Here is the third installment. Dan!
47. Yet these effects are not infinite. Well, says the reader, can sin have all those evil effects and not be infinite? Undoubtedly; as all those evil effects are experienced in this finite state. Thousands, who, I hope, are gone to greater degrees of rest than the most upright enjoy here, were once tormented with sin, were once under the dominion of the carnal mind. The effects of sin as sin are not endless, but limited to the state in which it is committed. This, perhaps, will be contrary to the opinion of many who read this treatise, as they are wont to suppose that there are three cardinal consequences produced by sin; viz. death temporal, death spiritual, and death eternal.
48. Sin not the cause of physical death. As to the first of these consequences I say: Men die natural deaths because they are naturally mortal; but they are not mortal because of sin, for man was mortal before he sinned; if he were not he never could have sinned. My opponent will say that the death of the body is the consequence of sin when one man murders another; to which I replay one man could not murder another if men were not mortal. Sin cannot be said to be the cause of natural death any more than of natural life. I will acknowledge that sin is often the means whereby natural life is ended, and my opposer must acknowledge that it is often the means of persons being introduce into natural life. Perhaps an hundred are introduced into existence by illicit connections where one is taken out by malice prepense. But the meaning of the objector is that man became mortal by sin; to which I reply if immortality be corruptible by sin, the Christian hope of immortality is a vain one. The death which Adam died is a consequence of sin, happened on the day of transgression, if we may believe the scriptural account about it; but Adam did not die a natural death, on that day, nor for some hundreds of years afterwards.
49. Illogical use of scripture. The way in which many have tried to reconcile the scriptures with their traditions in this matter appears strange to me; they quote 2 Peter iii. 8: â€œBut, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one dayâ€; and as Adam died short of a thousand years, he died in the day of the transgression. But in order for the text to read to their meaning, it ought to read thus: â€œOne day with the Lord is a thousand years, and a thousand years is one day;â€ as they understand the text the conjunction as has no possible meaning. In respect to spiritual death I believe it was all that was meant by the word, â€œIn the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.â€ But if eternal death were also intended there was no recovery for man. Why divines have carried this matter so erroneously beyond all scripture tenets I cannot imagine. But, it is said, spiritual or moral death would be eternal were it not for the dispensation of the gospel, by which death is swallowed up of life. So we might say anything else even of a momentary nature; it would be eternal if it were never to end. The days of a man’s life would be eternal if it were never to end. The spring would be eternal if it were not succeeded by the summer. A rose would be an eternal flower if it never withered. And youth would be eternal were it not for old age and death. But what do all such arguments avail? The grand, sublime, and glorious system of God carries everything away that has its birth from mortality and time.
50. Certain consequences of sin not evil. I have already hinted that sin might have consequences which were not evil, but not as sin. By the infinite wisdom and goodness of the Almighty, sin may be of advantage even to the sinner himself; but I say again not as sin. If the infinitely Wise and Good intended any one thing for good which we rightly call sin, that event, in respect to the divine intention, is not sin. I have introduced a circumstance in the fore part of this work, in which, what I am now endeavoring to illustrate, may clearly be seen. It is evident that that which Joseph’s brethren meant unto evil God meant unto good. Now the immediate consequences of their sin to them was guilt of the first magnitude. Who could calculate the one-half of what they endured in consequence of the wrong which they had done? But the consequences which God intended in the issue of the event were altogether beneficial; and those who committed the sin, by the mercy of God, were made the partakers of the benefits contained in the purpose of him who meant it for good.
51. Illustrated in the death of Christ. Again, it is evident from the scriptures that Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were gathered together against Jesus to do what the council and the hand of the Almighty had determined to be done. (See Acts iv. 27, 28.) Had Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel any better meaning in crucifying Christ than Joseph’s brethren had in selling Joseph to the Ishmaelites? All who read the question will answer, no. But the sacred text says they were gathered together to do whatsoever God’s hand and counsel had determined to be done. Now I ask, was not the determination of the murderers of Christ the same with the determination of Divine Wisdom? Says the reader, I cannot say it was not, and yet I dare not say it was. I will then answer, the Almighty intended it for a very different purpose from what they did who did it. They intended the destruction and overthrow the doctrine which Christ preached, and they hoped the things which he had spoken concerning them would fail of taking place. But the means which they used to oppose the cause of Christ were those with which God intended to promote it. They missed of their intentions, and the Lord carried the whole of his into effect. What Christian is there in the world who will say the consequences of the death of Christ are not good? or, that those who were his murderers, for whom he prayed on the cross, will not receive an advantage from his death which they meant for evil? Or who can limit the good contained in the designs of the Almighty? But will this rule do, says the reader, to apply to all sin? I answer without hesitancy that I fully believe it.