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


I Am only demonstrating, that it is sin, and not what it is; There∣fore I proceed no further in the positive Explication of it, but come to answer those Objections, that are made by all sorts of persons against this sinne, whether Pelagians, some Pa∣pists, Arminians or Socinians; And when these Clouds are dispelled, the light of the Truth will shine more evident∣ly. And

First, That which is a famous and obvious Objection, owned by all the Ad∣versaries to this Doctrine, is, The necessariness and involuntariness of it.

Object. Every sinne (say they) must be voluntary; This is a principle in∣graffed, as they conceive, in the conscience of a man: No man is to be faulted, or blamed for that which is not in his power to prevent; And they press that known Rule of Austins, Vsque adeo voluntarium peccatum est malum, quod non sit peccatum, nisi voluntarium, If it be not voluntary, it cannot be any sinne at all. Now (say they) this original sinne comes upon us by natural necessity, it lieth no more in our power to prevent it, then to hinder our being born; Shall then we conceive God willing to damn a man, especially an Infant, for that sinne which ne∣ver was in his power, or his will to do? This they think cannot be admitted. Therefore though some of them grant, Adam's actual sinne may be made ours, be∣cause our will is interpretatively in his, yet not this inherent corruption, because this is a particular personal sinne, and so requireth a personal actual will to make it a sinne. And this seemeth to have some plausible colour, while we attend only to principles of humane Reason, and Arguments of Philosophy: But let us see, whether it will not be too light, if weighed in the balance of the Sanctua∣ry. And

Answ. 1. We must understand in what sense any sinne at all can be called vo∣luntary, and that is, not as if any man could will sinne, no not he that sinneth maliciously, as it is sin. This is granted by all moral Philosophers, That no man willeth sin, as it is sin, because bonum, either real or appearing so, is the adequate object of the will: As in the understanding, that cannot assent to any thing that is apparently false; so neither doth the will choose any thing that is manifested to be evil, as evil, but when it imbraceth any sine, there is some deceivable good or other, which deceiveth the soul. Thus Adam when he transgressed the com∣mand of God, he did not will this as a sinne, nor did he positively intend the damnation of his posterity (For we suppose that he knew himself to be a com∣mon Parent, and that he received a common stock for all mankind) But he willed that action, to which sinne was annexed; And thus no wicked man, when he sinneth, doth will the damnation of his soul formally, but Page  39 consequentially by willing that to which this guilt doth belong.

Secondly, Although it be granted, That every sinne must be voluntary, yet (as Austin of old answered) this sinne may be called voluntary, as it is in In∣fants, because their will is interpretatively in Adam, and we therefore are all said to sinne in him: Adam's will may be said to be our will two wayes:

1. By way of delegation, as if we had chosen him to be our common parent, and had translated our wils over to him, as amongst men, it is usual in arbitrati∣ons, and then they are said to will, that which their Arbitrator hath done, though it may be they dislike it, and in this sense, Adam's will is not our will, for we had no actual being or existence in him. Hence

2. Adam's will may be said to be ours interpretatively, God appointing him to be the universal principle of mankind; what he did is interpreted, as if we had done it, and the equity of making Adam's will ours, ariseth from the institu∣ting will and Covenant of God, that would have it so: But more especially, be∣cause God then dealt with Adam in a Covenant of works, which if broken and violated, carrieth condemnation to all his off-spring, as appeareth by the curses threatned in the Law. This original sinne then is voluntary, because committed by Adam's will, which by Gods imputation is made ours; so that as in Adam upon his actual disobedience, the Image of God was lost, and in stead thereof came an universal pollution of his whole man; which was in him truly and properly a sinne; So it is in every Infant descended from him.

Thirdly, If it be granted, That every sinne must be voluntary, yet this also will hold good in Infants sinne; for a thing may be said to be voluntarium in causa, but involuntarium in se. With moral Philosophers, all habits of sinne are involuntary in themselves, but voluntary in their cause; those actions that did produce them; And thus is original sin inherent in mankind, it is voluntary in its cause, which was Adam's sin.

Fourthly, Austin himself, who urgeth voluntariness in sinne, yet afterwards considering how the Pelagians made use of it, he answereth, That this is to be understood of actual sinne, not original sinne; Every actual sinne must be volun∣tary, it's not necessary original sinne should be personally and formally so: A∣gain, he limits that Rule to such sins as are meerly sins, not punishments also, but original sin is both a sin and punishment.

Lastly, He grants this to be true amongst the Laws of men, and therefore cals it politica sententia; And no wonder if Philosophers required a formal will in every sin, else not to make it imputable, because they were wholly ignorant of this Truth.

But in the last place, our Divines do deny that voluntariness is requisite to every actual sinne; for there are sinnes of ignorance for which Sacrifices were to be offered; And David prayeth to be cleansed from secret sins, which he did not know, and if so, they must be involuntary; yea, Paul expresly cals that a sin, Rom. 7. which yet was against his will, although it may be granted, that even in these there is some kind of voluntarines; For a thing may be voluntary either in its cause, or in it self, or absolutely involuntary, but comparatively voluntary, as when we do things for fear, or there may be a mixture of voluntarines and involuntarines, which Paul seemeth to acknowledge in himself, yet still the proper notion of a sinne lieth in the contrariety of it to the Law of God: Therefore John defineth sinne by that, whether it be voluntary or not, he doth not take notice of. This is ac∣knowledged by some Scholastical Writers, especially Holkot (De imputabilitate peccati) answereth this Objection fully to our purpose, where he positively af∣firmeth, That sinne is not therefore imputable unto us, because it was in the power of the will, but as righteousness is therefore praise-worthy, because it is righteous∣ness, so unrighteousness is therefore culpable, and damnable, because it is unrigh∣teousnessPage  40 (that is, if I may interpret him) because it's against a Law. Hence he proceedeth to shew, That a thing is not righteous or vnrighteous meerly because it was in the power of the will, for the will of a child would have been made righteous by God, sine proprie motu, without any proper motion of the childs will; And then why may it not as well be sinfull without any such voluntary motion in an Infant? So that he concludeth, It's as proper to original sinne to be naturally contracte or derived from another, without any proper act of the will, as it is to an actual sinne, to have the will one way or other consenting to it: Even as in the state of integrity, original righteousness in Infants would have been propagated, but actuall Righte∣ousness voluntarily performed. And these things may satisfie this first Objection, yet hereafter we shall speak more to this.