2. Diversity of body and soul
Furthermore, that man consists of a soul and a body ought to be beyond controversy. Now I understand by the term “soul” an immortal yet created essence, which is his nobler part. Sometimes it is called “spirit.” For even when these terms are joined together, they differ from one another in meaning; yet when the word “spirit” is used by itself, it means the same thing as soul; as when Solomon, speaking of death, says that then “the spirit returns to God who gave it” [Eccl. 12:7]. And when Christ commended his spirit to the Father [Luke 23:46] and Stephen his to Christ [Acts 7:59] they mean only that when the soul is freed from the prison house of the body, God is its perpetual guardian. Some imagine the soul to be called “spirit” for the reason that it is breath, or a force divinely infused into bodies, but that it nevertheless is to be stupidly blundering in this opinion. It is of course true that while men are tied to earth more than they should be they grow dull; indeed, because they have been estranged from the Father of Lights [James 1:17], they become blinded by darkness, so that they do not think they will survive death; yet in the meantime, the light has not been so extinguished in the darkness that they remain untouched by a sense of their own immortality. Surely the conscience, which, discerning between good and evil, responds to God’s judgment, is an undoubted sign of the immortal spirit. For how could a motion without essence penetrate to God’s judgment seat, and inflict itself with dread at its own guilt? For the body is not affected by the fear of spiritual punishment, which falls upon the soul only; from this it follows that the soul is endowed with essence. Now the very knowledge of God sufficiently proves that souls, which transcend the world, are immortal, for no transient energy could penetrate to the fountain of life.
In short, the many pre-eminent gifts with which the human mind is endowed proclaim that something divine has been engraved upon it; all these are testimonies of an immortal essence. For the sense perception inhering in brute animals does not go beyond the body, or at least extends no farther than to material things presented to it. But the nimbleness of the human mind in searching out heaven and earth and the secrets of nature, and when all ages have been compassed by its understanding and memory, in arranging each thing in its proper order, and in inferring future events from past, clearly show that there lies hidden in man something separate from the body. With our intelligence we conceive the invisible God and the angels, something the body can by no means do. We grasp things that are right, just, and honorable, which are hidden to the bodily senses. Therefore the spirit must be the seat of this intelligence. Indeed, sleep itself, which benumbs man, seeming even to deprive him of live, is no obscure witness of immortality, since it suggests not only thoughts of things that have never happened, but also presentiments of the future. I have briefly touched upon these things which secular writers grandly extol and depict in more brilliant language; but among godly readers this simple reminder will be enough.
Now, unless the soul were something essential, separate from the body, Scripture would not teach that we dwell in houses of clay [Job 4:19] and at death leave the tabernacle of the flesh, putting off what is corruptible so that at the Last Day we may finally receive our reward, according as each of us has done in the body. For surely these passages and similar ones that occur repeatedly not only clearly distinguish the soul from the body, but by transferring to it the name “man” indicate it to be the principal part. Now when Paul urges believers to cleanse themselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit [II Cor. 7:1], he points out the two parts in which the filth of sin resides. Peter, also, calling Christ “shepherd and bishop of … souls” * would have spoken wrongly if there had not been souls on whose behalf he might fulfill this office. If souls did not have their own proper essence, there would be no point in Peter’s statement about the eternal “salvation of … souls” , or in his injunction to purify our souls and ascertain that “wicked lusts … war against the soul” . The same applies to the statement of the author of Hebrews, that the pastors " stand watch … to render account for our souls" [Heb. 13:17 p.]. The fact that Paul, upon his soul, calls God to witness [II Cor. 1:23, Vg.] points to the same conclusion, because it would not become guilty before God unless it were liable for punishment. This is expressed even more clearly in Christ’s words, when he bids us be afraid of him who, after he has killed the body, can send the soul into the Gehenna of fire [Matt. 10:28; Luke 12:5]. Now when the author of The Letter to the Hebrews distinguishes the fathers of our flesh from God, who is the one “Father of spirits” [Heb. 12:9], he could not assert more clearly the essence of souls. Besides, unless souls survive when freed from the prison houses of their bodies, it would be absurd for Christ to induce the soul of Lazarus as enjoying bliss in Abraham’s bosom, and again, the soul of the rich man sentenced to terrible torments [Luke 16:22-23]. Paul confirms this same thing, teaching us that we journey away from God so long as we dwell in the flesh, but that we enjoy his presence outside the flesh [II Cor. 5:6, 8]. Lest I go any farther in a topic of no great difficulty, I shall add only this word from Luke, that among the errors of the Sadducees it is mentioned that they did not believe in spirits and angels [Acts 23:8].*