Soul and Spirit in the Midst of Death


Sleep, as we have shown in Div. IV. Sec. XIV., is the periodical sinking down of the seventh, sixth, fifth psychico-somatical form of life retrogressively into the fourth, towards the first. The activity of the fourth, third, second, first, continues in sleep, and is partly even more intense and perceptible than in waking. If the activity of these lower forms of life ceases also, and is changed into its opposite, death supervenes. The heart stiffens (1 Sam.xxv. 37), or is broken (Jer. xxiii. 9); the blood stands still, or flows forth (in the case of a violent death); the last breath is drawn, to which no further one succeeds; the body, thrown back into the first form of life (that of the Q^i), sinks, after complete extinction of all animal and vegetative functions, into the purely elementary (psychico-chemical) decomposing process qf corruption (Siacf>dopa) in the womb of the earth (Job i. 21; Ecclus. xl. 1),—in the absolute reverse of the embryonic process of formation in the womb of the woman (Ps. cxxxix. 15).

Death therefore is, as it is very generally named- in Scripture, a falling asleep, but such an one as overpasses the natural limit which is set to mere sleep. For sleep is only the relative, while death is the absolute, opposite of waking; falling asleep, therefore, is a euphemism for dying (John xi. 11, etc.). He who has fallen into the sleep of death (lien JE^ Ps. xiii. 3), sleeps D^iy n:f (Jer. li. 39, 57). In the sleeper, the soul has withdrawn itself to the four lowest forms of life; in the dead person, it has wholly retired in the direction of these lower forms out of the body. The spontaneous power of reawakening is no longer there (Job xiv. 12).

It is the fc!S? which, in scriptural language, is poured out in violent death (Isa. liii. 12 ; Ps. cxli. 8), and is breathed forth in every kind of death (Job xi. 20, xxxi. 39, Jer. xv. 9; comp. Lam. ii. 12, 1 Kings xvii. 17). Scripture says directly, even that the soul dies (nioJn). That in this'mode of expression (Num. xxiii. 10, Judg. xvi. 30, Job xxxvi. 14; comp. Wisd. i. 11, Mark iii. 4) t?B3 does not synecdochically denote the person who possesses the soul, but the soul itself, is proved by the frequent form of speech t?W m3n, Gen. xxxvii. 21 (comp. K'W Deut. xxii. 26), according to which it is the soul of the man which in killing by violence is fatally stricken. This sounds wholly materialistic; and, indeed, what is true in materialism, is seen without qualification in Scripture.

But not as though the soul in itself, as distinct from the spirit, were mortal. This view, which attributes to man a brute and perishable soul as the link of his spirit and body, we must, after having often postponed its discussion, here finally get rid of. In Scripture, that which passes over from man when he dies, into the unseen world, Ps. xlix. 19, comp. ver. 16, xvi. 10 (Acts ii. 25), xxx. 3, is called, indeed, not only nvi, but also Ete3, as well as that which returns to the body when man again comes to life (1 Kings xvii. 22); and the departed are called as well yfrv^al (Apoc. vi. 9, xx. 4, comp. Wisd. iii. 1) as irv€Vfia.ra (1 Pet. iii. 19, Heb. xii. 23).1 Of the dying person is said just as much, his soul goeth forth (Gen. xxxv. 18), as his spirit goeth

1 From the (scAip/a fpurorox.u» dwaytyptfifclntt i> oipa>att, i.e. the church which is still struggling here below, with certain expectancy of the heavenly inheritance,—the church, whose new birth in relation to the still unglorified remaining creation is called a first birth,—are here distinguished the ir»fifiara iixaluv rtrttewftinn, i.e. the spirits of the righteous, of the old covenant, and of those added to them of the new covenant, which exist as spirits withdrawn from all inward and outward disturbances of the fleshly life, already in the position of completion, and are only still waiting for the exaltation of their bodies also into the position of completion; comp. the song of the three children, v. 63, where mitCfcura Ka! t^t,x:«i foxa!u» are called upon to praise the Lord. The Sohar calls the blessed in heaven K»p^yi J'nvi. Moreover, we remember the remarkable saying of Cicero: 0 prseclarum diem, cum ad illud divinum animorum concilium cselumque proficiscar cumque ex hac turba et colluvione discedam. In Homer, the departed are usually called ^Kjea/; but he also says, //. vii. 129, tvftit dira fiihki»» iirai liftu 'Alio;

forth (Ps. cxlvi. 4; Ecclus. xxxviii. 23; Wisd. xvi. 14); of the person who dies voluntarily, just as much that he surrenders his spirit (John xix. 30), or yields it up (Matt. xxvii. 50), as that he surrenders or yields up his soul (Acts xv. 26). This going out, this surrender of the spirit, attends the last drawing of breath (Eccles. viii. 8): the breath is the sensible manifestation of life, which, in the widest extent, has its causal subject in the spirit, nn or (vid. Sec. II.). Therefore, in the

