Functions and Relationships of Soul and Spirit
With these facts before us, the way is prepared for us to see a new and beautiful harmony in the Scripture teaching as to soul and spirit. That these are quite distinct from one another, though so nearly related, the word of God bears abundant witness. "Your whole spirit and soul and body," and "piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit," are passages sufficiently plain. But the question naturally arises, How, then, are they distinguished, and what are their relationships to one another? In the answer to this which the inspired writings furnish, we find also the fullest confirmation of the fact of the existence of these two separate* entities in the compound nature of man.
*Not separate or separable in Mr. Roberts' sense, as if ever disjoined from one another.
"Spirit and soul and body," which I have taken as the key to the discovery of man's nature, gives us, I believe, very clearly the order of relationship. The soul is here the connecting link between the spirit and the body. The spirit is the higher part. Hence, although it be true that "the body without the spirit is dead" (James ii. 26), yet the spirit is never looked at as the life of the body. The word for "life," as we have seen, is psuche or nephesh, in its secondary or derived meaning.
And to soul or spirit, not merely the moral qualities, but also the senses, and the emotional and intellectual faculties are ascribed. Striking fact for materialists, the brain (to which they ascribe everything) is not so much as once mentioned from Genesis to Revelation. Nor has the head; which contains the brain, any mental or moral faculties ascribed to it. "Visions of the head" are mentioned (Dan. iv. 10, etc.), plainly because the eyes are in it. But no mental or moral qualities, no faculties beside, are ever attributed to it.
I do not say this as doubting the result of men's researches in this respect. But, as fully allowing that the brain is the instrument of the intellect, it makes only the more striking the way in which the Spirit of God goes back of the mere fleshy organ to that of which it is merely the organ. Still more so, because feelings and faculties are attributed figuratively to the heart, the belly, the bowels, the kidneys (reins), the womb, and the flesh in general, but never to the head. Look at the remarks of Roberts* before cited, and see how the wisdom of God meets the insane folly of would-be philosophers. He who foreknow all these self-sufficient speculations, has poured contempt upon them by utter silence; while, except the figurative language alluded to, all the faculties of man are attributed to what their science of course cannot detect, the unseen soul or spirit. They may correct the Word indeed, and they are bold enough to do so, by their more perfect knowledge; but there stands the fact, let them meet it how they can.
*He reminds me that the eye sees, and the ear hears, and the flesh is pained, which does not perceptibly affect the argument. That he should further appeal to 1 Chron. xii. 32, Job xxxii. 8, and Prov. xxx. 2, as attributing "understanding to the whole mechanism of man as made of dust," is hopelessly unintelligible, except as he might hope that no one would read for himself the texts in question.
But moreover in proclaiming these attributes or functions of the spirit and the soul, there is no looseness of language, much less confusion. The mental faculties, emotions, sensual appetites, etc., are ascribed to soul or to spirit with the utmost exactness and the most unvarying harmony. It is to this point that I would call most earnest and special attention. We shall find in every case that intelligence and judgment belong to the spirit; the affections, desires, appetites, etc., to the soul. I place before my readers the passages, or all the varieties of them, upon which the judgment may be formed.
And first, with regard to spirit (ruach or pneuma)
- Gen. xli. 8: (Pharaoh's) spirit was troubled.
- Judges viii. 3 Their spirit was abated towards him.
- Psa. cvi. 33: They provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly.
- Prov. xiv. 29: He that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.
- Isa. xxix. 24: They that erred in spirit shall come to understanding.
- Ezek. i. 21 The spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.
- Mark viii 12: He sighed deeply in his spirit.
- Acts. xvii. 16: His spirit was stirred within him.
- 1 Cor. 2. ii. 11: What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him.
- Rendered in our version, "mind": Prov. xxix. 11 : A fool uttereth all his mind.
- Ezek. xi. 5: I know the things that come into your mind.
- Ezek. xx. 32: That which cometh into your mind.
- Dan. v. 20: His mind hardened in pride.
- "Understanding": Isa. xi. 4.
- "Courage": Josh. ii. 11.
Now here it will require no lengthened examination to see that the spirit is presented in Scripture as the seat of the mind or understanding, as we have just seen it to be sometimes even translated. The passage from 1 Cor. ii. 11, is indeed the most positive assertion of it that can well be: "What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?" Here the spirit of man in the man is that part of him to which all intelligence is referred. Hence we may know what to think of the knowledge or honesty displayed in such a statement as the following from one of Miles Grant's writings: "In all the 400 passages in the Old, and the 385 in the New Testament, where these words occur, we do not find one that teaches that when this spirit or breath is in man, it is the thinking, accountable part, or that it ever did or ever will think. Why is the Bible wholly silent on this point? Why are we not taught somewhere that the ruach or pneuma is the real man?"* Mr. Grant of course adopts the usual confusion of the breath of life with the spirit of man, and I do not mean to assert by any means, that the breath of life is the "real man." But to his latter question I do most positively and distinctly answer that the Bible does teach that the spirit of man is the conscious thinking part, and that his not seeing it is only due to his own blindness, not to its not being there. It says most definitely and distinctly, that the "man" which knows the "things of a man" is "the spirit of man, which is IN him." There is no escape from its plain speaking. It speaks so plainly indeed that Mr. Grant has seen it best to ignore its testimony in his pamphlet just referred to; and it is his silence that is to be remarked, and not the silence of the Scriptures.
