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by Dr. John Thomas
But here I use not the word spiritual, lest it should be confounded with that intellectual and moral life a man possesses when the "incorruptible seed" of the kingdom takes root in his heart; and when, in "obedience of faith," he passes from under the sentence of death to the sentence of justification unto life eternal.
But, at present, we have to do with animal or natural life, which is all the life the fleshly sons of the first Adam can boast of.
Enough, however, I think has been advanced to show the scriptural import of the text already quoted, that "the Lord God formed man, the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives, and man became a living soul".
The simple, obvious, and undogmatic meaning of this, is, that the dust was first formed into "clay," which was then modelled by Jehovah Elohim into the form of the soul called "man," as a potter shapes the substance of his vessels.
Thus, Elihu said to Job, "I also am formed out of the clay" and again, "We are the clay, and thou our potter; and we are all the work of thy hand".
The fashioning of the clay being accomplished in all its component parts, which in the aggregate constitute man; that is, the dust being animalized, and then organized, the next thing was to set all the parts of this exquisite mechanism into motion.
This was effected by the in- rush of the air through his nostrils into his lungs according to the natural laws.
This phenomenon was the neshemet el, or "breath of God," breathing into him; and as it was the pabulum of life to all creatures formed from the dust, it is very expressively styled "the breath of lives" in the plural number.
Some imagine that Jehovah Elohim placed His mouth to the nostrils of the as yet clay-cold man-soul prostrate before Him, and so breathed into them.
Be this as it may; of this, however, we are without doubt, that God breathes into every man at his birth the breath of lives to this day; and I see no scriptural reason why we should deny that He breathed it into Adam as He hath done into the nostrils of his posterity, namely, by the operation of the natural, or pneumatic, laws.
Hitherto, man, though a soul formed from the ground, had been inanimate; but, as soon as he began to respire, like the embryo passing from f║tal to infant life, he "became a living soul," not an everliving, but simply nephesh chayiah, a living breathing frame, or body of life.
MAN IN THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF THE ELOHIM "Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels".
Men and beasts, say the scriptures, "have all one ruach or spirit; so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast".
The reason assigned for this equality is the oneness of their spirit, which is proved by the fact of their common destiny; as it is written, "for all are vanity": that is, "all go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again".
Yet this one spirit manifests its tendencies differently in men and other creatures.
In the former, it is aspiring and God-defying, rejoicing in its own works, and devoted to the vanity of the passing hour; while in the latter, its disposition is grovelling to the earth in all things.
Thus, the heart of man being "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know or fathom it?
" -- Solomon was led to exclaim, "Who knoweth the spirit of the sons of Adam, ruach beni headam, which exalts itself to the highest, and the spirit of a beast which inclines to the earth?
" We may answer, "None, but God only"; He knoweth what is in man, and needs not that any should testify of him.
But, from this testimony someone might infer that, as man was made only "a little lower than the angels," and yet has "no pre-eminence over a beast," the beast also is but a little lower than the angels.
This, however, would be a very erroneous conclusion.
The equality of men and other animals consists in the kind of life they possess in common with each other.
Vanity, or mortality, is all that pertains to any kind of living flesh.