DEAR BRETHREN Beebe: – My mind has been exercised for some weeks on Genesis ii. 7: “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 not asking too much, will you give your views through the SIGNS OF THE TIMES on the above quotation, especially the latter clause? By so doing, you will greatly oblige a constantly are of the SIGNS.
Yours in hope of eternal life,
Peytona, Kentucky., Jan. 24, 1880.
REPLY: – Although many conflicting theories have been promulgated in regard to the creation of the world, the formation and animation of man, and many have attempted to explain the elements of which the nature of man consists, we doubt the possibility of making the subject any more plain than the inspired record, in which God, as declared by the pen of Moses, has left it. According to the chronology of the scriptures, Moses lived and wrote the account of the creation of the heavens and earth and all that they contain about twenty - three hundred years after their creation; consequently we conclude the whole account given by him was made known to him by the immediate and infallible inspiration of god; and it appears him pious to us for any man to attempt to enlarge upon, improve, or controverted what God has said on this or on any other subject. What was thus written aforetime in the holy scriptures was written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. – Rom. xv. 4. Thus the scriptures were written for nobler and more sacred purpose than to gratify our speculative curiosity and regarded the history of past events. When we consider the heavens as the workmanship of God, and the firmament showing his handiwork, humbled, and yet transported in the contemplation, we cry out, “What is man, that thou are mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?” – Psalm viii. 4. Next in gradation, but of the lower than the angels, he was made, and crowned with the Glory in all honor of dominion over the works of his Maker. His elevation as a man, his transgression as a center, and his humiliation when driven out of the garden, all are calculated to excite wonder that any of his fallen and depraved progeny should be regarded by the Creator in mercy, were visited by him in love. We attempt to scan the firmaments above and below, and we learn how feeble are hour perceptive powers. Above, below, and all around us are evidences of infinite wisdom and almighty power, and a strong an irresistible conviction fastens on our little minds, There is a Being supremely glorious, infinite in power and majesty, who is made all things for himself, whose indisputable write it is to govern, control and hold the destiny of all things, all beings in all invents in his own sovereign hands. And when we are informed by the testimony of God himself that all things were made by and for him, whose name is called the Word of God, we truly through comfort of the scriptures have hope. Nor can we doubt that he whose hands have garnished the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth can sustain the truth of his declaration, that all power in heaven and in earth is in his hands, and he is therefore abundantly able to keep securely all that we have committed to him, and therefore, also, we have hope.
In all that was called into existence by the creative power and wisdom of God in the six days of the creation of the natural heavens and earth, there is most undoubtedly typified the spiritual creation of the new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness; but of these things we cannot now speak more fully, as we are called to express such views as we have of the text which we have placed at the head of this article, especially on the Las clause of the text.
“and the Lord God,” the supreme Jehovah, “formed man of the dust of the ground;” or as the margin renders it, the dust of the ground, omitting the word of. The name Adam, which was given, signifies, earthy man; red. And this agrees with what God said to him after the transgression, “For dust thou art.” It also agrees with the words of Paul, “The first man is of the earth, earthy.” – 1 Cor. XV. 47. This was his name at the time of his formation, and by this name he was called by his Creator after the transgression. Now formed, Dust of the ground, before he was inspired with vitality, he was formed; but although formed and called a man, or Dust of the ground, we presume he remained inanimate until God breathed into him the breath of life; then man became a living soul. The manner in which God, who is a cap spirit, breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life, is not explained, nor is it necessary for us to know, but we presume it was by the same word of his power which called all things into existence; for as God is a cap spirit, we do not understand that he himself in hills and exhales the air, in the manner or sense in which his creatures do. This much, however, seems clear and certain, that he caused man to breathe by inhaling the air and his nostrils. Some have contended that the breath of God was so imparted to man, that man in its reception became a partaker of the immortality of God; but we’re told that Christ only hath immortality (1 Tim. vi. 16), and that both man and beast all have one breath, and in that respect there is no difference. – Eccl. iii. 19. But it is said of man that he became a living soul. True; but the same is also said of all the animal creation: “And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the year, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life,” (or as rendered in the margin it will read, wherein there is a living soul). – See Gen i. 30, and observe the marginal rendering of this, and also of verse 20, same chapter. Tradition makes the word soul to mean something proceeding from the breath of the Creator and partaking of his nature, which is immortal, and which is imparted to man, distinguishing him from other created living beings; and we also had regarded the soul as some undefinedable element or constituent part of man, by which he is distinguished from all other living beings, until hour attention was called to the marginal readings, before referred to, by a brother in Liverpool, England. Whenever maybe the application of the word soul in other parts of the scriptures, if the marginal renderings in these passages are correct, it is here you simply to mean vitality, and all living beings are here called living souls. That man is destined two an interminable existence we firmly believe, and that his spirit go upward when separated in death from the body, while the spirits or souls of the beasts go with downward with their bodies to the dust, we believe is taught in the scripture; but who know what the spirit of the one or of the other? Of man it is said, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: in the spirit shall return unto god who gave it.” – Ecclesiastes xii. 7. And when the dust shall be returned to the earth, and the spirit to God, that perpetuated state of man shall be as God shall direct, in that destiny which the just and holy God has ordained.
Brother Jordan has asked for our views on the subject, and such views as we yet present have, though but the views of a pour fallible worm of the dust, fully as liable to err as others are, we freely submit them to his consideration, desiring that he and our readers generally may receive them only so far as they are sustained by the scriptures of divine truth.
Elder Gilbert Beebe,
Middletown, N. Y.
Signs of the Times
Volume 48, No. 10.
May 15, 1880.