In the Light of the Old Testament

 •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 7
It may be asked, What do we know of the origin of spirit, soul and body? It is right that we should seek to know the meaning of what God has seen fit to write in His Word. Neither intellect nor science can answer this question. These notes from Scripture on this subject have helped the writer; they may also help and interest the reader.
Man, as God’s creature, is made up of these three distinct parts. Like men, the animals are said in Scripture to possess both soul and body, but not spirit. In the Word of God (Gen. 1), where alone we can read anything of the origin of this present creation, God has been pleased to instruct us as to this matter. “Let the waters bring forth  .  .  .  the moving creature that hath life [or, in Hebrew, nephesh, soul]” (ch. 1:20); and again, in verse 21, “Every living creature that moveth [or, every living soul — the same word].” So also in verse 24, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature [or, living soul] after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.” God thus created them, by His word, living souls [ghahy nephesh] upon the earth; and verse 30 tells us that that class wherein there is soul [nephesh] includes every beast of the earth, every fowl of the air, and everything that creeps upon the earth.
But when we come to man, we read something different. As to all the animals, God had but spoken and had called them into being. At the fiat of their Creator they had come forth; but He now consults as to the creature that is to have dominion. That is man. Neither the earth, nor the air, nor the sea is called upon to produce him. He is to be made, and made also in the very image and after the likeness of God. “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness” (ch. 1:26). “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [n’shahmah ghahy ] ; and man became a living soul [ghahy nephesh]” (ch. 2:7) —the same expression as we find used of the animals in Genesis 1:2121And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:21). But what an important and twofold difference! First, man was, as to his body, God’s own formation out of the dust of the ground — not, as they were, called into being by a word. Second, he was, as and when he was thus formed, the receiver (from God still) of this n’shahmah of life into his nostrils. Thus the formation of his body and his inspiration, by which it is said he became a living soul (ghahy nephesh), are by no secondary means. Both are immediately from God, two things which we do not read of any of the lower creatures.
But further, “There is a spirit [rooagh] in man: and the inspiration [n’shahmah] of the Almighty giveth them understanding” (Job 32:88But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. (Job 32:8)); so says Elihu. But that the beasts have “no understanding” David tells us in Psalm 32:99Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. (Psalm 32:9), using this same word for “understanding.” Again, he also says, “Man that is in honor, and understandeth not [same word], is like the beasts that perish” (Psa. 49:2020Man that is in honor, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish. (Psalm 49:20)). The prophet Isaiah also declares that they (the beasts) have not the spirit (rooagh). “Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit” (Isa. 31:33Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together. (Isaiah 31:3)). With men, therefore, the beasts partake both of soul and body, but not of spirit. As to the spirit (rooagh) in man, it too (as soul and body are) is God’s work. The first place we read this word rooagh in Scripture, it is applied to God (Gen. 1:22And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:2)). We read that “in the beginning God [Elohim] created the heaven and the earth.” Later, when the creation, as it at present exists, was formed, we read, “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Elihu also, who applies this word to the spirit in man (Job 32:88But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. (Job 32:8)), applies the same word to God in Job 33:44The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. (Job 33:4). This spirit God forms in man. “The Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit [rooagh] of man within him” (Zech. 12:11The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him. (Zechariah 12:1)).
That both soul and spirit were not confounded, but were known and distinguished, we may learn from other passages of the Old Testament. Hezekiah said that he spoke in the bitterness of his “soul [nephesh]”; but he adds, “In all these things is the life of my spirit [rooagh]” (Isa. 38:15-1615What shall I say? he hath both spoken unto me, and himself hath done it: I shall go softly all my years in the bitterness of my soul. 16O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so wilt thou recover me, and make me to live. (Isaiah 38:15‑16)). Job says, “I will speak in the anguish of my spirit [rooagh]; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul [nephesh]” (Job 7:1111Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. (Job 7:11)). Job also contrasts soul and spirit — the first being that of every living thing, and the second that which is alone in man — when he says, “In whose hand is the soul [nephesh] of every living thing, and the breath [rooagh] of all mankind” (Job 12:1010In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind. (Job 12:10)).
