« AnteriorContinuar »
their dead”); 1 Tim. v. 6 (6 is dead while he liveth”); Rev. iii. 1 (“Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead”), and some others, are frequently cited. And the apparently metaphorical sense of the word in such passages gives a very respectable appearance of argument to show that the threatened penalty of sin is a death which does not kill.
But I think the argument is only apparent. True, as Adam did not die out on the day he sinned, there must be some figure or trope in the sentence; but it may still be a trope that leaves the literal sense intact. There is just such a figure, in frequent use in the Bible and in the common speech of men. Thus, if a person has taken active or subtle poison, by which sooner or later he must die, or has provoked a mortal enemy, or has committed a capital crime, for which he must be detected and sentenced, or is falling from a precipice and must be fatally hurt if not dashed in pieces, - we say
6 he is a dead man !” And the time of his dying, whether instant or after long years, makes no difference in the proper import and truth of the expression. The literal sense, of course, remains. This figure-of the anticipation of the future as if present—is well known among the rhetoricians, who have bestowed upon it the classic name of prolepsis. I said it occurs in the Bible. The Egyptians applied it to themselves, when the angel of death had smitten their first-born: “We be all dead men.” And so the Israelites, when the troop of Korah was suddenly destroyed : " Behold, we die; we perish; we all perish.” And God himself is represented as speaking in the same way to Abimelech : “Behold thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken."
And language very similar to that in Gen. ii. 17, occurs in two parallel passages. In Exod. x. 28, Pharaoh says to Moses: “Get thee from me; take heed to thyself, see my face no more ; for in that day thou seest my face, thou shalt die.” Would any one have questioned the veracity of the king, if his threatening had been incurred, and executed after several days, or even weeks or months ? Again in 1 Kings ii. 36, 37, Solomon says to Shimei : “It shall be that on the day that thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know
for certain that thou shalt surely die.” Shimei did go, in pursuit of two fugitive servants, (under the law of Congress, we suppose, as Solomon had no statute so convenient, and thus by a long prolepsis of three thousand years anticipating the future as already present,) all the way from Jerusalem to Gath, and then from Gath to Achish several days' journey. Did that make the threatening word of Solomon out of date? His last words tell his evident meaning: “Thy blood shall be upon thine own head.”
I take the meaning of Gen. ii. 17, to be, then, that life was forfeit by transgression. And this might be the life of the soul no less than of the body; nay, it must appear so if there were no clear intimation that the soul was spared. And the earliest versions and paraphrases, besides able commentators. support the view I have given. The Greek translation of Symmachus (A. D. 200) renders the phrase: “ Thou shalt be mortal.” The Syriac gives the same sense, which is accepted by Jerome, and by Grotius. The Arabic renders it: “Thou shalt deserve to die.” The Targum or paraphrase of Jonathan: “ Thou shalt be subject to death,” or guilty of death (reus mortis); in like manner Isidore of Pelusium, and an eminent Rabbi, Nachmanides. Some of the Hebrews understood it to mean immediate death, averted by repentance. (See Fagius, in Poole’s Synopsis.) Other writers say: “ The phrase, Thou shalt die, does not signify the fact of dying, but its necessity and desert.” (Cornelius à Lapide, et. al., in Poole's Synopsis.) Vatablus interprets: “ Thou shalt be subject to death, both of body and soul.” And Fagius adds that the Hebrews deny not this twofold death. Others: “Say rather that Adam then began to die; that is, by a lingering death of inward wasting and decay.” The above are all, save one, varieties of the same proleptic sense, and all are varieties of the literal sense. They differ in form only, while they agree in substance. The sense I have given is also approved by Anselm among the medieval Fathers, and by Dr. Knapp and Dr. J. Müller, among modern German divines.
Of the Jewish opinions I may give some glimpses elsewhere. But the following, from a Rabbi of the sixteenth century, Abarbanel, who knew how to talk of the immortality of the soul, is significant. He says: “ The wicked in their lifetime are called dead, and their soul is to be destroyed with the ignominy of the body, and will not have immortality or eternity.” (Summary of the Faith, c. 24.)
