TO THE CHRISTIAN READER.
THe Doctrine of Original Corru∣ption is as extensive in the useful∣nes•• of it, •as the sinne it self is diffusive in the contagion thereof; so that as there is none born in a natural way, who can plead an immaculate conception, either is there any who doth not need profita••e information herein, for the deep and radical Humiliation of himself before God. As for the Doctrine of it, it's easie and difficult; easie, because we palpably and eviden•∣ly finde the effects thereof▪ Difficult, because the exact knowledge of it being chiefly be divine Revelation; No•onder if those, who attend to Page [unnumbered]Aristole more than Paul, and des••• be •a∣tionales, rather than fideles, have gro••ely 〈◊〉 in the darke they walke in. It is the old known saying of Austin, Antiquo peccato nihil ad praedicandum notius, nihil ad intelligendum secr•••. Hence it is that as a Popish Writer well observeth (Elisim piorum Clyp. Quest. 12. Artic. 1.) When we have heard what any learned men can say, yet still we desire to know more about it, Nil de eo legitur, quin am∣plius de eo legi desideratur. By enquiring, our appetites are not so much satisfied, as provoked, •et the light of the Scripture is sufficient; as to all necessary saving Knowledge about it; And as for Curiosities and needlesse Subtilties, which are a shell in the Controversie, we may throw them them away, and eat the Kernel. It is acknow∣ledged both by Papists and Protestants, that the Controversies about Original Sinne, are of very great importance. Stapleton chargeth us (Proleg. Disput. de peccat. Originali) with two capital maternal Errours, the one about the Scriptures; the other about Original Sinne, as if these two were the Joachin and B••z our Temple is built up∣on, as if these were the two breasts from which all other erroneous Doctrines suck their pestiferous na∣ture. We again on the other side, do propugn these two Principles (the former whereof we may call Principium cognoscendi, and the later princi∣pium essendi) as the two fountaines of Doctrinal Page [unnumbered] and Practical Piety, so that to destroy any of these, is to lay the ax to the root of the tree, that so no more fruit in Religion may grow thereupon. The Pontificians and Protestants are generally agreed in this (for some Papists, but few dissent from their own Party herein) that there is such a thing as Original Sinne; and that it is truly, properly and univocally a Sinne; only they complain of us, as too direfully and tragically amplifying the nature of it. Hence Hoffmeister, Eccius & Cassander grant a consent in this; onely they think the Protestants words and expressions are capable of a perfective al∣teration The expresse Adversaries therefore to this Doctrine were the Pelagians of old, the Soci∣nians and some Anabaptists of late; and more par∣ticularly a late English Writer Dr. Taylor (U∣num Necessarium, and in other little Pieces) (Proh nefas!) like a second Julian in triumph∣ing language, hath with much boldness and au∣dacity decried it, as if it were but a non ens, and the Disputes needless about it. For although sometimes he would make the world believe he hold∣eth Original Sinne, yet these are but words, ad frangendam invidiam, as Pelagius of old would use the word Grace, for when it cometh to the ex∣plication, he meaneth no more than an Original Curse, or else the meer Naturals (that he speak∣eth of, complying with Pelagius and some Jesuites in that notion) whereby having lost the gratuitals our nature was at first crowned with, it is cast into an un∣fitness Page [unnumbered] for the Kingdom of Heaven. What learning and abilities the Author may have, I doe not detract from, only it's greatly to be lamented, that he should contrary to Cyprian, and others, take the Gold he had in Jerusalem, and carry it into Egypt to build an Idol there. He hath fully improved his liberty of Prophesying, and waving reverence to the Scri∣ptures, Councils and Fathers, yea, and the Church of England, in whose Obedience he doth so glory in (as appeareth by the 9th Article, and the Order of Administration of Baptism) by a sceptical and academical disposition, he is fallen into this He∣resie: for so the denial of Original sinne hath al∣wayes been accounted. Neither let this Writer think that his industrious affectation of words and language, will make falshood to be truth. There is great difference between skin and bone, words and arguments in any Theological Discourse. Neither are Tractates veriores quia disertiores, there is ambitiosum eloquentiae mendacium. And as Austin expressed it, arma non vulnerant quia ful∣gentia, •ed quia fortia. It is true, if this VVriter hath no Original sinne in him, and his Adversaries have, then he must needs dispute with great advan∣tage; for ignorance and imperfection doth not ad∣here to his intellectuals, as we acknowledge doth to ours, and that by Original sinne. But it must be confessed he betrayeth much of Original sinne, even while he writeth against it, and his Arguments (as I may so say) materialiter prove it, while formali∣terPage [unnumbered] against it. His greatest honour is, that a Papist hath written against him.* One might doubt, whe∣ther really or by collusion, it is done so slightly, and cal∣culated wholly according to the Popish Meridian; and yet in some respects it is his great disparagement, that one of Babylon should appear at least in some measure for an ancient Truth, while at the same time one pretending to be of Sion should oppose it. But enough of this troublesom matter.
I now come to acquaint the Reader with the Me∣thod I propound in this Book, which is first to handle the An sit of Original Sinne; Secondly, The Quid sit; which done, I proceed to the two-fold Subject of it, mentioned by the Learned; The Subject of Inhe∣sion; And herein, I shew particularly and largely, how every power of the Soul is infected by this Lepro∣sie; which accomplished, I passe to the Subject of Predication, shewing, That it is in every one na∣turally born of a woman, That omnis homo, and totus homo is thus corrupted; and then close with the consideration of the Properties and Effects of it. All which I have endeavoured to manage practi∣cally, as well as doctrinally, knowing the great and excellent improvement in a spiritual way, that may be made of this truth, as I experimentally found by the attestation of godly hearers in the preaching thereof; and I doubt not but if the Ministers of Christ did more largely insist on this Point, they would finde very good success thereby, for the through Humilia∣tion of their people, the information about Regene∣ration, Page [unnumbered] and the Nature of it; it would awaken not only the prophane, but the civil and externally mo∣ralized persons. This would keep a man serious in the wayes of God, attending to the treacherous ene∣my within, and thereby avoid the temptation, to be transported by curious and unnecessary Questions; but above all, this will prepare to exalt Christ in his Mediatory Office. This will be the foundation to build the free and unsearchable riches of Gods grace upon. Insomuch that the whole summe of Re∣ligion doth consist in the cause of the first and second Adam.
I shall trouble thee no further; only my desire is, That the Reader would pass by candidly the Errata, he will often meet with in the printing, by reason of my distance from the Press; as also the mispointings, which many times obscure the sense. Now the Father of Spirits mould and fashion our hearts ac∣cording as every divine Truth requireth, and make us to gather and hive up Honey from every Flower in his Garden, that so our Christianity may not be spe∣culative, and from Books only, but experimental, and savourily affecting the heart, which only bring∣eth hope of eternal life, is the prayer of
Thine in Christ Jesus ANTHONY BURGESSE.
Sutton Coldfield Aug. 19. 1658.