As to the spirit being a separate formation of God in every man, and not a mere influence, we read of “the spirit [rooagh] of Zerubbabel,” and “the spirit of Joshua,” and “the spirit of all the remnant” in Haggai 1:1414And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, (Haggai 1:14); of “the spirit of Elijah” (2 Kings 2:15); of “the spirit of Pul” and “the spirit of Tilgathpilneser” (1 Chron. 5:26), as well as of “the spirit of Cyrus” (Ezra 1:11Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, (Ezra 1:1)).
The beasts perish (Psa. 49:1212Nevertheless man being in honor abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish. (Psalm 49:12)), but as to man, both soul and spirit are immortal. This, found fully in the New Testament, to which I do not now refer, we find also in the Old. It is written, “God hath made man upright” (Eccl. 7:2929Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions. (Ecclesiastes 7:29)). Of his threefold formation we have already spoken —“spirit and soul and body.” We may now look at what is immortal in him. Job, of whom we have already heard, who spoke of all three — spirit, soul and body (see Job 10:1,11-121My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. (Job 10:1)
11Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews. 12Thou hast granted me life and favor, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit. (Job 10:11‑12)
), and lived most probably long before the writing of the book of Genesis — knew himself as one who would exist after death. In speaking of that event, and of the time when the worm should have destroyed this outward, visible frame, he says, “Yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:2626And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: (Job 19:26)). That is, I, the man Job, the complete workmanship of God, spirit, soul and body — “in my flesh shall I see God.” For that which is destroyed by death (and even this, as to man, is only for a time) is merely this external shell, the tenement that contains both spirit and soul.
Daniel also may be referred to: “But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days” (ch. 12:13). Daniel speaks of Nebuchadnezzar’s “spirit [rooagh]” (ch. 2:1,3), and of his own “spirit [rooagh]” (ch. 7:15). This spirit and the soul and the body formed the man Daniel; and this man will stand in his lot “at the end of the days”; the body may have long since turned to dust; Daniel still rests and still waits to stand in his lot in the end of the days — an end not yet come. The soul departs at death from its tenement. It is not affected by death. “As her soul [nephesh] was in departing, (for she died)” (Gen. 35:1818And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Ben-oni: but his father called him Benjamin. (Genesis 35:18)). Here too Ecclesiastes is clear as to the future of the spirit, speaking now of man, and without doubt on the matter: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit [rooagh] shall return unto God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:17).
It is by means of the body that the varied feelings and emotions of man manifest themselves. Some of these are ascribed to the spirit in Scripture, some to the soul, some to both soul and spirit. Thus the spirit (rooagh) is troubled (Gen. 41:88And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh. (Genesis 41:8); Job 21:44As for me, is my complaint to man? and if it were so, why should not my spirit be troubled? (Job 21:4); Dan. 2:11And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him. (Daniel 2:1)); revives, or is strengthened (Gen. 45:2727And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived: (Genesis 45:27)); is anguished (Ex. 6:99And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage. (Exodus 6:9); Job 7:1111Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. (Job 7:11)); is endowed with wisdom (Ex. 28:33And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron's garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office. (Exodus 28:3); Deut. 34:99And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses. (Deuteronomy 34:9)); is jealous (Num. 5:1414And the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be defiled: or if the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be not defiled: (Numbers 5:14)); is sorrowful (1 Sam. 1:15; 1 Kings 21:5); is contrite or humble (Psa. 34:1818The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (Psalm 34:18); Prov. 16:19; 29:2319Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud. (Proverbs 16:19)
23A man's pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit. (Proverbs 29:23)
; Isa. 57:15; 66:215For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. (Isaiah 57:15)
2For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. (Isaiah 66:2)
); is broken (Psa. 51:1717The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalm 51:17); Prov. 15:1313A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. (Proverbs 15:13)); is overwhelmed (Psa. 142:3; 143:43When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me. (Psalm 142:3)
4Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate. (Psalm 143:4)
