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    CHAPTER II. SIN AND ITS PENALTY

    Our present relation to the law is easily ascertained. Though we rest under a perpetual and everlasting obligation to obey the law of the Most High, we have not fulfilled our obligation. On this point the Scriptures are very explicit. Romans 3:9-23 contains sufficient evidence. Jews and Gentiles are on a level—all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. The law stops every mouth, and proves all guilty, and subject to the judgment of God.AERS 88.1

    What is the penalty for sin? We have before said that Government is a system of laws maintained. This is a simple definition that all can understand; and that it is truthful is evident from this, that a Government cannot exist without law, and if the law is not maintained the result is anarchy and the subversion of Government. It is for this reason that a law without a penalty is a nullity. All the force and sanction of law is its penalty, and, whenever the law is violated, justice requires the infliction of the penalty. Therefore, if we understand the penalty of the law—the nature of the infliction to be visited upon the sinner or violator of God’s law—we shall of course understand what justice demands for our redemption. It has been fully considered that justice can only be satisfied by the infliction of the penalty, either upon the offender or upon a voluntary substitute.AERS 88.2

    The idea so often advanced, that Christ did not suffer the same penalty to which the sinner was subject, cannot be reconciled either with justice or with the Scriptures. If the law itself be strictly just, the penalty of the law, neither more nor less, will answer the demands of justice. Many systems of theology have had this error incorporated into them to avoid other apparent difficulties; sometimes because the distinction between the penalty and mere consequence is overlooked, and sometimes because errors in the systems have made it necessary to resort to this, or some other expedient, as a means of relief. That a conclusion is demanded and insisted upon which is so greatly at variance with reason, with justice, and with the Scriptures, is strong evidence of defects in the systems which require it.AERS 89.1

    Dr. Barnes was an able writer, whose memory we respect. Were it not that his theology made the conclusion necessary, we should be much surprised to read the following paragraph from him:—AERS 89.2

    “It will be impossible for a substitute to endure the same sufferings which the sinner himself will endure in the future world for his sin. There are sufferings caused by sin which belong only to the consciousness of guilt, and these sufferings cannot be transferred to another. The sin itself cannot be transferred; and, as it is impossible to detach the suffering from the consciousness of guilt, it follows that a substitute cannot endure the same kind of sufferings which the sinner would himself endure. Remorse of conscience, for example— one of the keenest sources of suffering to the guilty, and which will be a most fearful part of the penalty of the law in the future world—cannot be transferred.”—Atonement, p. 228.AERS 89.3

    And again he said:—AERS 90.1

    “Remorse of conscience is manifestly a part of the penalty of the law; that is, it is a portion of what the law inflicts as expressing the sense which the lawgiver entertains of the value of the law and of the evil of its violation.”—Id., p. 235.AERS 90.2

    We are fully convinced of the correctness of the positions taken in remarks on the reasonableness of the Atonement, though the above paragraphs from Dr. Barnes squarely conflicts with them. We unhesitatingly aver that remorse of conscience is no part of the penalty of the law. That view, which is indeed the corner-stone of Universalism, is as contrary to reason as to Scripture, and grows out of the error before noticed, of making no distinction between the penalty of the law and mere consequences. The penalty is a judicial infliction, prescribed by the statute, administered by authority, and its infliction must be subsequent to the Judgment. Consequences are various according to circumstances, and not according to desert, and may flow immediately out of the action without any relation to the penalty or to the Judgment. The wicked all suffer more or less remorse in this present state, but the Bible informs us that they are reserved “unto the day of Judgment to be punished.” 2 Peter 2:9.AERS 90.3

    There are two kinds of sorrow for sin: a “godly sorrow,” and a “sorrow of the world.” 2 Corinthians 7:10. The first is that of the penitent, sorrowing that he has violated a holy law and grieved a holy God. The other is that of the worldling, sorry that he is detected in crime, or in danger of punishment. No one doubts that the sorrow of the God-fearing penitent is deepest; that his remorse is the keenest. Yet the nearer he is to God, the finer his sensibilities, and the deeper his hatred of sin, the stronger will be his remorse for his sin. Therefore, if this be part of the penalty of the law, it is evident that this part is inflicted more severely on the penitent than on the impenitent and incorrigible.AERS 90.4

    Again, Paul speaks of those whose conscience is seared with a hot iron. 1 Timothy 4:2. That is, they run to such lengths in sin that their sensibilities are blunted, and they feel little or no remorse of conscience. Now, both reason and revelation teach us that the punishment must be proportioned to the guilt; but if remorse of conscience be a penalty, it is executed by inverse proportion; that is, the punishment decreases according to the increase of crime.AERS 91.1

