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3fim from eternal death, no revelation of any law would be of use. But now we find all the revelation of God, calculated to exhibit divine mercy.
Hence all divine laws given to man since the apos* tasy, are very different from the law given to Adam in Paradise. The Paradise law went not upon the supposition of redemption by the Seed of the woman; it, therefore, in order to happiness, required sinless obedience. Adam was threatened with death for the first transgression, without any intimation of pardon on any terms or condition whatever It was not said to Adam, In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die, except thou repent. But if he eat, he must die. and. without any mercy fro ni-that law.
From this, some eminent divines have inferred that no divine law admits of mercy. And in confirmation of their sentiment, they say,'"The soul that sinneth, it shall die;" and "The wages of sin is death.'' These texts are adduced as evidence to prove that the death threatened to Adam for his first offence, implies not only spiritual, but eternal death. One of those divines observes, The soul that sinneth it shall die. And he has marked the word die, with an emphasis. But it appears to me that by this means, he has destroyed the antithesis, in the connexion in which the word is used. This, I think, will appear to any one who will carefully examine the eighteenth chapter of Ezekiel. "The word ot the Lord." says the prophet, "came unto me again, saying. What mean ye. that ye'use this proverb? saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge. As I live, saith the Lord, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. Behold all souis are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine, The soul that sinneth, It shall die." Is it not manifest that the antithesis falls on the word, . it? This, I think, is evident from what follows in the same chapter—"But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right—he is just, he shall surely jive, saith the Lord God. If he beget a son that is a
robber, a shedder of blood—hath oppressed the poer' —hath given forth upon usu.y, and hath taken increase; shall he then live? he shall not live—he shall surely die: his blood shall be upon him. Now, lo, if he beget a son that seeth all his father's sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like— that hath not withheld the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment— hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live. Hence, the soul that sinneth,—it shall die; not the sotil that repenteth and doeth that which is lawful and right, no, he shall surely live, he shall not die, saith ttie Lord God. Hence, I think, that the text In Ezekiel, The soul that sinneth, it shall die. ought not to be read, it shall DIE, marking die, with an emphasis, as- if it were as impossible for a sinner to escape eternal death, as it was for Adam to escape the death with which he was threatened, on his eating, the fruit of the forbidden tree: Sinners may escape eternal death; but the death which Adam died on account of his first offence, no flesh can avoid.* The text in Ezekiel, The soul that sinneth, it shall die, is, by no means parallel with that in Genesis, "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shall surely die." The truth of this assertion rests on the following argument. Adam was threatened with death without a pardon on any condition whatever; should he be ever so obedient for the future, that would be no defence against the threatening, for if he eat, he must unavoidably die. But in the case spoken of by the prophet, he who should repent of former sins, and for the future, do that which is lawful and right, he should not die "He is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God."
Adam was threatened with death; and, it is a general sentiment that his posterity were involved in it. And some suppose that the death, with which Adam was threatened, included eternal death. Are not all mankind then threatened unconditionally with death? for the law to Adam admitted of no condition: for, God said, In the .day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Some, no doubt, will reply; all mankind must, indeed, die an eternal death, unless an able Substitute appear and suffer for them, in their room and stead, all that evil whieh they deserve to suffer. That this was the sentiment of Milton, is evident
from the following lines.
He with his whole posterity must die:
The poet will not allow that justice died; neither will he allow that the whole posterity of Adam will suffer an eternal death. It must therefore be his sentiment, that Christ has paid the rigid satisfaction, death for death. A full reply to this sentiment is contained in the series of Sermons, on 1 Pet. i, 18,19.
* "Abstractly considered this is true; but it is not expressive ot what was the revealed law of innocence. The law made no such condition, or provision; nor was it indifferent to the lawgiver who should suffer, the sinner, or anothc ou his behalf. The language of the law to the transgressor was not thou shalt die, ar tome one on thy behalf; but simply thou shall die.- and had it literally taken ?!' coarse, every child of man mast hive perished,"
Sr. Andrew Fuller.
THE SENSE OF THE TEXT CONTINUED
ji. Genesis ii, 17,
'..;.. In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shaft surely Die.
If is thought by some that this threatening implied not only spiritual, but eternal, death. For, say they* "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." They mark the word die with an emphasis, as if all sin must be punished with eternal death, and to establish the sentiment, they refer to Romans vi, 23, "The wages of sin is death." All have sinned. Must all, then, die an eternal death? Is universal damnation the language of the Bible? It is not; it is far otherwise.
On that text in Ezekiel, The soul that sinneth it shall die, we have remarked, already. And what does the apostle mean by this proposition? "The wages of sin is death." He cannot mean that all mankind are unconditionally threatened with eternal death. It is true, that "The wages of sin is death," and the meaning of the proposition is, the man who lives and dies in sin, must be cast into a lake of fire, "which is the second death." But was this death threatened to Adam in the garden? Did God threaten to cast Adam into a lake of fire, on the very day in which he should eat of the forbidden tree?* He did not; this is evident, because the threatening was not executed. But some divines say, that God was not under obligation to exi ecute the sentence on the day in which he did eat. But even if this were proved, that God might not execute the sentence immediately, yet it does not remove the difficulty. For the fact is, it was never executed, perhaps, not upon Adam. And, certainly, not upon, his whole posterity. And if Adam, or any of his posterity, should be cast into a lake of eternal fire, it will not be, because he or they, had eaten of the forbidden tree. None of mankind will ever be cast into a lake of eternal fire, except those who remain impenitent until death. After Adam had eaten of the forbidden tree, there was no possible way for him, or, for any of his posterity to escape the death with which he was threatened. No one of mankind ever did, ever will, Op ever can, escape that death. This is a death that all must die. For, "if Christ died for all, then were all dead." But millions have, and millions will, escape the second death. What we have to do that we may escape this death we learn from these words of our Saviour; 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man keep my saying he shall never see death." Hence there is a way to escape the second death, eternal death; but the death with which Adam was threatened, all must die. We did not sin after the similitude of Adam's transgression, yet being the children of a dead man, we are all dead; for how can life arise from death? It is impossible. "For who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one." Nevertheless, Abel was a righteous man. He did not, however, become righteous by keeping the law given to Adam. Abel, being a sinner, could not become righteous by keeping a law which required sinless obedience, and threatened death for one offence. It could not be said with respect to that law; '-He that doeth righteousness is righteous." But with respect to the law by which sinners are governed, it may be said, '-He that doeth righteousness is righteous:" The apostle, when he made this declaration, did not mean, that a man must hye without ever committing one sin in order to be
* Should it be said, that "God had a reserve, in his own mind," and, therefore, though he had threatened Adam with eternal death, for the first act of disobedience,yet the threatening was never executed: I would replv; this is a principle from which Universalists infer the salvation of all men; for ift'od may threaten death, in one case and not execute the sentence, he may in every case; and, therefore, the threatening of eternal death may not exclude any man from eternal life. The conclusion, then, is, that we must all believe the doctrine of universal salvation, or believe, that the death with which Adam was threatened, was executed exactly according to the threatening.