*Spirit in Man, pp. 31, 32.
This "spirit of man," then, cannot be with Mr. Grant either an "influence" or "a state of feeling," or the "atmosphere or breath of life." It cannot be Mr. Morris' new nature (or else all unconverted men are born idiots), or "motions and emotions of the soul." No, it is simply what the words declare, a conscious intelligent existence in the man, and that to which all his intelligence of human things is due. "What man knoweth the things of a man, save the SPIRIT Of MAN which is IN him ?"
Passages which also identify the spirit as the seat of the mind or understanding, I have already quoted. It needs not to examine them here, except to show how other uses of the word are derived from this one. Thus, in Joshua ii. 11, and v. 1, it is used for "courage," the connection of which with "presence of mind" is familiar to all. And in Judges viii. 3, it is used for "anger," which is again the judgment of the mind, true or false, upon what presents itself to it as evil. Another use of the word, which also we have in English, for the prevailing temper or disposition, as "a meek and quiet spirit," a "spirit of pride," etc., seems derived from the fact of the spirit being in man the higher part, and the rightful governor of the man - what, in short, characterizes him.
Now let us gather, in a similar way, some passages as to the soul, and the difference will be at once apparent.
Thus it is the seat of the affections:
- Gen. xxxiv. 8: The soul of my son longeth for your daughter.
- 1 Sam. xviii. 1: The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David.
- Psa. xlii. 1: So panteth my soul after thee, 0 God.
- Psa lxiii. 1: 0 God, my soul thirsteth for Thee.
- Psa lxxxiv 2: My soul longeth for the courts of the Lord.
- Psa cxix. 20: My soul breaketh for the longing it hath.
- Cant. i. 7: 0 Thou whom my soul loveth.
- Isaiah xxvi. 9: With my soul have I desired thee in the night.
- Luke ii. 35 : A sword shall pierce through thine own soul.
- Heb. x. 38: My soul shall have no pleasure in him.
As it loves, so it hates:
- Lev. xxvi. 15: If your soul abhor my judgments.
- 2 Sam. v. 8: The blind, that are hated of David's soul.
- Zech. xi. 8: My soul loathed them.
- Judges x. 16: His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel .
- Job xxx. 25: Was not my soul grieved for the poor?
- Ezek. xxiv. 21: What your soul pitieth shall fall by the sword.
It is the seat of lusts:
- Job xxiii. 13: What his soul desireth, even that he doeth.
- Psa. x. 3: The wicked boasteth of his soul's desire.
- 1 Pet. ii. 11: Fleshly lusts which war against the soul.
Of the appetites, even, of the body:
- Psa. cvii. 18: Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat.
- Prov. xix. 15: An idle soul shall suffer hunger.
- Prov. xxv. 25: As cold waters to a thirsty soul.
- Prov. xxvii. 7: The full soul loatheth a honeycomb.
- Isaiah xxix. 8: His soul hath appetite.
- Lam. i. 11: Meat to relieve the soul.
- Luke xii. 19: Soul... take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
So its derived meanings are:
- "Appetite": Prov. xxiii. 2, Eccl. vi. 7.
- "Pleasure": Dent. xxiii. 24, Psa. cv. 22, Jer. xxxiv. 16.
- "Desire": Jer. xliv. 14, Mic. vii. 3, Hab. ii. 5.
- "Mind," in the sense of will or intention, not of the understanding: 1 Sam. ii. 35, 2 Kings ix. 15.
A slight examination of these passages will serve to demonstrate the truth of my former assertion as to the soul's place and functions. It is here seen plainly as the link between the spirit and the body: that which is indeed the life of the latter. The sense of "life" so often given to it in Scripture is plainly a meaning derived from this very fact. In all this the difference between soul and spirit is preserved in the most marked way, and the most thorough consistency maintained everywhere throughout the Bible.
Still objection has been taken to this statement. Mr. Roberts has even ventured the assertion that, on the contrary, "spirit" and "soul" are "used interchangeably in the most indiscriminate manner." He instances Luke i. 46, 47: "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." But he does not tell us how this shows their indiscriminate use. "My soul doth magnify" may well express how fully its longings are satisfied; while "my spirit hath rejoiced" only shows that there is a joy of the mind also. And so there is: and both thus testify the complete way in which the knowledge of a Saviour-God meets both, and unites man's whole being in praise. There is so little opposition here to the view above given, that it alone gives fulness and definiteness to what in Mr. Roberts' hands becomes a poor and unmeaning tautology.
