A treatise of original sin ... proving that it is, by pregnant texts of Scripture vindicated from false glosses
Burgess, Anthony, d. 1664.


Objections Answered.

WE are vindicating the righteousness of God in his proceedings with mankind about original sinne, being presumptuously accused by those who harden themselves against this truth. I proceed therefore to lay down one Proposition only more, thereby answering their particular Objections, which will help us to much light in this point, that it may seem no new or strange thing, that Radix damnata should proferre ramos damnatos, a condemned root should bring forth condemned branches, or a poisoned fountain invenomed streams.

The Proposition is this, God who made man thus perfect and exactly qualified every way to attain that glorious and for which he was made, did not appoint him as a meer single person to stand and fall for himself, but as a publique person, in whom we were all represented, and whose will should be as the will of all mankind; and therefore Rom. 5. we are not only said to be made sinners by him, which deno∣teth our inherent corruption, but also to sinne in him, which supposeth, that our persons were represented in him, not in this sense, as if we had appointed Adam our delegate (as it were) and so had passed over our wils to him, for how could that be, when we had no existency or being at all; Therefore this was wholly by the appointment of God, that it should be so, who is the supream Lord over all mankind; Even as Christ was Surety for all those who were given him of the Father, not as if believers did delegate him (as some have absurdly and odiously stated the Question) but he was designed to that office by the appoint∣ment of God. Adam then was made the common Trustee and Treasurer for all mankind, though he did prove (as it were) the Phaeton, involving all his poste∣rity in utter destruction; so that Adam was the head of mankind two wayes,

1. He was the caput naturale, the natural head from which his off spring was to descend, and so original sinne is communicated unto us, because of our na∣tural propagation from him; This maketh Austin call it therefore so great a sinne, that we are never able to judge enough of the hainousness of it, because hereby the whole mass and lump of mankind is soured with it; but this is not all, Therefore

In the second place, He was made caput morale, God did appoint him to be our moral head, covenanting with him, that if he perservered, the good promised should redound to him and to all his posterity, but if he did apostatize then he and all his off-spring shall be plunged into the evil threatned, and this Covenant was made known to Adam, that so he might be the more carefull to look to his duty; Neither was it requisite that God should expect Adam's consent, or ours to this agreement, seeing God is the absolute Sovereign and Lord of all, and herein did consult for our good, better then if he had taken any other way, as Page  430 is more to be insisted on. But against this Covenant many rise up with open mouth; Soto the Papist he derides it, the late Writer, so often mentioned, saith, he knoweth of no such thing, and which is the greater pity; Jausenius more orthodox, though a Papist, then many who call themselves Protestants, in the Pelagian Controversies, he following Austin too rigidly calleth it, Novum pacti mysterium, &c. the new mystery of a Covenant founded upon no Scripture, Tradition, or solid Reason, but exeogitated by meer humane Authority (De Stat. Nat. lap. lib. 1. cap. 16.) But though this Covenant with Adam be not expressed, yet evident and inseparable consequences from the Scripture will compel us to believe it, For was the commination of death only to him as a singular person, was he only interessed in the punishment of death, if he did disobey; The event demonstrateth the clean contrary, for do not all die upon his voluntary transgression? Is not this then plainly to say, that God made a Covenant with him as a publique person? And if Austin were not of that mind, how could he say, Omnes homines fuernnt ille unus homo? We were not all that one man phy∣sically and naturally, therefore morally and by Covenant in Gods estimation, per jurisfictionem (as they say) though we must not think this was a meer ficti∣on or imaginary thing, as the Remonstrants call it, only a dispensative Cove∣nant, not as if God were really angry with mankind for this transgression. Again, If there were not this Covenant, the Apostle could not lay it still upon one man, Rom. 5. and 1 Cor. 15. but if it were only because the root is defiled, then our parents sins would be accounted to us as well as Adam's, which com∣pelled Austin to incline to that opinion also.

Lastly, (For I have proved this before) Adam is called, Rom. 5. 14. The figure of his who was to come, that is, Christ; The 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the Type, that is by way of contrariety, that as Christ was the head of all believers to justification and eternal life; so Adam was the head of all his posterity to sinne and eternal death; Therefore Christ is called the second Adam, whereby it is plain, That God did appoint these two as two contrary heads, and publique persons for two contrary ends, which doth necessarily imply a Covenant; and indeed who can deny, but that as all the Angels did stand upon their own personal account; The other Angels did not sinne in Lucifer as a common head, though happily by imitation, but they all stood upon their own bottom, and so were condemn∣ed for their own personal iniquity; so God also might have ordered about man, that Adam's sinne should not have hurt his posterity, what he did should be imputed to his own person only, as it is now with parents in respect of their children: Thus men might not have been subordinate to him, but collateral in respect of a moral consideration, though naturally they descended from him, for the denying of original righteousness, which is the consequent of Adam's sinne, was wholly at his free pleasure, only supposing the Covenant, it doth become necessary to us to be deprived of it, and it cannot be rationally thought, how original righteousness upon Adam's standing could have been propagated to his posterity without this Covenant of God, that it should be so.

