The Thinking 

The Dead Soul

January 4, 2018


Loneliness, Andrew Wyeth

CARDINAL Henry Manning on “The Sin Unto Death” (1874):

ALL the actions of a man in a state of mortal sin are dead; they have no merit or power to prevail before God for his salvation. So long as he is separated from God, nothing he does has saving power. Just as a tree that has life bears living fruit, and a tree that is dead has nothing but fruit that is withered and dead likewise, so a soul that is planted in God, as we all are by baptism, strikes its root as the tree by the rivers of water, and increases continually in faith, hope, and charity, and in the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, which expand themselves like the leaves upon the branch, and the twelve fruits of the Holy Ghost unfold themselves and ripen. On the other hand, a soul that is separated from God is like the tree that is cut asunder at the root, and as the severed tree withers from the topmost spray and every fruit upon it dies, so the soul in the state of mortal sin, of whatsoever kind, so long as it remains in that state, is separated from God, and can bear no fruit unto salvation. The Apostle has declared this, in the most express words: ‘Though I speak with the tongue of men and of angels, and have not charity, I become as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal; and if I have all prophecy and all knowledge, and can understand all mysteries, and though I have faith and could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing; and though I give my goods to feed the poor and my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing (1 Cor. xiii. 1-3.):’ that is to say, a soul separated from God, not having the love of God; it matters not what that soul may know, it may be able to prophesy, to expound mysteries, to work miracles: it may give all it possesses to the poor in alms, it may be martyred, as men may think, and yet if it have not the love of God it profits nothing to salvation. There will be at the last day those who will come to our Divine Lord and say, ‘Lord! Lord! we prophesied in Thy name, we cast out devils and did many mighty works in Thy name; we have eaten and drunk in Thy presence; and He will say unto them, Depart from Me, I never knew you (St. Matt. vii. 22.):’ that is to say, a soul that has sinned unto death by one sin, one transgression, continuing in that state, until restored to union with God by charity and by grace, is dead before God, and all the actions of the soul are dead.

Those who are in such a condition are like men looking up to a high mountain on which the sun dwells perpetually in its splendour, and there is a glory as of the Heavenly City upon it, and they long to climb up to it; but before them there is the breast of a precipice, which no human foot can scale, and they pine away with longing and with the impossibility of ascending: or they are like men gazing upon a fair country, the Promised Land of vineyards and olive-yards and fig-trees, and rivers flowing with milk and honey; and homes of peace are before them; but at their feet there is a river, so deep and rapid, without ferry and without ford, which the mightiest swimmer cannot pass. So is it with sinners. The law of God stands between the soul that is cut off from Him, between the soul that is out of grace, and the peace of God.


Lastly, there is another effect of the sin unto death; that is, that it brings a man into a double debt before God–it brings him into the debt of guilt, and into the debt of pain–and he will have to pay both. The debt of guilt he must answer at the Day of Judgment. The debt of pain he must suffer before he can see God, either here, or after death in the state of purification: or in hell to all eternity. Every substance in this world has its shadow. You cannot separate the shadow from the substance. Where the substance moves the shadow follows, so every sin has its pain; it matters not whether we think of it or no, whether we believe it or no. So it is: God has ordained it from the day in which He said: ‘In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt die the death.’ From that day onward, no sin has ever been committed that has not been followed by its measure of judicial pain. It must be some day expiated, either by bearing it here or bearing it hereafter, or by a loving sorrow prevailing with God through the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, to wash out from the book of His remembrance the great debt of accumulated sin.

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