He goes on:
"But the fact can be shown from the very passages which Mr. Grant has quoted: for instance, out of nine quoted to show that the spirit is the seat of the mind or understanding as contrasted with the soul as the seat of hate, love, lust, appetite, etc., six have to do with emotion, such as anger, fear," etc.... "A not very close examination shows them to teach that the spirit, in addition to understanding, has to do with trouble, anger, provocation, hastiness, sorrow and excitement, and is, therefore, not the higher entity of Mr. Grant's theory, having only to do with the exercise of reason."
But Mr. Roberts plainly does not apprehend the theory. He shows it by inferring from it "two surviving personalities, when the body has mouldered to dust." Spirit, soul and body are during life but one "personality," and certainly death does not make more than one. At death the body drops, for the time being, out of this tri-unity. Spirit and soul, on the other hand, are never sundered. In life or in death the mysterious links of connection are preserved, and if (in Mr. R.'s wording of it), the spirit is the thinker, and the soul the feeler, these are not independent of each other, - two personalities, but one. The knowledge of the spirit becomes the portion of the soul; the affections of the soul the possession of the spirit. This interdependence may find illustration in one of the texts quoted above, and which Mr. R. lays hold of as against the view: - "He sighed deeply in his spirit." Now "sighing" is a bodily, not a mental phenomenon at all. The language does not more confound soul and spirit than it does body and spirit, if rigidly (and unnaturally) construed. But it was mental trouble that produced the sigh, his spirit discerning the moral character of the expressed desire to see a sign from heaven. Pharaoh's spirit was in like manner troubled: in his case because he could not interpret his dream. In these cases, suppose the spirit was mind, why could we not speak of trouble of mind? In each case, the mind or spirit which discerns the things of a man is rightly named as the seat of the trouble. The soul in Pharaoh's case, soul and body in the Lord's, might be invoked; but the expressions are perfectly appropriate, and the distinction between soul and spirit gives them a real significance, which for materialism does not exist.
So I have shown above how the spirit is connected with "anger" (as in Judges viii. 3). Psa. cvi. 33, and Prov. xiv. 29 are really to be classed with this, as is evident; and Acts xvii., 6 is nearly related and easily intelligible.
But let me ask Mr. Roberts, has he found "hate, love, lust, appetite," in Scripture ascribed to the spirit? It is plain he has not, or we should have heard of it. Does not this look then, as if the "theory" had some foundation in fact?
As to the soul, Mr. R. asserts that the quotations -
"Show as a whole, that the ‘soul' of the Bible has as much to do with higher actions of the mind as the spirit: Thus Psa. xlii. 1, lxiii. 1, lxxxiv. 2; in all these, which are the first three quotations, it is David's soul that aspires after divine things, and therefore that apprehends knowledge. But this point is more obvious in some passages which of course he has not quoted. Thus Prov. xix. 2, ‘that the soul be without knowledge is not good'; Psa. cxxxix. 14, ‘That my soul KNOWETH right well;" Prov. ii. 10, ‘when knowledge is pleasant to thy SOUL'; Prov. xxiv. 14, ‘So shall the knowledge of wisdom be to thy soul.'"
That is Mr. Robert's disproof of the whole argument. It is easy to show here again that it is illusive and imaginary and that the view in question gives alone real distinctness of meaning to the texts.
For, as to the first three quotations how impossible would it be to say, "So panteth my mind after Thee," "my mind thirsteth," "my mind longeth." Certainly it has never been contended that the soul has not to do with divine things, any more than we could assert this of the heart, which we may take as in some sort its figurative synonym. On the contrary, it is the importance of their getting into the heart, and not being in the mind only, that is the key to the other texts so obscure to Mr. Roberts. The knowledge of wisdom must be thus sweet to the soul, in order to profit. If the mind acquire it. yet the heart enjoys it; and this is the explanation of the last two quotations. So we can well understand how "that the soul be without knowledge is not good": for the affections must be guided and governed by the understanding. Finally, that the soul (or heart) should appreciate God's "marvellous works," is thus not out of keeping: it is rightly not merely my mind knoweth, but my heart does. The view of the soul above given is not inconsistent with such texts as these, but on the contrary brings out their beauty. Mr. Roberts' objections are not merely superficial and powerless, but his weapons are easily turned against himself.
Nor only this, but he is grossly inconsistent with his own statements. For when he interprets the apostle's spirit and soul and body," he paraphrases it, as we have seen (p.30) by "body, life and mind." Here, in express contrast with the soul, he identifies the "spirit" with the "mind." I believe, indeed, it is inconsistent with his system, and have said so, but that does not alter the fact that here he is in manifest contradiction to himself.
I repeat, then, without fear of successful opposition, that while the spirit is in Scripture identified with the mind, the soul is the seat of the affections, right or wrong, of love, hate, lusts, and even of the appetites of the body.
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