So then if this foundation be surely laid, this will abundantly quell all those calumnies, whereby Gods proceedings are traduced in this point; for whereas it is thought to be unheard of injustice, and intollerable, that we should not only be made miserable, both temporally and eternally by another mans sinne, but also sinfull by his sinne, which is thought to be the greatest cruelty that can be imagined: We are made sinners whether we will or no, that we may be damned whether we will or no. This Proposition may serve to compose such distempered apprehensions, not indeed but that we must admire in some re∣spects at Gods holy and righteous proceedings, which we are not fully to com∣prehend. Austin is affected with the miris modis, and occultis judiciis of God in these dispensations; And he that will not leave to faith, to apprehend where Page  431 reason cannot comprehend, doth deserve both ex congruo & condigno, to be accounted a Philosopher, rather than a Christain, and his Religion Reason, ra∣ther than Faith; For what point is there in those mysteries of faith, which we believe, wherein we are not to cry out 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Oh the depths! Our oyster∣shell cannot empty that Ocean; as Austin is reported to have a vision of a young man attempting to do so, while he was writing his book of the Trinity, thereby informing him of humane incapacity to reach comprehensively to such things. Again, There is none saith, that this sinfull condition, and so by con∣sequence miserable is brought upon Infants necessarily; for although as to them it's inevitable, yet in Adam, it was free and voluntary, God had abun∣dantly furnished him withall abilities to make mankind happy, and none may presume of Adam's posterity, that he would have done otherwise. Who can say, he would have done otherwise then Adam did, seeing God did on purpose create man at first in such a furnished and qualified manner, that as Austin ob∣serveth, the world might see what the free-will of man could do, that now we may see what the grace of Christ can do.

Furthermore, (Which consideration alone is able to overthrow the foun∣dation of all the calumnies cast upon this Doctrine) God when he made Adam thus the common trustee for mankind, did herein consult our good; It was for mans advantage that all this was done for him, he intended original righteousness, immortality and happinesse should descend from him to his posterity, upon his perseverance, so that no more evil is now inflicted upon Adam's off-spring then good was designed and provided for him, if he had continued in obedi∣ence. If sinne and misery come upon Infants now before actual knowledge, so would original righteousnesse and happinesse have descended upon them be∣fore their consent; and whereas happily many of Adam's posterity, yea all, if left to themselves, would have revolted from God; upon Adam's confirma∣tion, all would have been confirmed: So that we see God doth not inflict more evil then he had provided good for us.

Again, The known Enemy to the Doctrine of original sinne doth falsly and odi∣ously represent this Doctrine, as if Infants were innocents, and yet we hold them guilty of eternal damnation, and therefore having mustered many reasons together, concludeth upon the account of them, That it is safe to affirm, that God doth not damn any one to hell for the sinne of another. (Vnum Necess. cap. 6. Sect. 1.) Now this is to make Chimera's of his own head, for no Di∣vine saith, That an Infant deserveth hell, meerly because Adam sinned, nor is he obnoxious to the wrath of God meerly for that, but because this corruption of Adams is also propagated to the child, and so it is obnoxious to the wrath of God, for that inherent derived pollution, and the Scripture being as plain and clear in describing of such a natural estate of man by his descent from A∣dam, as may possibly be desired; We must not leave such evident Texts, be∣cause we may subtilly dispute in a cavilling manner about Gods proceedings herein. It is good Rule among the Schoolmen, That in Philosophicis argu∣mentum facit fidem, but in Theologicis-fides facit argumentum, In Philosophy the Argument worketh saith or assent, but in Divinity, saith worketh the argu∣ment; So that we are to believe that one place, if there were no more, of Da∣vid's confession, Psal. 51. 5. Behold I was shopen in iniquity, and in sinne did my mother conceive me, then all the curious, presumptuous speculations of men, who from reason would demolish this truth, and as for their evasions, and wrestings of that place, they are so forced and irrational, that a man may justly tremble to see men no more reverentially submit their thoughts to the Scripture; Certainly the Psalmist intended, that every one should have a special regard to this truth delivered there, because of the (Behold) prefixed, which is, as I may so say, the Asterisce of the holy Ghost, or the Bibles nota benè (as was for∣merly said in this Text.)

Page  432If further it be objected, That it was not voluntary to Adam's posterity, their consents were to be expected.

