immortal souls. Why, says the objector, the gospel brought to light the fact that we have immortal souls. Prior to Christ’s advent, death was looked upon as a state of darkness, and many of the writers of the Old Testament scriptures speak in a dark manner about the state of the dead; but Christ, through the gospel, has made it clear and plain that we have immortal souls. Is this your idea of the text? Why claim that Christ brought the doctrine of the immortality of the soul to light? It existed long before his first advent, but not with Scripture writers. But to understand how life and immortality are brought to light through the gospel, we will look at a gospel sermon on the subject. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, If ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain; for I delivered unto you first of all, that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again he third day, according to the scriptures.” MPC 15.1

Here Paul has stated the great facts of the gospel, which had then been fulfilled. This is the foundation work, from which certain benefits are to be derived by the obedient. He proceeds, verse 12. “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how, say some among you, that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen.” The first benefit he speaks of is the resurrection, and Christ’s resurrection is claimed as a pledge of the resurrection of the saints. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept.” The first fruit is always a sample of the harvest, and like the harvest; so if you get a description of either you may know the nature of the other. The condition of those in the harvest is described, “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. Vs 52. “For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” MPC 16.1

Here we learn that the harvest (resurrection) is the time when the saints receive immortality. Now, as we have these facts before us, we inquire, what about immortality is brought to light through the gospel sermon above alluded to? Every candid individual most certainly would answer that it is a boon to be received at the resurrection. MPC 17.1

1 Timothy 6:19. “Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” Then eternal life is to be laid hold of “in the time to come.” According to Paul’s testimony to his Corinthian brethren, the resurrection is the time when “this mortal must put on immortality.” This is the time when “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Then those who have laid up a good foundation (kept the commandments) will lay hold on eternal life. MPC 17.2

The theories of the present time teach us that at death the souls of all men go immediately to heaven, and are judged; those found worthy of heaven are permitted to remain, while the souls of the wicked are thrust down to hell, there to be tormented with fire and brimstone, and receive their punishment. At the time of Christ’s second advent, the souls of the righteous, which have been happy in heaven, receiving their reward perhaps hundreds of years, are called together; then the souls of the wicked, which have been wailing in torment perhaps the same length of time, are summoned to appear before God. The several bodies which were tenanted by these souls while living here, are then raised from the dead, the souls are united with them, and again they stand before God. For what? We are informed the day has come that God appointed in which to judge the world, and these souls must there stand and receive their awful doom, or the welcome which will be given them to enter into the joy of their Lord. MPC 17.3

What necessity is there of judging these persons at the resurrection, if judgment was passed upon them at death, and they have been receiving their reward or punishment for thousands of years? Can it be that an all-wise being has made an oversight, and that they are judged again to detect errors that may have been made in the first sentence? Who would dare claim such a position? MPC 18.1

But, we inquire, do the Scriptures state that men are judged at death? Paul testifies, [Acts 17:31.] “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” Do not the Scriptures state, says one, that “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment?” Would not this show that men were judged at death? If we were positive that this text applied to the first death, or the death men die in Adam, it would fail to prove that the men were judged while they were dead. It does not say they are judged as soon as they die, but after that point; how long after it does not state. We shall claim it is at the period of the resurrection; for there is where the Bible locates it. If the position were true that the wicked are judged at death, how can it be said. “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished? If they were judged at death, then we have been in the judgment since the first man died, and there would be no propriety in the Apostle’s pointing to a judgment day in the future; for men are being judged all the time. Paul “reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come.” MPC 18.2

If the day of death is the day of judgment, then the Lord preserves the lives of the wicked, for they are reserved (kept in store-Webster,) to the day of judgment. If the Bible taught that men were judged at death, then we should be compelled to admit that they went immediately to their reward or punishment; for the time of judgment is the time the saints are rewarded. See Revelation 11:15. “The seventh angel sounded;” voices were heard declaring, among other things, the testimony of verse 18: “And thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldst give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great.” According to Luke 14:13-14, they are not rewarded until the resurrection. “But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” And, as we have already quoted, the wicked are reserved to the day of judgment to be punished. Job says, [Chap 21:29, 30.] “The wicked are reserved to the day of destruction, they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath.” They are brought forth from their graves. MPC 19.1

But, says one, these texts you have been quoting all apply to the body; you do not believe the soul is without reward from death to the resurrection, do you? Most certainly: you would not admit that any part of the body was conscious, but claim that it is the immortal soul. We do not find the testimony that man is possessed of any such principle that can exist separate from the body, and that is not dependent on a connection with the body for its existence. MPC 20.1

Says the objector, I think the strong desire we have in us for life, and which leads us to manifest so much care in preserving our lives, proves the soul to be immortal. No desire springs up in the heart of man but what can be gratified with that which it reaches out for; in other words, no desire would be placed there that could not be gratified. It would represent the author of our existence as imperfect if this were not the case. MPC 20.2

