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inferior it might be, is closely allied to the great IMMORTAL SPIRIT, who brought into existence the works of creation by no other act or process than by willing that they should be. That this connection does exist between the soul which animates the human body, and the Immortal Spirit of the Most High, is not only thus reasonably inferred, but it is likewise asserted with sufficient clearness towards the conclusion of the chapter from whence we have taken our text. "God said, let us make man in our own image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them."a
The eternity of the Most High undoubtedly consists in his being without beginning as well as without end. But certainly, in reference to a created object, whether material or immaterial, whether bodily or spiritual, it cannot be said that it has been without a beginning; yet may the latter bear a strong resemblance to the Creator, if, when it is once brought into existence, this existence should be destined to be immortal, if it be destined to last for ever and ever.
It is therefore, brethren, from the creative power of God, by no difficult transition, I conceive, that we arrive at the Immortality of the Soul. And if
a Gen. i. 26, 27.
the soul be immortal, its superiority over matter cannot be for a moment doubted. It was the Spirit of God which wrought such wonders at the creation, and the ability which the Almighty then displayed, evidently and incontestably depended upon his having existed from all eternity. "In the beginning
God created the heaven and the earth." God therefore was before the beginning; for it was in or at the beginning that He was already prepared to bring his creative power into action. If, therefore, the soul of man be of the same nature as, and intimately allied to, this creative spirit, must not this likewise be superior to matter, though it may not be to an equal extent? And does not this superiority frequently display itself, if not by the dominion which man exercises over the brute creation, yet certainly by the movements of the body, which are ever dependent on and subservient to the impulse of the soul? And, brethren, when we consider that this intellectual and spiritual ability has been granted us by God, and that this power from the commencement until the end of its earthly existence is capable of increasing in magnitude, and when we further consider that nothing tends so much to impede our mental energy as the body in which the soul is fettered and imprisoned, who shall take on himself to assert, that the mental and spiritual part of our being will not in the course of time (after death for example) arrive at such extensive ability, and at such a degree of perfection, as will enable it of itself to summon to its presence
the identical body whose movements it so easily directed before its mortal dissolution.
It was God, by the word of his Spirit, who created the heaven and the earth out of nothing. It was the same God who likewise formed the material or bodily part of man of the dust of the ground, and afterwards breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, "by which means man became a living soul.” By this process was it that the determination of the Almighty was fulfilled when he said "Let us make man in our image and after our likeness." And in virtue of this peculiar creation of man, which differed from that of all other animals, he was enabled to exercise dominion over the whole earth, and “over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." This dominion is not complete; it is not equal to that of the Almighty: yet is it more or less apparent, and more or less complete, according to the objects to which it applies. And every common observer cannot fail to remark, that this dominion of man over the whole material world becomes greater and greater in the same ratio as the mind, the spiritual part of man, improves itself by study and application. Who, then, shall take upon himself to say where this improvement, and the power which is its natural consequence, shall cease? The corrupt body, as I have before observed, undoubtedly obstructs the power and extension of the mind, and though it advances much, yet would it advance still more were this obstruction removed a Gen. ii. 7.
from its path. When, however, the dissolution of our earthly tabernacle shall take place, then will the soul be no longer imprisoned, but having escaped into the immensity of space, an atmosphere so suitable and so congenial to her nature, she will doubtless obtain that power and that superiority over matter of which her bodily fetters had before deprived her. Undoubtedly, brethren, the spirit of man, whether in the body or out of the body, will at all times be subservient to the Eternal Spirit which brought it into existence. And though after death the soul has hitherto exercised no dominion over the body, yet is this inactivity to be regarded as the consequence of God's will; and it would not, I conceive, follow that the disembodied spirit could not return to the tenement which it had quitted, if it were not forbidden to do so by the uncontrollable will of the Most High. This prohibition, it is true, in the same way as it exists for a time, might likewise exist to all eternity. And in truth, if we had not the best and well authenticated reasons for believing otherwise, it might be feared that life and movement would never again be restored to the deceased corpse; but when the contrary of this is asserted, when we are told by an authority which we know to be no less authority than the word of God, that the resurrection of the body shall take place, we do not in such a case express our doubt or disbelief of the assurance because it appears impossible, but we rather look forward to it not only as a possibility, but as a probability; for that the soul
wills it, our present feelings assure us, and that she has the inherent ability to achieve it, cannot be doubted, when we reflect that the soul of man is an emanation of that Divine Spirit who created the world, and breathed into man's nostrils the breath of life.
Such, brethren, I conceive to be the train of argument which the reflecting mind is led into by the words of our text. By applying these to such a purpose as this, I imagine we apply them to a more useful and important purpose than we should do by endeavouring, through the means which they offer us, to ascertain the precise time when the heaven and the earth were created. We know, indeed, that these were created; we know likewise that they were created by God. More than this, we know that they were created in the beginning; but beyond this we know nothing. We know not when the beginning was which is here alluded to by Moses. And in reference to this I would observe, that the design of the Scriptures throughout is not to satisfy a useless and unnecessary curiosity, but their design is to provide us with such information as will directly or indirectly contribute to our spiritual edification.
I flatter myself, that some of the advantages to be derived from the fact of knowing who it was that created the heaven and earth, have been held out to you. But to know the precise time when these were created could not, I conceive, be of any essential use. We are not, perhaps, much mistaken as to