    But we are led to inquire, Where did Dr. Barnes (or any other person) learn that remorse of conscience is a part of the penalty of the law? Does the Bible say so? It does not; there is nothing in the Bible which gives the least sanction to such an idea. Why, then, do men say so? Where did they get authority for such a declaration? As it is the duty and sole prerogative of the governor to reveal his law, so he alone can define the penalty.AERS 91.2

    This He has done in his word: “The wages of sin is death.” Any effort to evade this plain truth, or to make it anything but a plain truth, involves difficulties and contradictions. For it will not obviate the difficulty to spiritualize the term death, so as to make it embrace remorse of conscience; for if that be included in death, whatever will remove the remorse will remove so much of the penalty, or of death, and bring a proportionate degree of life. But sin does this, as the apostle shows; therefore, according to that theory, sin removes a portion of its own penalty, which is absurd.AERS 92.1

    Dr. Barnes asserts that Christ did not suffer the penalty of the law, but something substituted for the penalty. There is no cause for such a declaration, except it be found, as before said, in the necessities of a theory.AERS 92.2

    In the teachings of the Bible there is no uncertainty in this matter. They plainly inform us that “the wages of sin is death;” and that “Christ died for our sins.” Romans 6:23; 1 Corinthians 15:3. As sin is the transgression of the law, death, the wages of sin, is its penalty; and as Christ died for our sin, the penalty was laid upon him for our sake. Now that “Christ died” is not only plainly declared in the Scriptures, but it is a fundamental truth in the gospel system; for it is easy to show that, if Christ did not die, there can be no atonement and no redemption. It appears evident, then, that those who assert that Christ did not suffer the penalty of the law, do not so assert because the fact is not revealed in the Bible, but, as before intimated, because of certain difficulties supposed to lie in the way of that fact. These difficulties are concerning the nature of the penalty, death.AERS 92.3

    It is assumed that death, the penalty of transgression, is three-fold in its nature, consisting of temporal, spiritual, and eternal death. If this assumption were true, we should at once give up the Atonement as a thing impossible. Yet it has been advanced by men of eminence, and incorporated into works recognized as standard. Let us examine it.AERS 93.1

    1. The death of man is temporal only by reason of a resurrection. But the resurrection belongs to the work of Christ, and as his work was not necessary or a subject of promise till after the transgression, it cannot have any place in the announcement of the penalty. When death was threatened to Adam, it was not said that he should die temporally, spiritually, and eternally; nor that he should die a first or second death; nor the death that never dies; but that he should surely die. It was death—simply death. Had not a promise been given afterward, of “the seed” to bruise the serpent’s head, it would necessarily have been eternal death. But Christ, introducing a resurrection for Adam and his race, causes it to be temporal. But since this time, this death, temporal, has not been the penalty for personal transgression. This is evident for two reasons: (1) Infants die who never have transgressed; and (2) In the Judgment we stand to answer for our deeds, and the second death is inflicted for personal sin. But on those who are holy, “the second death hath no power;” the penalty does not reach them. So it appears the death we now die is occasioned by Adam’s transgression, and is rendered temporal by the second Adam, and comes indiscriminately upon all classes and ages, thus precluding the idea that it is now a penalty, except as connected with that first transgression, in which we are involved only by representation.AERS 93.2

    2. Spiritual death cannot be a penalty at all. A penalty is an infliction to meet the ends of justice. But spiritual death is a state of sin, or absence of holiness; and to say that God inflicts unholiness upon man is not only absurd, but monstrous. That is confounding the crime with it punishment. God does not make man wicked or sinful as an infliction; but man makes himself wicked by his own actions, and God punishes him with death for his wickedness.AERS 94.1

    Again, there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust; for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. Now if the penalty upon Adam included spiritual death, the resurrection through the second Adam would be to spiritual life, or holiness; and if all were restored to spiritual life through Christ, there would be none to fall under the second death, for it falls not on the “blessed and holy.”AERS 94.2

    The text above quoted, 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,” has been “spiritualized” so much that it has been fairly conceded to the Universalists by many who call themselves orthodox.AERS 94.3

    But it does not at all favor Universalism unless it is perverted, and made to conflict with other scriptures. Jesus says, all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man, and come forth; they that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation. The text in question (1 Corinthians 15:22) says no more than this, that all that have died shall have a resurrection; but if some are unjust, and have a resurrection to damnation, that affords no help to Universalism. But if death here means spiritual death (as we say it does not), then the Universalists must have the truth; for to be made alive from spiritual death is to be made spiritually alive, which is none other than a state of holiness. This conflicts with the words of Christ just quoted, of a resurrection to damnation. Death is simply the absence of life; all die and go into the grave, and all are raised again from the grave, without respect to their character or condition. There will be a resurrection of the just and of the unjust; one class to eternal life, the other to the second death. The death of Adam became temporal by reason of a resurrection, so we may say that the infliction for personal sins, the second death, is eternal, because no resurrection will succeed it. Thus, it appears plain that from the beginning death was the penalty of the law of God, circumstances determining the duration of it. This view, which is in strict harmony with the Bible, really removes all difficulty in regard to Christ having suffered the penalty due to sin.AERS 95.1

