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Men are to blame for dying under the penalty of a violated law in civil society, for it is written, “ Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”
Men are to blame for dying a spiritual death, for it is written, “ Your iniquities have separated between you and your God.” Isaiah lix. 2.
And all will be to blame that die an eternal death, for it is written,“ Why will ye die?” Ezekiel xviii. 31.
In each of these cases men are to blame, because they could have conducted in such a manner as to have prevented their death; but temporal death cannot be prevented, all must die, the good and the bad, the old and the young; all ranks and conditions of mankind must grapple with the fell monster; yet it is never accounted a sin or a shame to die a temporal death.
This view of the subject accords with the Scriptures ; for in the economy of redemption by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, there was nothing done that could in any way remove this death from the human family; there is no remedy for temporal death, “ There is no discharge in that war”_"we must all bow to the king of terrors."
All the sons and daughters of Adam must pass through its turbid waters, beyond the boundaries of time,“ to that bourne from whence no traveller returns." Temporal death in itself is not and could not be a terror, only on account of sin. “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.” 1 Corinthians, xv. 56.
Once more, there could have been no reference in this place to eternal death, because the death spoken of “reigned from Adam to Moses."
We come then to the full conclusion, that the death referred to in these verses can be no other than spiritual death or depravity.
Spiritual death is a separation, or an alienation of the affections from God and holiness; as death separates the soul from the body, so sin separates from the love of God and his law; as expressed by the prophet Isaiah, lix. 2. “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you." The affections are changed from the love of holiness to the love of sin and iniquity.
This death then is not the penalty of any law, but a natural or necessary consequence of sin ;-just the same as when a child puts his fingers in the blaze of a candle, the child is burned and experiences pain; but the pain is not the penalty, nor is it a punishment for his putiing his fingers in the fire.
The Bible characterizes man as being dead in trespasses and sins, which is precisely the same as depravity, and is frequently placed in direct contrast with spiritual life: Romans viii. 6, “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Ephesians ii. 5, “ Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.” 1 John, iii. 14, “We know that we have passed from death unto life.”
Man by dying a spiritual death, does not destroy the mental faculties, or the moral powers that he possesses by creation as a free moral agent; these never die, no kind of death has power to destroy them, they must remain as long as he exists, and increases in their exercise to all eternity; for if these powers and faculties should cease, man would cease to be an accountable being. These constitute man a free moral agent, and if death of any kind could weaken or destroy them, it would in the same degree lessen his accountability.
Those that are dead in sin, have their mental and moral faculties as vigorous as those that are alive to holiness; Luke xvi. 8, “ For the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” The difference consists simply in this,—one exercises his faculties to hate holiness, and love iniquity; the other to love holiness and hate iniquity; it requires the same powers and faculties in either ; it is only the exercise of these faculties toward different objects, or they are exercised differently towards the same object, the one loves that which is evil, and hates that which is good; the other loves that which is good, and hates that which is evil.
This death is voluntary; no man can die this death without his own consent; it is by his own choice that he hates good objects, and loves bad ones, while he has power to love the good and hate the bad. Therefore man alone is to blame for dying this death, and man alone must suffer for the sins of which this death is the consequence.
We shall now give the meaning of a few other terms used in these verses, and the whole subject will be rendered conspi
Verse 13, imputed,] this term is equivalent to the word accounted or reckoned.
Verses 15, 17, 20 and 21, grace,] favour shown to the ill-deserving.
Verses 15, 16 and 18, the free gift,] verse 15, the gift by grace,] verse 16, the gift,] verse 17, the gift of righteousness.] “ The favour, benefit, or good gratuitously bestowed on us, especially the gift of pardon, which may include all other good, because all other favours flow to the pardoned sinner ; there is then nothing against him, he is constituted righteous.
Verses 16 and 18, judgment.] The determination of God to subject the race of man to a state of probation, the state of man in this life. See Romans, viii. 20.
Verses 16 and 18, to condemnation.] Under this state of trial all became sinners, and as such are under condemnation.
Verses 18 and 21, righteousness.] The work of Christ, all that he has done for the salvation of man, which is included under the idea of his incarnation and sacrifice of himself to God.
Verse 19, obedience.] The entire fulfilment by Christ. All the stipulations of the mediatorial covenant.
Verses 16 and 18, justification.] God's act of pardoning the sinner, by which he becomes just; which act cancels all the demands of the law that were against him.
We are now prepared to give the following paraphrase on Romans, 5th chapter, from the 12th to the 21st verse.
12. Furthermore, as one man (Adam] by sinning introduced sin into the world, and thereby died a spiritual death, (or became depraved] in the same manner spiritual death (or depravity] came upon all men, because all have sinned.
13. [For until the giving of the law by Moses, sin was in the world, but sin is not reckoned where there is no law.
14. Nevertheless, depravity reigned over mankind from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned by violating a positive precept as Adam did; between his work and the work of Christ we institute a contrast.
15. But not as the offence, so is the benefit of free pardon; for if the offence of one man was the occasion of the appointment of that dispensation under which the many became depraved, much more, the sacrifice of one man, Jesus Christ, was the occasion of the appointment of that dispensation, under which, the favour of God, and the benefit of free pardon flowing with that favour, hath abounded to the many.
16. And not as it was by one man's sin, so is the benefit of free pardon; for the appointment under which all have come under condemnation, was occasioned by one man's one offence; but the benefit is the pardon of many offences unto justification.
17. For if one man's one offence was the occasion of the reign of spiritual death, much more, they which receive abundant favour, and the free pardon of sin, which constitutes them righteous, shall reign in spiritual life, through the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ.]
18. Therefore, as one man's one offence, was the occasion of the dispensation, under which all men have become depraved, and are under condemnation; even so, the sacrifice of one, was the occasion of the dispensation, under which all men may receive pardon, justification, and spiritual life.
19. For as the disobedience of one man was the occasion of the many becoming sinners; so the obedience of one was the occasion of the many becoming righteous.
20. Moreover, the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, favour did much more abound.
21. That as sin hath reigned unto spiritual death, even so might favour reign unto eternal life, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Lord.
It appears very plain, in all this fifth chapter to the Romans, there is not a word or intimation that the sin of Adam is imputed, or set over to the account of his posterity; nor is there the least evidence that the guilt of Adam's transgression in any way affected the moral condition of the race; it was indeed the occasion, but not in any sense the cause of their depravity: in a similar manner Jesus Christ was the occasion, but not in the least the cause of the sin of Judas.
Again, the first epistle to the Corinthians, the xvth chapter, the 21st and 22d, and 45th and 49th verses, are quoted in support of the doctrine of imputed depravity.
21. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
45. And so it is written, the first man Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
49. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
It is evident that the theme of the Apostle in all this xvth chapter to the Corinthians, is the temporal death of the body; and the resurrection of the same body to life and immortality; and he exhibits in the 21st verse how temporal death, and the resurrection from the dead, originated.
We would then give the following paraphrase, as expressive of the true meaning.
For since the sin of one man (Adam) was the occasion of the appointment of temporal death, the sacrifice of one man [Jesus Christ] was the occasion of the appointment of the resurrection of the dead. For the word by, in both members of this verse, is not expressive of the cause, but of the channels through which death and the resurrection flow to the human family.
Temporal death and the resurrection from the dead, are both appointed, and do not depend on contingencies like depravity, or salvation from depravity, which are the result of moral conduct, by disobedience, or by repentance, faith, and obedience; but the appointments come alike to all, all must die, all must