New Testament, the designation of dying is as well eKirveeiv as iKtyv^eiv; in respect of which it is to be observed that the former is used thrice, for an obvious reason, of the death of Jesus: the latter is used thrice (in the Acts of the Apostles) of the punishment of death of sinners.

How could this interchange of nn, irvevfia, and Cm, ">frv^rj, be possible when death is spoken of, if the soul perished in death, and if it were not attested, even in the midst of death, that spirit and soul, as principium principians and principium principiatum of human individual life, are inseparably united in unity of essence and causal connection ?1 Plainly, therefore, according to Scripture, soul and spirit outlast the corruption of the body. And, nevertheless, it is true of the soul, in a certain sense, that it dies. It dies, so far as it was wont to centralize in itself the natural powers of the body, and to pervade the organs of the body with its own spirit-like life. It does not die, so far as it is of the spirit (Matt. x. 28); but it dies, so far

1 As once in earlier times was expressed by Heyder in his work, Eccletiastse de Immortalitate animi qualis fuerit sententia (18S8), that, according to Old Testament representation, the spirit returns to God; the soul, on the other hand, enters into Hades. So lately, Strbbel (Zur Eschatologie, Luth. Zeitschrift, 1855, iii.) has sought to prove that Scripture teaches that the departed soul enters into the kingdom of death (Hades); the separated spirit, on the other hand, into a condition of bliss, or perdition. Upon the anthropological fundamental text, Gen. ii. 7, he says (i.e. p. 494), "He who doubts of the possibility of the separation iu question, should consider that Gen. ii. 7 does not stand thus: God made the body out of the earth, and breathed into it soul and spirit, and thus man was made. Having first created body and soul (man) already, the Lord breathed into him the lifegiving Bpirit, by which his soul, as distinguished from that of the brute, became a living one. Spirit and soul are not contemporaneous in Adam, were not even given in one kind of manner: he received the latter, like all other psychic creatures, by his creation from the earth; the former subsequently out of God's mouth." But I find it now, as ever, just as much

as it has become of the body. Its life that has emanated from the spirit, endures; but its life that is immanent in the body, perishes with the body itself.1

The matter of fact is not, however, this, that the soul withdraws itself gradually from the body, in the degree in which the body dies. If the case were thus, we could only speak figuratively, only per zeugma, of a death of the soul. But the fact, as both Scripture and experience attest, is otherwise. The soul goes forth from the body (n&?>*, Gen. xxxv. 18) not without resistance: it seeks to maintain itself in the body as long as possible (1 Kings xvii. 17), until at length it succumbs powerlessly, when its connection with the body is forcibly severed (Job xxvii. 8, vi. 9; Isa. xxxviii. 12). It is the light of the bodily life; and when this light burns clearly no longer, it still flickers and glimmers on, until it finally goes out (Isa. xliii. 17). It would lead to no result if we were to consider at length the biblical figures of that power which comes more especially over the body and the soul in dying (vid. Div. IV. Sec. X.). It is indeed intelligible of itself, that man would experience no pain at all if he had not a soul in which the pain-exciting bodily affections are reflected. Therefore the soul, because it is the subject of the bodily life, of sensation, and all its shadowings, is moreover the peculiar subject of the suffering of death; and being this, it is impossible that the suffering of death should

contradictory of this scriptural statement as generally of the scriptural representation, that the human soul was already in existence before the divine inbreathing, and did not come into existence by means of this inbreathing. It is true, Strbbel reminds me (Luth. Zeitschr. 1857, p. 764) that I teach what is substantially the same, when I say that "in the body formed by God there were living powers, but they were not yet combined into unity of life." But in vain: in my view, the soul is not, even in the brute, to say nothing of man, a resultant of natural forces; for in all creatures, whether they be unendowed with soul, or endowed with soul, or deprived of soul, natural powers are actually operative.

