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Ritschl agrees with the modern view in dissolving the connection between human death and sin. Paul, indeed, he grants, affirms this connection; but the mere fact that this thought was formed by an apostle does not make it a rule for us (Recht. und Ver. iii. pp. 341, 342). An able article appeared in the Revue de Theologie (Montauban), July 1882, on “Physical Death and Sin,” by M. Charles Ducasse, which may be referred to as in agreement with, and confirmatory of, the positions taken up in the Lecture. The writer speaks of the problem created by the appearance of death in the world before sin. Before the appearance of man on the earth, death reigned; death was the law even of the organic world. He shows that from the first death entered into the Divine plan for the lower creation—is implied in what the Bible says of the reproduction of plants and animals, in the command given to Adam, etc. But he finds no contradiction in the thought that a new order of things should enter with man. Man forms part of nature. The roots of his organism penetrate into the past of other beings, and of the material world. But is man only a superior animal? Does not a new kingdom appear in him? The terminating point of the organic world, is he not equally the point of departure of the world of spirit, of reason, of morality? He is the bond of union between the world of nature and the Divine world. Why, then, should it not have been precisely his vocation to spiritualise matter, and lead it up to the conquest of new attributes? What hinders us from affirming that man was placed here to acquire corporeal immortality, and that, if he had not sinned, he would have been able to graft eternal life in his body on changeable and transient matter? This view, he thinks, agrees with both Scripture and science. Impartial science brings out the almost complete identity or our organism with that of the animals, but it establishes not less decisively the originality of our mental being, the superiority of our faculties of reason. The human kingdom constitutes in its eyes a kingdom by itself. There is, then, nothing improbable in the supposition that originally and in the plan of God the conditions of death for man were different from those for animals. The actual death of man would still in this view be the consequence of his sin; and this is in full accord with the Biblical teaching.

See also a suggestive treatment of this subject in Dr. Matheson’s Can the Old Faith Live with the New? pp. 206–218.

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