    But still another difficulty is presented to us by giving an extraordinary definition to death; it is said to mean eternal misery. But on examination of this, the difficulty will be entirely on the side of those who present it. If, however, the definition is correct, there is an insurmountable difficulty, involving the whole doctrine of the atonement, and making it utterly impossible for God to be just, and also the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.AERS 96.1

    First, then, if the signification of death is “eternal misery,” Christ never died at all; and then all the scriptures that say he died are untrue; and thus the atonement would be proved impossible, and further consideration of it would be useless. But admitting the Scripture testimony, that the wages of sin is death, and that Christ died for sin, and we have the scriptural view of the term death, utterly forbidding such an unnatural and forced construction of a plain declaration.AERS 96.2

    Secondly. If the correct definition of death is eternal misery, the relative terms, first and second, as applied to death before and after the resurrection, are used absurdly. For how can there be a first and second eternal misery? Sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and death passed upon all men. But the very fact that man may be resurrected, released from death, as the Scriptures teach, clearly proves that the Scripture use of the term death is entirely different from the “theological use,” as given above.AERS 96.3

    And, thirdly, If death means eternal misery, then that is the penalty of the law; but Christ did not suffer it, and the redeemed will not suffer it, so it follows that justice is never vindicated by the infliction of the penalty, either upon them or a substitute; and thus justice is suspended, not satisfied; and Christ’s death (if it could with any reason be called so) is not truly vicarious. As before considered, justice demands the infliction of the penalty of a just law; and as God is unchangeable and infinitely just, the penalty will surely be inflicted upon the transgressor or his substitute. But the above view makes it impossible. According to that, mercy does not harmonize with justice, but supersedes it, and God’s justice is not manifest in justifying the believer. The sum of the matter is this: that if the penalty be eternal misery, then all that have sinned must suffer it, and be eternally miserable, or else the demands of the law are never honored. But the first would result in universal damnation, and the other would degrade the Government of God, and contradict both reason and the Scriptures.AERS 96.4

    This definition of death has been adopted of necessity to conform to the popular idea of the inherent immortality of man; yet it involves a contradiction in those who hold it. For it is claimed that the wicked are immortal and cannot cease to exist, and therefore the death threatened in the Scriptures is something besides cessation of existence, namely, misery. But immortality signifies exemption from death; and if the Scriptural meaning of death is misery, and the wicked are immortal, or exempt from death, they are, of course, exempt from misery! The advocates of this theory do not mean to be Universalists, but their position necessarily leads to that result.AERS 97.1

    It was well said by that great Christian philosopher, John Locke, that “it seems a strange way of understanding law, which requires the plainest and most direct terms, that by death should be meant eternal life in misery.” Life and death are opposites; the first is promised to the justified, the second is threatened and inflicted upon the unjust. But life and misery are not opposites; misery is a condition of life. In everything but “theology” such a perversion of language would not be tolerated, as to make eternal misery and death, or even misery and death, synonymous. Were I to report that a man was dead because I knew him to be suffering in much misery, it would be looked upon as trifling—solemn mockery. With a cessation of life every condition of life must cease.AERS 98.1

    Before leaving the subject of the penalty for transgression we will compare with the announcement of the penalty to Adam, the explanation of it by the Lawgiver himself. When man was created and placed on probation, the Lord said to him that if he disobeyed the divine requirement or prohibition he should “surely die.” To this all future declarations conformed. Indeed, if there is unity of design in the Scriptures they all must conform to this. Accordingly they say, as already quoted: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” “The wages of sin is death.” Said the Lord to Israel: “I have set before you life and death.” The penalty for violation of the divine law is nothing less than “the death penalty.” God is the author of life, and man is his creature. “All souls are mine,” said the Creator; “as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine; the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:4. The right both to order and to dispose of life rests with him alone.AERS 98.2