To this it is easily answered, That seeing God had provided such a way for mankind, as was for their good, seeing the contrary good, and more also to that evil we are now fallen into, was intended for us in case of Adam's obedi∣ence, how silly is it to say, mans consent should be expected? Not to adde fur∣ther, that the holy wisdom of God ordering it thus, is enough to make us ne∣ver to open our mouths more against this way; and as for the involuntarinesse of this sinne, we have several times spoken to that, It was voluntary as farre as the nature of such a sinne did require, even as habitual sinnes are not voluntary, as actual are, but are as farre as habitual ones do require. It was voluntary effectivè; This sinne did not arise from the nature or matter of man necessarily, as the Materiarii and other Heretiques taught, but by the voluntary transgres∣sion of Adam; It is also voluntary subjectivè, for this corruption is chiefly seat∣ed in the will, which ruleth the whole man; and it is voluntary consecntivè by consequent, for man naturally delighteth in this evil estate, and till grace make a change we are not weary of this condition. It is true, this subsequent will whereby we delight in our original pollution, doth not properly make original sinne to be ours, for this is an actual sinne, and floweth from that better root, only it sheweth that this evil estate is so farre from being contrary to mans will naturally, that it delighteth in it, and doth contumaciously rebell against the grace of Christ that would deliver.

Lastly, Whereas the 18th Chapter of Ezekiel is commonly objected against this truth, where God by the Prophet at large declareth, That the Sonne shall not die for the fathers sinne (an innocent for a nocent) but every one shall die in his own iniquity; I have spoken something to this already, neither am I to con∣sider, how that place is to be reconciled with the second Commandment, wherein God is said, To visit the iniquity of fathers upon their children to several generations, Exod. 20. 3. and several instances of Scripture make it good. To be sure the Proverb which gave occasion to this passage, was a prophane one, redounding to Gods dishonour; Sanctius (in locum) the Papist thinketh that the Jews of old had used it, and that because of Adam's fall imputed to his po∣sterity, but it seemeth rather at that time to be taken up, while under the judge∣ments of God, especially for Manassehs his sins, as appeareth Jer. 15. 4. where is observable, that though Manasses had repented, and his sinnes pardoned to him, yet God visited them upon the Nation afterward; So that it may not seem strange: If it be affirmed, That notwithstanding Adam repented, and his sinne pardoned, yet it may be visited upon all his posterity. There are various thoughts about the interpretation of the place: Some making it a promise un∣der the Covenant of grace only, as it seemeth probable, if you compare it with Jer. 31. 29. where the same prophane Proverb is mentioned, and this promise to the contrary, whereas Adam was under the Covenant of works. Others ve∣ry probably say, This is not to be extended to all times and places, only God promiseth, That in their particular condition at present, they shall have no oc∣casion to use it; for such who did, might be brought back from their captivity. Thus Sanctius and Maldenate, because (say they) it is plain, That the Jews now are under their grievous calamity for their fathers sake, who crucified Christ, saying, Let his blood be upon us and our children, Mat. 27. 25. But how∣ever the Exposition be, it doth not gain-say this Doctrine of original sinne, for there it speaketh of children free from their parents sins; we speak of children filled with inherent corruption themselves, though derived from Adam, and chiefly, because there the Prophet speaketh of particular, private parents, whereas we say, Adam was a publique appointed person by God himself, so that that of Adam's is extraordinary, even as Christ, though innocent, yet Page  433 died for our sins, which yet seemeth to contradict this place of Ezekiel, and the Socinians bring it to prove it could not stand with Gods justice to punish Christ, being innocent, for our sins.

But in the close of all we may justly retort on those who oppose this truth, that they attribute much injustice and cruelty to God, which Austin doth fre∣quently urge the Pelagians with, for they make all the misery that many times falleth upon young Infants, yea and that repugnancy and temptation that is within us against good to be from our primitive constitution, that God made us so. Those that will not acknowledge original sinne to be the cause of this misery, must make God to be so, and therefore, as appeareth by Baronius (Annal. Anno 418.) The Emperors Edict made to banish Pelagians, containeth this, as one reason, Proprer trucem inclementiam &c. for the horrid and cruel incle∣mency they attribute to God, passing a sentence upon man to die before he li∣veth; But I shall hereafter, when I come to speak of the Effects of original sin make it appear,

That the opposers of original sinne do more unjustly, yea and blasphemously attribute many things to God in a farre more transcendent way then their adversaries are by them supposed to do; How can it stand with the goodness, mercy and love of God, that so much evil, and death it self should be upon mankind from mans Creation, and not rather that it was in∣troduced by Adam's sinne?

Let the Use of all this be to humble our selves under Gods righteous proceed∣ings, to say with Job chap. 40. 3 Behold I am vile, I will lay my hand upon my mouth; Yea mayest thou not admire at the wise ends of God revealed in Scri∣pture, why this should be? This is to stop every mans mouth; This is to make it appear, That all the world is guilty before God; This is to make it appear, that Christ is necessary, this is the way to make Christ more glorious and precious to those that do believe.