1 Materialism only acknowledges the latter life. Of old it said, i x4yo< oviviip it xinyoii xxphix; iifiun (Wisd. ii. 2); in the present day, "thought is a phosphorescence of the brain;" in opposition to which, J. von Liebig has observed that the brain does not contain phosphorus, but only phosphoric acid, which does not shine at all; and that our bones, which contain four hundred times more phosphorus, ought in such a case to possess the wisest thoughts. More cautiously, and not assailable in this manner, runs the saying, "Without phosphorus, no thought."

result in death, unless the soul itself were stricken with death. The soul dies, and yet it subsists on. The body, moreover, continues to exist, but decomposing and decomposed in its fundamental elements. The soul continues to exist as the emanating doxa of the spirit. In what else, therefore, can its death consist, than in the fact of its being driven forcibly back to that from which it originated I The body continues to exist, even in corruption, i.e. while its elements, passing forth from the bond of the living organism, arrange themselves in new and more simple partially gaseous and putrid associations. But the soul—that monad which united the body into a compact life—cannot»corrupt as the body corrupts. Its life subsists in emanation; and its death, or, if it be preferred thus to speak, its corruption, consists in remanation. It can no longer hold its ground against the Turba, which has possessed itself of the body with its natural powers, and its own powers. Constrained to recoil to the lowest forms of its bodily self-manifestation, it must at length vacate the body, the place of its dominion. Dethroned and driven to flight, it returns to the spirit from which it went forth royally and masterfully to conquer and to rule.

But, inasmuch as the soul forsakes the body, the spirit also which pervaded the body by means of the soul is isolated therefrom. This isolation, if we regard death in itself as the punishment of sin, is absolutely no enfranchisement. For, to dwell in the body, to endow it with soul, and to live itself forth therein, is the innate nature and destination of the human spirit. It is therefore an unnatural condition into which the spirit is thrown back by means of death. The downfall of the soul is also the downfall of the spirit. Deprived of the body of which it ought to be the life culminating in self-consciousness, and in which it has the proximate material and the proximate means of this life, even the spirit becomes surrounded with darkness. For death is vvg (John ix. 4). But such a surrounding with night is possible. For the essence of death consists in the man's becoming again the same as he was. The existence of the spirit, however, which began with unconsciousness, may also be thrown back into unconsciousness. The spirit which proceeded from God, when He created man (Gen. ii. 7), when it was to become a human spirit, attained to selfconsciousness for the first time in its association with the body; and since humanity lias propagated itself, by the mode of begetting, forth from that creative beginning, that is also the mode of its development. Therefore, when the association of the spirit with the body ceases, that which is agreeable to nature, in that which is contrary to nature, is this: that the spirit is transplanted back into that restraint of its self-consciousness with which its existence began. That actually, through the darkening of death, the most intense effulgurations of its nature springing from God thrill throughout it,—as Cicero says, "appropinquante morte anima multo est divinior,"—does not prove the contrary. This is usually explained by the fact, that the spirit, in proportion as its union with the body becomes more loose, becomes the more capable of purely and freely attesting its own self ;1 but this view of death as a process of enfranchisement, according to natural law, is unscriptural. Only this is true, that with the final sinking into sleep are associated intense dreaming phenomena,2 in that the spirit does not suffer the violence wherein death consists without collecting together its whole power, in order to defend itself therefrom, and to lift itself above it. But it does suffer it, as every injury of the body that brings it near to death proves. This is the fact to which materialism points with contemptuous look of triumph. It may not be denied. Death as such, does not, it is true, force man back into nothing absolutely, but back within the limit of that nothingness which preceded his coming into being. That man continues self-conscious throughout death, and that it is possible for him to live although he dies,—this is the operation of redeeming grace, which, for all who lay hold on it, changes death into life, and permits us sometimes to behold in the countenance of dying persons the bright gleam of the heaven opened to them.8 This redeeming grace has, even for those who reject it, placed a limit to the power of death.

1 See, for example, Petocz, Ansicht der Welt (1838), p. 403.

2 Goschel, Der Mensch diesseits und jeyiseits, p. 43. In death, sleep is perfected, as xxrxQopi, sinking; but, moreover, the dream is perfected as «»«#oc«, raising.

3 An illustration, confirmed to me by an eye-witness, is the death of a lad of five years old, related in the Kkine)i Barmer Missionsfreund, 1858, No. 9. About half-past one o'clock he bowed his dear head: the eye appeared broken. Then at once he folded his hands, raised his head, opened his eyes wide, and looked in silent amazement for about two minutes