Quote of the day, from John Locke:
Death then entered, and showed his face, which before was shut out, and not known. So St. Paul, Rom. v. 19, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin,” i.e. a state of death and mortality : and, 1 Cor. xv. 22, “In Adam all die;” i.e. by reason of his transgression, all men are mortal, and come to die.
This is so clear in these cited places, and so much the current of the New Testament, that nobody can deny, but that the doctrine of the gospel is, that death came on all men by Adam’s sin; only they differ about the signification of the word death: for some will have it to be a state of guilt, wherein not only he, but all his posterity was so involved, that every one descended of him deserved endless torment, in hell-fire. I shall say nothing more here, how far, in the apprehensions of men, this consists with the justice and goodness of God, having mentioned it above: but it seems a strange way of understanding a law, which requires the plainest and directest words, that by death should be meant eternal life in misery. Could any one be supposed, by a law, that says, “For felony thou shalt die;” not that he should lose his life; but be kept alive in perpetual, exquisite torments? And would any one think himself fairly dealt with, that was so used?
John Locke, The Reasonableness of Christianity as Delivered in the Scriptures in the Works of John Locke (1824 edition, volume 6, p. 4.),
I part ways with Locke when he says that Adam’s sin did not involve the whole human race. Perhaps disturbing to some readers, I think that “Adam” in the story of Eden actually represented the whole human race but I won’t delve into that now (although for what it is worth, I think that this understanding removes the rationale for some of the crasser theories of the “transmission” of sin from Adam to us).
Locke’s comments on the actual punishment for sin, however, seem to me to be not only true, but to be obviously so. If only such common sense prevailed among my evangelical brothers and sisters!