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


In respect of its Defect from that end and use which God did intend in the Creation of man, by making him with this Imaginative Power.

SEcondly, In respect of its defect from that end and use, which God did intend in the Creation of man by making him with this imaginative power. We must readily yeeld, that as God did shew his wonderfull wisdome and power in making of man, which the Scripture often observeth, comparing the work∣manship of our body, to the curious needle work of some skilfull woman, Psal. 139. 15. so all these powers and parts of the soul were made for singular and admi∣rable use, and therefore the imagination as well as the rest; yea we are to know, that in all those visions and dreames by which God did appear to the Prophets and others, it was by exciting and working upon their imagination; so that God hath exceedingly honoured that part of the soul in this way. The Page  354 use of this imaginative power, is two-fold, as of the other senses; The one proxime and immediate, which is to performe their operations for which they were given to men; The other remote and more general, which is to be in∣strumental to the salvation of the soul, and also to the glorifying of God; For by the imagination we are to glorifie God, as well as by other parts of soul and body; The former end of the imagination, I may call naturall; The later, morall; I shall not speak of the former, because whatsoever defect is now upon the fancy in that way, not being able to do its office, as at first Creation, it is meerly penall, a punishment, and not so much our sinne; Thus, that men are subject to madness in their fancy, that the imagination by any distemper in the organ, where it is fixed, may be wholly perverted, as we see in seavers, and in phrensies, and sometimes in dying men; This is not so much a sinne in the fancy, as a punishment, even as death is inflicted upon us, because of Adam's transgression. It is true, that Adam, though created with full and perfect knowledge in naturals and supernaturals that was necessarily required to his blessedness, yet as Suarez well determineth, (De Creatione homines lib. 3. cap. 9) in the use of his knowledge he had recourse to phantasmes in the imagination, because that is a natural way to the soul, while joyned to the body, only in that state, as the organ was not subject to any bodily distempers, so neither could his imagination any way erre; but the sinne of Adam hath not onely brought on that part an obnoxiousness to many bodily distem∣pers, but filled it also with sinnefulness, which is eminently seen in its aberra∣tion from that two-fold main end it was at first bestowed on us for: The one whereof is, the salvation of our souls; for if the sence of hearing the Word of of God, and of seeing the wonderfull works which God hath wrought, be so greatly instrumental to our sanctification, why should not the imagination much more? but who may not complain what an impediment and hinderance his fancy is to his souls good, it imagines evil and vanity, it is wholly pleased with empty and vain things, neglecting the true solid good, so that there is no man that is acquainted with the frame of his soul, but may groane under the sinful unruliness of his imagination, especially (as is to be shewed) in holy and religious approaches to God; When all the powers should be united in one way, then what swarmes of roaring imaginations? What importunate and im∣pertinent fancies are ready to fill thy soul, as flies sometimes did Egypt? Was it thus in the state of Creation? Did God create us with such fickle confused and erratique imaginations? how greatly would it dishonour God to affirm so? Affect thy heart therefore greatly with this, to think that that which was so exceedingly conducible to thy souls happiness, is now such an impedi∣ment and enemy thereunto. It is a corrupt licentious opinion, which Speran∣za (though a Papist) attributeth to several famous Schoolmen, viz. That a man is not bound to repell an evil thought, if there be not danger of consent to it, but may suffer it to be in his mind, as some natural thing, even with advertency that it is there: but this is justly called by the foresaid Author, (Spiranza scrip. sel. dig. de cong. punct. 11.) Offendiculum animarum, an opinion that is a stumbling block and scandal to souls, neither may our sinfull imaginations greatly humble us, if this were true. And as for the other end, which is to glorifie God; Wherein hath God been more dishonoured then by the imaginations of men? Whence hath that Idolatry filled the whole world? How come superstitious ma∣gical divinations but by the sinne of imagination? These phantasmata on 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, in the brain make these Idols which men fall down and worship, so that they may well have the same name. The Apostle Rom. 1. speaking of the Hea∣thens, and that in their high profession of wisdome, yet saith, They became vain in their imaginations, and why so? because of their Idolatry, turning the glory of God into birds, and beasts, insomuch that the sinnefulness of the imagina∣tion Page  355 of man hath caused all the Idolatry of the world; They have not gone to God as revealing himself in the Word by faith, but according to their natural light, by carnal and gross imaginations; whereas therefore Images were brought into the Church at first, that they might be (as Gregory said) igno∣rant mens Books; the truth is, they did teach, and confirme in erronious ima∣ginations, for from such pictures do ignorant people still conceive of God, as an old man, and of the Holy Ghost as a Dove, they imagining such things, as these Images do represent. The imagination then of man doth arise unto an high degree of impiety, when it will fancy or conceive of God without the guide of the Scripture; if so be the understanding cannot comprehend this infi∣nite Essence, how much less can our imagination? if he said Quinquid de Deo dici potest, eo ipso est indignum, quia dici potest; and, Tunc Deum digne estima∣mus, cum inestimabil indicimus: If I say he be thus above the highest contem∣plations of our minds, no wonder if he infinitely transcend our imaginations. It is an evasion that some Papist hath, (as I have read, though I cannot remem∣ber where for the present) when pressed with this Argument, that it is a great dishonour to God, and full of reproach to his Majesty, to represent him under such external formes and shapes, he would (I say) evade by inslancing in the imagination, as a natural faculty in the soul; The understanding cannot ap∣prehend of God, but by the imagination, and the imagination doth necessa∣rily receive Images and representeth species about God; otherwise we cannot at all think of him, and yet this is no Idolatry. But

First it may be answered, These formes and representations in the fancy, when we think of God, arise from the natural constitution of man, so that it cannot be avoided; It doth arise from our finite and corporeal nature, where∣by nothing can come into the understanding before it hath been in the sense and the imagination, but their Images and Idols are external gross and volun∣tarily set up to worship God by. And

Again, Howsoever such shapes and formes may come into the imagination of man about God, yet it's the duty of the understanding to expel them, and to conceive of God without any corporeal forme, as a Spirit of infinite Ma∣jesly, and therefore the imagination must not guide the understanding, but the understanding lead the imagination, that so we may not have the least thought about God, but what becometh his glorious being: but of this more in a par∣ticular by it self, because of its gret concernement. Thus we see how the ima∣gination is wonderfully defective from its main end, both in reference to Gods glory, and mans own salvation and happiness.