    There is no surer method of settling the meaning of a penalty than to notice how the proper authority pronounces or executes the sentence upon a transgressor. Adam sinned; he was arraigned, and confessed his guilt. He could not hide it from his Maker. The Judge in this case was the author and giver of the law; it was he who first announced the penalty of death. The sentence or the punishment must be conformable to the penalty. Therefore the sentence will be an authoritative comment on, or explanation of, the penalty. The sentence was pronounced in these words: “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it, cursed is the ground for they sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shall thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” According to this sentence, when the Lord told the man he should surely die, he meant that he should be returned to his original element, the dust of the ground, out of which he was taken when he was made a man, a living soul. That is what we call literal, personal, or physical death. Nothing else could be implied, for the record speaks of nothing else as pertaining either to the penalty or the sentence. And who shall amend the word of the Lord, or question his decision, in a matter of his own law and of the life and death of his creatures?AERS 99.1

    On the subject of punishment we will examine but one text, as our limits do not admit of any extended argument on the point. This text is Matthew 25:46; and we notice this because it is supposed to conflict in direct terms with the view of the penalty given above. And this being one of the strongest, if not the very strongest, on which an objection is based, an exposition of this will show that the objection itself has no force.AERS 100.1

    The text reads: “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal.” The Revised Version says eternal punishment and eternal life. This is strictly according to the original, and no one will object to the rendering.AERS 100.2

    The whole objection is based upon a misapprehension of the term punishment. Many seem to think they have fully sustained the objection when once they have proved that the punishment of the wicked is as eternal as the life of the righteous. Thus Moses Stuart said: “If the Scriptures have not asserted the endless punishment of the wicked, neither have they asserted the endless happiness of the righteous, nor the endless glory and existence of the Godhead.”AERS 100.3

    We admit this, and then our argument has lost nothing, and the objection has gained nothing. The question is not one of the duration of punishment, but of the nature of it. Of this we say:—AERS 101.1

    1. The word punishment is not a specific term. Men may be punished by fine, by imprisonment, or by death. The term includes all these, and it may refer to many other things, but it specifies neither of them.AERS 101.2

    2. This being so, there is only an implied, not a direct, antithesis between the words punishment and life. When we say a man will be punished, we do not thereby declare what shall be done with or to him. But if we say of two men that one shall be punished and the other shall be suffered to live, the unavoidable conclusion would be that the first would be punished with death, or not suffered to live.AERS 101.3

    3. If death be punishment, then eternal death, from which there will be no resurrection, is eternal punishment. And this is the destiny of the wicked. “The wages of sin is death.” As there will be a resurrection of the unjust, and their punishment is after that, they will suffer a second death, after which there is no more resurrection. The second death is therefore an eternal death.AERS 101.4

    4. Eternal life and eternal death are complete contrasts. There would be no strong contrast between eternal death and a brief life, or between eternal life and a brief state of death. And there would be no contrast at all between eternal life and eternal imprisonment. The penalty or punishment being death, there is this complete contrast between eternal life and the eternal punishment. But it would not exist if the punishment were anything but death.AERS 101.5

    5. Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 1:9, has given a decisive comment on this text. He uses both the terms used by the Saviour, with another term which is specific and therefore explanatory. Of the dis-obedient he says: “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” The Revised Version reads thus: “Who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” Death and destruction are equivalents. Many times the Scriptures say of the wicked that they shall be destroyed. That destruction will be fore ever. They shall die, and never again awake. What a doom! And it may be averted by obedience to God through faith in his Son. But he who dies that death receives the just due of his own works. “The wages of sin is death.” It is not the Lord’s pleasure that any should be destroyed. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”AERS 102.1

    The force of the apostle’s words in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 is sometimes lost by assuming that it means banished from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. But that could not be, for in the whole universe no one can get beyond his presence and power. See Psalm 129:7-12. The destruction of the wicked is by fire; and in Revelation 20:9, we learn that when the hosts of Satan compass the camp of the saints and the beloved city, “fire came down from God out of Heaven and devoured them.” And thus will the word be literally fulfilled; from the presence of the Lord, from the glory of his power, even from Heaven shall the fire of destruction fall upon the ungodly. “This is the second death.” It is their dying a second time. Truly an “everlasting punishment.”AERS 102.2

    Much as we deplore the utter loss of so many of our race, as lovers of order and Government we acquiesce in the decisions of infinite justice. And we rejoice that justice has decreed the utter destruction of the incorrigibly rebellious, rather than that the universe of God should be the scene of eternal blasphemies and misery. Let creation be cleansed from sin, and all be love and peace.AERS 103.1

    We repeat a declaration before made, that circumstances make the death of the sinner an eternal death. The term die, or the penalty death, as stated to Adam, does not necessarily carry with it any idea of time or duration. To die is to lose life; death is the absence of life. We know of no one thing which more clearly shows the nature of the penalty of the law than the revealed truth that “Christ died for our sins.”AERS 103.2

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