); is faithful (Prov. 11:1313A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter. (Proverbs 11:13)); is hasty (Prov. 14:2929He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly. (Proverbs 14:29); Eccl. 7:99Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools. (Ecclesiastes 7:9)); is haughty (Prov. 16:1818Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18); Eccl. 7:88Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. (Ecclesiastes 7:8)); is wounded (Prov. 18:1414The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear? (Proverbs 18:14)); is patient (Eccl. 7:88Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. (Ecclesiastes 7:8)); is grieved (Dan. 7:1515I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. (Daniel 7:15); Isa. 54:66For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. (Isaiah 54:6)); errs (Isa. 29:2424They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine. (Isaiah 29:24); Ezek. 13:33Thus saith the Lord God; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! (Ezekiel 13:3)). It learns too the humbling lesson that there is nothing under the sun for the “spirit” of man, but only “vanity and vexation” (Eccl. 1:14,17; 2:11,17,26; 4:4,16; 6:914I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. (Ecclesiastes 1:14)
17And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. (Ecclesiastes 1:17)
11Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:11)
17Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit. (Ecclesiastes 2:17)
26For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit. (Ecclesiastes 2:26)
4Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit. (Ecclesiastes 4:4)
16There is no end of all the people, even of all that have been before them: they also that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and vexation of spirit. (Ecclesiastes 4:16)
9Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this is also vanity and vexation of spirit. (Ecclesiastes 6:9)
).
Of the soul (nephesh) we read that it departs from the body at death (Gen. 35:1818And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Ben-oni: but his father called him Benjamin. (Genesis 35:18); 1 Kings 17:21-22), as we have seen the spirit does in Ecclesiastes 12:77Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12:7); that it blesses (Gen. 27:4,19,25,314And make me savory meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die. (Genesis 27:4)
19And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me. (Genesis 27:19)
25And he said, Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my son's venison, that my soul may bless thee. And he brought it near to him, and he did eat: and he brought him wine, and he drank. (Genesis 27:25)
31And he also had made savory meat, and brought it unto his father, and said unto his father, Let my father arise, and eat of his son's venison, that thy soul may bless me. (Genesis 27:31)
; Psa. 103:1212As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)); it loves (Gen. 34:3,83And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel. (Genesis 34:3)
8And Hamor communed with them, saying, The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter: I pray you give her him to wife. (Genesis 34:8)
; Song of Sol. 1:7; 3:147Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions? (Song of Solomon 1:7)); knows anguish (Gen. 42:2121And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us. (Genesis 42:21)); has appetites or tastes (Lev. 7:18,2018And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings be eaten at all on the third day, it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be imputed unto him that offereth it: it shall be an abomination, and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity. (Leviticus 7:18)
20But the soul that eateth of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings, that pertain unto the Lord, having his uncleanness upon him, even that soul shall be cut off from his people. (Leviticus 7:20)
; Num. 21:55And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. (Numbers 21:5); Deut. 12:15,20-2115Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and as of the hart. (Deuteronomy 12:15)
20When the Lord thy God shall enlarge thy border, as he hath promised thee, and thou shalt say, I will eat flesh, because thy soul longeth to eat flesh; thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after. 21If the place which the Lord thy God hath chosen to put his name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock, which the Lord hath given thee, as I have commanded thee, and thou shalt eat in thy gates whatsoever thy soul lusteth after. (Deuteronomy 12:20‑21)
; Job 6:7; 33:207The things that my soul refused to touch are as my sorrowful meat. (Job 6:7)
20So that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat. (Job 33:20)
; Psa. 78:1818And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust. (Psalm 78:18)); has lusts or desires (Deut. 14:2626And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household, (Deuteronomy 14:26); 1 Sam. 20:4; 1 Kings 11:37; Psa. 42:2; 84:22My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:2)
2My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. (Psalm 84:2)