In reply, we admit it to be a fact, that there is implanted in man a strong desire for life; but we do not suppose this to be evidence that we already have immortality stamped upon us, but it would rather seem to show to our mind that we have not obtained it as yet. The objector states that there is no desire implanted in man but what can be satisfied by something in nature. Why not state, that cannot be satisfied by what he already possesses? A person is not apt to manifest a very strong desire for what he already possess. All men desire happiness, but does this prove that all men are perfectly happy? Not at all, but rather that they are not happy. But can all men be happy? If they will take heed to the means God has appointed to secure happiness. Merely the desire will not secure to them happiness, but they must put forth an effort, and use the means in their power to ameliorate their condition. Many desire riches, but it does not necessarily follow that all are rich, or that all will be rich; yet riches are in the world, and can be obtained by them if they rightly lay themselves out for the work. So with the desire men have for life, and the great care they manifest to shun danger; instead of proving that they are immortal, it proves that they are mortal and exposed to danger; one object of this desire being implanted in them is that they may be cautious and protect their own life, which “is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14. Men desire to live eternally, and they can if they put forth an effort and employ the means God has appointed to secure eternal life. “If thou wilt enter life keep the commandments.” We conclude this strong desire for life is implanted in us to encourage us to move out and improve the means set before us to secure eternal life. In this drowsy world of temptation, God had not only held out before us the promises of the glories of that blessed state of those who will have life eternal, (they will see no sorrow, pain, sickness, or death,) but within us he has placed that strong desire for life, which should cause us to flee the corruptions which are in the world, and cleave close to him and his word, that we may secure life. MPC 20.3

The Apostle represents the Christian as living “in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” Titus 1:2. Hope—“A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable.”—Webster. While eternal life remains a matter of promise, we do not possess it, and when we come in possession of it we need no longer hope for it. “What a man seeth, why doeth ye yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Romans 8:24, 25. How long shall we wait for it? We conclude, till the judgment and the resurrection, the time of which God hath appointed. And Job says, “All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.” This change is from mortal to immortality at the resurrection. No, says one, this is his dissolution he refers to, when he should change this mortal state for a higher state, and his spirit free should fly away and dwell with angels. If this be the case, then the day of man’s death is appointed, but the scriptures reveal no such idea. We will let Job’s testimony answer the case as to what he refers. “If I wait, the grave is mine house; I have made my bed in the darkness. I have said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister. And where is now my hope? as for my hope, who shall see it? They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust.” Job 17:13-16. MPC 22.1

But, says the objector, does not Solomon say, [Ecclesiastes 12:7.] “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit return unto God, who gave it?” Does not this text show that there is a spirit which exists after the body is dead? If so, may it not be the immortal soul, of which we have been speaking? MPC 23.1

If it be claimed that this text proves the existence of the spirit after the body is dead; we reply, it cannot be shown by the language of the text before us whether that spirit is conscious or unconscious, happy or miserable, separated from the body. If we should admit that it proved the existence of the spirit, it simply states that that “spirit returns to God, who gave it.” The text speaks of the spirit God gave in a familiar manner, as though all would understand perfectly well what was referred to. We conclude there must be testimony in the divine record of man’s creation, that will enlighten our minds as respect the spirit God gave. If it is some spirit which has been given since that time, it cannot by any part of man, and thus cannot be an immortal soul. Before passing to give an exposition of this text, we shall examine the scripture account of man’s creation, to discern whether God did endow man with an immortal soul. MPC 23.2

The first mention made of man in the Bible is in the account of the labor of the sixth day, Genesis 1:26. “And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion. etc.,” Verse 27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” What is meant by saying God created man in his own image? According to the faith of the Church, it cannot be that literally man was made in the form of God; for the Discipline states, “There is but one living and true God, without body or parts,” and some say without passions. If this be the case, then man’s being in the image of God, must have some other explanation, than that his form was like God. It has been claimed that this was a moral image; that is, man was formed with a character like God; and as God is immortal, man, to be like him morally, must also be immortal. Moral pertains to character. Although the word states, God pronounced all his work very good, yet man, as we shall show, was left to form his own character. MPC 23.3

But in carrying out this matter we wish to inquire further in regard to man’s creation. Genesis 2:7 states, “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.” If the image of God referred to in chapter first is a mortal image, then the dust of the ground was in the moral image of God. Man was in the image of God before the breath of life was breathed into him; afterwards he is called a living soul. We see at once that this image of God in which man is formed cannot be a moral image; for it would involve the absurdity that inanimate matter possessed a character like God. If it be a fact that man was made literally in the image of God, we have been taught wrong in regard to the nature of that God. MPC 24.1

This leads us to the investigation of the necessary inquiry, MPC 25.1