THERE has been a great deal said on this subject which is not clear to my mind; it is a subject which has engaged the attention of men in all ages; men of science have endeavored to reach a final conclusion by comparing notes with ancient writers; among the most learned thinkers who take a scientific view of the subject nothing permanent has been established. In certain literary circles very many exhaustive articles have been written and circulated on Psychology, or the natural philosophy of the soul of man. It is generally assumed that if the soul lives after the death of the body that it is immortal. Many well informed men, as well as Bible readers, fail to understand the meaning of the word immortal. The evidence that science has furnished has not proved that the soul has au interminable existence. Science is forever debarred from penetrating any further than physics. If we turn backward to the pages of history for evidence, it is only a repetition of what modern science has taught. The opinions of men in any age are worth only what is founded on positive evidence. Man may have notions called beliefs, yet no belief can be established without evidence. This is well known in the simplest affairs of life. According to the investigation of science, man to-day is left in the profoundest uncertainty. Tradition cannot furnish proof to relieve the mind of man from this uncertainty. Shall we assume a thing to be true without proof? “The immortality of the soul,” is an expression which has been circulated for centuries. If we take the Scriptures as authority on this subject, can this language be proven to be true? Very many places in the Scriptures “the soul “means a person, as in the first mention of the word, Gen. ii. 2: “And man became a living soul.” This is referred to by Paul in 1 Cor. xv. 45: “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul.” Also is this meaning of soul used in the following places: Num. xxxi. 28: “One soul of five hundred;” Prov. xix. 15: “And an idle soul shall suffer hunger;” Prov. xxvii. 7: “The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet;” Rom. xiii. 1: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.” However, in many other places the word soul is used to denote the life principle within man. Nowhere in the Scriptures is it said that the soul is immortal. It does say that “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” – Ezek. xviii. 20. Jesus says in Matthew x. 28: “Put rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” It is apparent from the last quotations that the soul is susceptible to death. Death means the opposite to life, or the end of life. If the soul of man is life itself, there is a possibility of it being put out. How then can we say, in an absolute sense, that the soul of man is immortal? Immortality means life that cannot be destroyed; not only life that has no end, but life that is not subject to any authority; life that is altogether independent. The word immortal, or immortality, is used but a few times in the Scriptures, and only by the apostle Paul; he in speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ to Timothy, 1 Tim. vi. 1G, points it out as being peculiar to him: “Who only hath immortality.” In another place he calls Jesus “the King eternal, immortal.” – 1 Tim. i. 17. Where Paul speaks of men aspiring to immortality, it is for them in the future, and to be “put on.” This would indicate that man in this life state has not immortality. Immortality is only reached through death in the resurrection of the just. In this life it is in prospect, and secured by hope in the soul of them “who have lied for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.” The culmination of that hope is on the other side of death. This harmonizes with Paul’s teaching to Titus, i. 2: “In hope of eternal life.” And again in Titus iii. 7: “According to the hope of eternal life.” It is evident that Paul meant immortality when he used these words to Titus, just the same as he meant in Romans ii. 7: “To them who, by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.” It is in harmony with Paul’s teaching to say that no creature or being can attain unto immortality only those who are brought from the power of death by the blood of Jesus the Redeemer; only the redeemed who shall come out of every nation, kindred, tongue and people shall be enabled to “put on immortality.” When it is once put on it can never be put off. Is not this a boundless theme for mortals to consider? O where will the wonders of eternity cease with those who are redeemed and placed on high? Angels have desired to look into these things, but they have not been permitted to attain to the great height of immortality.
Part of this article I have copied from one which I wrote for an independent journal of literature; if it meets the minds of the editors of the Signs they can publish it.
J. F. BEEMAN.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 74., No. 20.
OCTOBER 15, 1906.