); hates (2 Sam. 5:8); abhors (Lev. 26:4343The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes. (Leviticus 26:43); Zech. 11:88Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me. (Zechariah 11:8)); thinks (Esther 4:1313Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. (Esther 4:13)); sorrows (Lev. 26:1616I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. (Leviticus 26:16)); is vexed (2 Kings 4:27; Job 19:22How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words? (Job 19:2)); is bowed down (Psa. 57:66They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah. (Psalm 57:6)); is troubled (Psa. 88:33For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave. (Psalm 88:3)); faints (Psa. 107:5,265Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. (Psalm 107:5)
26They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. (Psalm 107:26)
; Jonah 2:77When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. (Jonah 2:7)); is relieved (Lam. 1:11,16,1911All her people sigh, they seek bread; they have given their pleasant things for meat to relieve the soul: see, O Lord, and consider; for I am become vile. (Lamentations 1:11)
16For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me: my children are desolate, because the enemy prevailed. (Lamentations 1:16)
19I called for my lovers, but they deceived me: my priests and mine elders gave up the ghost in the city, while they sought their meat to relieve their souls. (Lamentations 1:19)
); is in bitterness (Job 10:11My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. (Job 10:1); Isa. 38:1515What shall I say? he hath both spoken unto me, and himself hath done it: I shall go softly all my years in the bitterness of my soul. (Isaiah 38:15)); is weary (Jer. 31:2525For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul. (Jeremiah 31:25)); sins (Micah 6:77Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? (Micah 6:7)) and therefore needs atonement (Ex. 30:1516; Lev. 17:1111For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11); Num. 15:2828And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the Lord, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him. (Numbers 15:28)); has to be afflicted while it is made (Lev. 16:29,3129And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: (Leviticus 16:29)
31It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever. (Leviticus 16:31)
); so also it needs redemption (2 Sam. 4:9; Psa. 34:22; 49:8,15; 71:2322The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate. (Psalm 34:22)
8(For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:) (Psalm 49:8)
15But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah. (Psalm 49:15)
23My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed. (Psalm 71:23)
), salvation (Psa. 35:33Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation. (Psalm 35:3)) and conversion (Psa. 19:77The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7)). These lists, which are not exhaustive, may serve to illustrate what, in chief, is attached to, or emanates from, both soul and spirit.
From the fact that Scripture nowhere asserts that the beasts have “spirit,” also that we have quoted the passages insisting upon the contrary, as well as from a careful comparison of these two lists, I think it is clear that the “spirit” is the higher part in man. It (rooagh) is also spoken of the Spirit of God. Man becomes like the beasts, if he has no understanding, as David says; and it is “the inspiration [n’shahmah] of the Almighty” (Job 32:88But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. (Job 32:8)) — not given to them as it was to man — that is the secret of this understanding in man. The understanding, therefore, is connected with the “spirit” in man, and not with the “soul.”
Gathering up from what has been said of both soul and spirit in the Old Testament, it is not difficult to see that the eternal existence of man is taught in it, and was accepted long before the light of the New Testament, as to these things, shone out in all its fullness. If man is blind, he cannot see it; and then he may go so far as to deny (as some have done, and do still) that it is there. Even in his blindness he may teach that man does not exist forever; but there it shines, God’s truth, nevertheless.
There is a solemn word in Malachi 2:1616For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously. (Malachi 2:16), where we read a final exhortation to the “spirit [rooagh]” which was led away through the desires and affections (Gen. 3:66And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Genesis 3:6); 1 Tim. 2:14) of the “soul.” “Therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.” “Vanity and vexation of spirit” ought to turn the man to God, ought to lead him to take heed, and to look above the sun for what he fails to find beneath it. But to deny the immortality of the soul or spirit, and the resurrection of the body, or, in a word, the eternal existence of the man whom God has formed, is thus to deal treacherously with ourselves and with God, and leaves still all the “vanity and vexation” there. “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:2828Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)). Blessed words, words of life and light, coming from Him who “made man upright”; words sounding amid all the wearying vista of this life for every poor sinner who will “take heed.”