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


JOE 14. 4.
Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.

THough other pregnant Texts in the New Testament may be brought to confirm this Necessary and Fundamental Truth about original sinne, yet I shall forbear them, till I come to the handling of the Nature of it, or what it is; For that is not true of the Remon∣strants, which say, Original sinne can be proved only by two or three places; although if there were no more, it's certain, that out of the mouth of two or three such Divine Witnesses, the Doctrine about it may be established.

I come therefore and select one or two places out of the Old Testament, that so you may see this Truth was alwayes acknowledged in the Church of God, and that even in the times of the Old Testament, where divine light and knowledge was not so plentifully communicated, yet there was full and clear evidence about this.

The Text I have read is deservedly both by the ancient and later Writers esteemed a powerfull place, to prove our natural uncleannesse and sinne∣fulnesse.

To understand it therefore consider, That whereas Job in the former verses had asserted the vanity and mortality of man, comparing him to a flower, which though sweet for a while, yet is presently cut down. Thus all the comforts, all the joyes thou hast in this world, they are but a Poesie, which have a pinne within them to prick thee for the present, while thou smellest on them, and will quickly wither away. But because flowers also have some substance and sweet∣ness for the present, in the next place he resembleth our life to a shadow, which as he said was nigrum nihil, a black nothing; There is both emptiness and transi∣toriness in all these things; and hitherto all the Heathens have arrived, They all perceived these miseries and troubles we are obnoxious unto: But then in my Text, we have the cause of this, which they were either totally or in a great mea∣sure ignorant of; God then did not make man like a shadow thus at first; but sinne brought this corruptibility into the world, and that not actual sinne, but Page  49 original; If there had been none but this, yet all these miseries would have fallen upon mankind.

In the words therefore we have a full and clear Description of that original sin or birth-sinne we are guilty of; Yea the Text saith, It is impossible, it should be otherwise: So that the Scripture, and those that deny original sinne are diame∣trally opposite one to another: They say, there is no such birth-sinne: The Scri∣pture saith, It cannot be, but that there must be such an original contagion.

In the Text, we have the Interrogation, and the Answer; The Interrogation is therefore put to shew the vehemency and peremptoriness in affirming this truth, it's more than if it had been barely said, That none can bring a clean thing out of an unclean; The meaning is, That every man being by nature unclean, it's ne∣cessary that every one born of man therefore should be unclean.

By uncleanness is meant sinne, as appeareth by comparing this with Chap. 15. 14. Chap. 25. 4. where you have this expression used, and it is opposed to righ∣teousness, and to be justified before God. It is therefore an uncleanness not na∣tural or bodily (as the Pelagians of old would have wrested it) but spiritually opposite to Righteousness, and such as depriveth a man of Justification: Yea, the word unclean, is applied to signifie hainous pollution: Hence the Devils are so often called unclean spirits, so that the Devils and mankind are in this alike.

The Hebrew Preposition Min, is by some understood of mutation, by others of origination, but one is necessarily connexed with the other; of mutation in this sense, Who shall give (for so it is in the Hebrew) that is, Who can make pure, him that is impure? Who can change that which is naturally filthy? No man by his free-will, or power can; or else it is for the originals, and that doth seem the most genuine, for Job is speaking what belongs to every man naturally, and thus the sense is, From that which is unclean, none can bring that which is clean: Even as our Saviour saith in another case, None can gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles, Mat 6. 16. or as the Apostle James, A sweet fountain cannot send forth bitter streams, so neither can a bitter fountain sweet streams, Jam. 3. Now when it is said, Of an unclean thing cannot come a clean: Hereby Adam in his first Cre∣ation is excluded, for he was made holy, and came not out of that which was unclean; and also Christ is hereby excluded, for although he is said to be born of a woman, yet that was in a miraculous and extraordinary manner: As for the Dispute about the Virgin Mary, whose freedom from original sinne, some have with great vehemency maintained, that seemeth not any wayes probable, as is to be shewed. It is also good to observe the emphatical expression in the word, Out of unclean thing, which implieth, That man by nature is all over sin∣full, in mind, will, affections; and the whole man, it is the unclean thing; even as Christ was called the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the holy thing, because he was in every particu∣lar altogether holy.

In the next place, you have the Answer, Not one. Some read this interroga∣tively. Doest not thou alone? as speaking to God, so the Chaldee Paraphrast. These make the sense to be, That God alone, and no other can deliver out of this uncleanness. Hence also some make that expression, Who can forgive sinne, but God alone? to be an allusion to this place. For, as Aquinas saith, De frigido fa∣cere calidum est ejus quod per se calidum est, &c. Of cold to make hot, is the effect of that which is hot of it's own nature: So of unclean to make clean, is the pro∣per work of him, who is in his own nature pure, and essentially holy. The Sep∣tuagint they read it differently from others, who is free from uncleanness, nor a child, though he be but a day old. That which is most genuine is to take it nega∣tively, as our Translators do, and hereby is demonstrated, That there is not one in all mankind born in a natural manner, but he is sinfull, and polluted: This same is expressed more fully, Chap. 15 14. The Socinians give in their excepti∣ons Page  50 to that place; but I shall deferre the consideration of them, till we take that to treat on, which doth evidently shew, That man is so naturally sinfull, that he drinketh sin down like water.

From the Text observe, That every one by birth and natural descent is spiritually unclean and sinfull.