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by Dr. John Thomas
From these testimonies, I think, it must be obvious to the most unlearned, that the argument for the existence of an "immortal soul" in "sinful flesh," hereditarily derived from the first sinner, predicated on the inspiration of his nostrils with "the breath of lives" by the Lord God, and the consequent application to him of the phrase "living soul," if admitted as good logic, proves too much, and therefore nothing to the purpose.
For if man be proved to be immortal in this sense, and upon such premises as these, then all quadrupeds are similarly immortal; which none, I suppose, but believers in the transmigration of souls, would be disposed to admit.
The original condition of the animal world was "very good".
Unperverted by the production of evil, all its constituents fulfilled the purposes of its existence.
Begotten of the same power, and formed from the substance of a common mother, they were all animated by the same spirit, and lived in peace and harmony together.
Formed to be living breathing frames, though of different species, in God they lived, and moved, and had their continued being; and displayed His wisdom, power, and handiwork.
But, to return to the philology of our subject, I remark that by a metonymy, or figure of speech in which the container is put for the thing contained, and vice-versa, nephesh, "breathing frame," is put for neshemet ruach chayim, which, when in motion, the frame respires.
Hence, nephesh signifies "life," also "breath" and "soul" -- Life, or those mutually effective, positive and negative principles in all living creatures, whose closed circuits cause motion of and in their frames.
These principles or qualities, perhaps, of the same thing, are styled by Moses Ruach Elohim, or Spirit of Him "who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, which no man hath seen, nor can see," and which, when the word was spoken by "the Holy Gods," first caused a motion upon the waters, and afterwards disengaged the light, evolved the expanse, aggregated the waters, produced vegetation, manifested the celestial universe, vitalized the breathing frames of the dry land, expanse, and seas; and formed man in their image and likeness.
This ruach, or spirit, is neither the Uncreated One who dwells in light, the Lord God, nor the Elohim, His co-workers, who co-operated in the elaboration of the natural world.
It was the instrumental principle by which they executed the commission of the glorious Increate to erect this earthly house, and furnish it with living souls of every species.
It is this ruach, or instrumentally formative power, together with the neshemeh or breath, which keeps them all from perishing, or returning to the dust.
Thus, "If God set His heart against man, He will withdraw to himself ruachu veneshmetu, ie., his spirit and his breath; all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again to dust".
In another place, "By the neshemet el, or breath of God, frost is given".
Speaking of reptiles and beasts, David saith, "Thou withdrawest ruachem, ie., their spirit -- they die; and to their dust they return.
Thou sendest forth ruhech, ie., thy spirit -- they are created". And again, "Whither shall I fly, meruhech, from thy spirit". From these testimonies it is manifest that the ruach or spirit is all pervading.
It is in heaven, in sheol, or the dust of the deepest hollow, in the uttermost depths of the sea, in the darkness, in the light, and in all things animate, and without life.
It is a universal principle in the broadest, or rather, in an illimitable sense.
It is the substratum of all motion, whether manifested in the diurnal and ellipsoidal revolutions of the planets, in the flux and reflux of the sea, in the storms and tempests of the expanse, or in the organism of reptiles, cattle, beasts, fish, fowl, vegetables, or men.
The atmospheric expanse is charged with it; but it is not the air: plants and animals of all species breathe it; but it is not their breath: yet without it, though filled with air, they would die.
The atmosphere, which extends some forty-five miles in altitude, and encircles the globe, is styled the expanse, by Moses; and the breath of God, in Job.
It is a compound body, consisting, when pure, of nitrogen and oxygen, in the proportion of 79 of the former and 21 of the latter, in 100 parts.
These are considered as simple bodies, because they have not yet been decomposed; though it is probable they have a base, which may be the ruach.