And in one or other of the following passages of the New Testament supposed to sustain the metaphorical sense of death, -Matt. viii. 22 ; Rom. vi. 11; viii. 11; Eph. ii. 1, 5; Col. ii. 13; 1 Tim. v. 6; Rev. iii. 1,-I find the sense I have given supported by Theodoret, Chrysostom, Augustine, Erasmus, Calvin, Beza, Turretin, Calovius, Pareus, Calixtus, Gomar, Grotius, Vitringa, Bengel, Michaelis, Bretschneider, Wahl, Rückert, Flatt, Fritzsche, Käuffer, Tholuck, Meyer, Hammond, Whitby, Clarke, Macknight. In this view, to be “dead in trespasses and sins” will mean, to be subject to death by reason of trespasses and sins. And this agrees naturally with the expressions in Ezek. xviii. 18: “He shall die in his iniquity.” And ver. 24: “In his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.” And John viii. 21, 24: “I said therefore unto
shall die in your sins : for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your
sins.” And 1 Cor. xv. 17: “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain ; ye are yet in your sins.” The last expression is used of the Corinthian Christians, who were supposed to be converted, regenerate, and no longer in the guilt or bondage of sin. Here the only possible sense is, subjection to the effects or penalty of sin, which is death. Here appears very finely the sense of the Latin word reus, and of the old English word guilty; i.e.. liable, but not of course ill deserving.
Some of the above writers are Restorationists. The most. indeed, are orthodox. But my Universalist friends will hardly quarrel with that fact, since the interpretation, so far as it affects the present question, is as unfriendly to the orthodox view as to the Universalist. It goes to refute the notion of a
metaphorical death that spares the immortal life of the scul. And hence the effort of a late writer against the view I hold to show that these passages do signify spiritual death.*
But I am willing, for argument's sake, to give up any support to my view that comes from my interpretation of all these passages. Allow, for a moment, that “death in trespasses and sins” denotes morally or spiritually dead. What is gained, either to the orthodox view or to the Universalist? If this death is like disease, it remains to be shown that it is not mortal that sin is not to the soul what fatal disease is to the body. The metaphorical sense may thus include, rather than exclude, the literal sense. So we say of the abandoned inebriate that he has “destroyed ” himself. Instead of foolishly arguing that since he is not dead yet, but staggers boisterously about, he will live for ever, and never drop into a drunkard's grave, we say he will certainly die just because he has destroyed himself. So a moral and spiritual death may foreshadow and atmosphere a real and final death of the soul. We shall meet this question again. But here it may be remarked that the expression “dead in trespasses and sins” supports the notion, if not of radical badness in human nature, at least of radical defect; and thus it supports some of the previous argument against the Universalist view. The word dead is a strong word even in a metaphor. The literal sense of Gen. ii. 17, is, I think, pretty fairly sustained. And though the view runs counter to the prevalent notions about the immortality of the soul, the passage applies to the soul as naturally as to the body. And this literal and extended application is proven, I
* Prof. Hovey (State of the Impenitent Dead, $ 5) takes no notice of the authorities given in my book for the proleptic sense of Gen. ii. 17. His reader might think that I stand alone in my exegesis. He argues against it on the ground that such a lively figure of speech would not suit the formal announcement of a law and its penalty. It might be so in modern legislation, made into a special branch of government and a special business of a deliberative assembly. But God's personal and earnest words to Adam required no formality. This argument and the other reasons given by Prof. H. are freely submitted to those who read both sides.
think, by a few passages that speak of life as a thing to be chosen and gained, and of death as to be shunned. I will name two or three passages. One is in
Ezek. xviii. 31, 32: “ Make you a new heart and a new spirit; for why will ye die, O house of Israel ? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God; wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.”
I think the whole chapter and the class of sins which it mentions, do not favor the reference of this passage to the national life of the Jews as a people. It is remarkable as asserting and insisting on the personal accountability of each man for himself.
“ The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” and not one for another's fault. Does the passage, then, refer to the prolonging of life in this world? It does, indeed, unless we suppose the Jews had such hopes of a future life in their own land, by a resurrection, that they might well understand these words as applying thus. I will not positively affirm that they looked so far into the future, in Ezekiel's time; though they did afterwards. If they did then, the passage decidedly favors the future life of the righteous alone. If they understood it only of long life on earth, it has only a typical value in my argument, though that is something.
Luke x. 25, 28 : “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? ... This do and thou shalt live."
I do not now affirm that eternal or aionian life implies immortal life. But the phrase “ thou shalt live” naturally suggests the literal sense. If the aionian life, or life of the gospel era, was implied, still Christ must mean more than simply that the lawyer would live on and into the gospel age, by keeping the commandments. If the aionian life was a spiritual and higher life, still Christ's reply no less favors the idea that such would be the only continuing and immortal life.
John xiv. 19 : “Because I live, ye shall live also.”
This expression can not easily be referred to a moral or spiritual life, as distinct from life in the literal sense. All the circumstances, as they appear in the previous context, seem to refer the expression to the future destination of the disciples.