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

That Reason when once enlightned by the Scri∣pture, may be very powerfull to convince us of this Natural Pollution.

SECT. I.

A Clear and full knowledge of original sinne can be obtained onely by Scripture light; Although (as you heard) some Heathens have had a confused apprehension about it. My work at this time shall be, to shew, That even Reason, where once enlightned by the Scripture, may be very powerfull to convince us of this natural pollution. So that when Scripture, Reason and Experience shall come in to confirm this Truth, we may then say, there needeth no further disqui∣sition in this point. And

First, This may abundantly convince us, That the hearts of men are naturally evil, Because of the overflowing of all wickednesse in all ages over the whole world; How could such weeds, such bryers and thorns grow up every where, were not the soil bad? It's true, in some ages some kind of sinnes have abound∣ed more than others, and so in some places. But there was never any generation, wherein impiety did not cover the earth, as the waters do the Sea: Insomuch that if we should with zeal undertake to reprove them according to their desert, Non tam irascendum quàm insaniendum est, as Seneca of the vices of his time. Erasmus in his Epistle to Othusius complaineth,

That since Christ's time, there was not a more wicked age then that he lived in; Christ (saith he) crieth, I have overcome the world, but the world seemeth, as if it would say shortly: I have overcome Christ, because of the wickedness abounding, and that among those who profess themselves the salt and light of the world.
Now how were it possible, that the whole world should thus lie in wickedness, 1 Joh. 5. 19 as the Apostle affirmeth, but that all mankind by nature is like so many Serpents and Toads, of which there is none without poison? If this wickedness did abound only in some places, we might blame the Clymate, the Countrey, or their Edu∣cation, but it is in all places under the Equator, as well as the Tropick; in all ages, former times as well as later have been all groaning under ungodliness, and whereas you might say, The world is in its old age now, and the continual habi∣tuated customary wayes of wickedness have made us drink the dregs of impiety, yet the Scripture telleth us, That not long after the Creation of the world, when we might judge greater innocency and freedom from sinne to have been every where, yet then all flesh had corrupted their wayes, Gen. 6. 12. which provoked God to bring that wonderfull and extraordinary judgement of drowning it with water, as if it were become like a noisom dunghill that was to be cleansed. And lest you should think this was only because of their actual impieties, we see God Page  173 himself, charging it upon this, because the imaginations of a mans heart were only evil, and that from his youth up: So that there is no man who considers the wayes and manners of all the inhabitants of the world, but must conclude, had there not been poisonous fountains within, there had never been such poisoned streams. The warres, the rapines, the uncleannesses, and all the horrid trans∣gressions that have filled the earth, as the vermine did Aegypt, do plainly declare, That all men have hearts full of evil; And lest you might think this deluge of im∣piety is only in the Heathenish, Paganish and bruitish part of the world. The Psalmist complaineth of that people, who were the Church of God, and enjoy∣ed the light of the Word, That there was none righteous, that there was none that did good, no not one, Psal. 14. 3. So that as graves and dead mens bones, the Se∣pulchres and monuments every where do fully manifest men are mortal, no lesse do the actual impieries that fill all Cities, Towns and Villages discover, that all are by nature prone to that which is sinfull.

SECT. II.

SEcondly, This original sinne may be proved by reason, yea and experience thus, If you consider all the miseries, troubles and vexations man is subject unto, and at last death it self; and that not only men grown up, who have actual sinnes, but even new born Infants, will not this plainly inform us, That all man∣kind hath sinned, and is cast out of the favour of God: How can it enter into any mans heart to think, that God the wise Creator, so full of goodness to man, that he made him little lower than Angels, should yet make him more miserable than all creatures? It was Theophrastus his complaint, when he lay a dying,

That man had such a short time of life prefixed him, who yet could have been serviceable, and by long age and experience found out many observable usefull things, when Crows and Harts, and other creatures of no consideration have a long life vouchsafed to them:
Yea, all the Heathens, even the most learned of them, complained much concerning this Theme of mans misery, being never able to satisfie themselves in the cause of it; But now by the Scripture we see it's no wonder, the race of mankind is thus adjudged to all misery, seeing it's all guilty of sinne before God; so that if there had been no actual sinnes commit∣ted by the sonnes of men, yet the ground would have been cursed to bring forth bryers and thorns, man would have been miserable and mortal: So that this doth not onely teach us, there is such a sin, but that it was so hainous and abominable in the eyes of God, that no sin hath ever been punished like this.

SECT. III.

THirdly, Those reliques of the Image of God, and some implanted dictates and notions, with a natural conscience accusing and excusing; These do demon∣strate, that there was a glorious Image of God in us, but we have lost it. There is something in all men by nature, whereby they are convinced of a God, have re∣morse upon sinne, and tremble much when they are dying; Now what are all these but the rubbidge and obscure remnants of that holy estate we were created in; So that as when any famous building, or great City are brought to ruine, yet commonly there remain some fragments or others, that witness there was such a famous place once: Thus those implanted Dictates of conscience, those natural apprehensions about a God, though they are very confused, and cannot be a star to guide us to Christ, yet they remain as monuments of that spiritual excellent building. It is true, Illyricus out of his vehement desire to aggravate original sin Page  174 in us, denieth that those common notions about God, or good and evil, are na∣turally in us, but that they are de novo infused into us by God, and manifested, wherein also he hath some followers, but if such natural dictates remain in the Devils, which is plain, because otherwise they could not be so tormented for their wickedness as they are, why should it be denied to man? The Socinian also deni∣eth any implanted notion about a God, and that the knowledge of him comes by observation of the creatures, and also by education and tradition, but experience as well as Scripture confuteth this, in which respect Tertullian said, O animan natu∣raliter Christianum! It's true, some more orthodox dispute, Whether the faculty of the understanding in its operations only continueth, or that there are habitual principles inhering in it? It is enough that there remaineth a conscience in man, which like Job's messenger can inform us, though very obscurely of that sad loss which hath befallen us.

SECT. IV.

FOurthly, This may evidently convince us of our original pollution, That it is farre worse with man, now in respect of the end, he was created unto, and the na∣ture he was constituted in, then with any other creatures. This plainly argueth mans apostasie from God, for all creatures in their kind live proportionably, and obtain their end, which is usefulness and serviceableness to man, only man neither liveth according to his nature rightly considered, and withall doth miserably fall short of that glorious end for which God made him. If you consider man in his nature, he is a reasonable creature, and so ought to walk according to the principles of reason, to do nothing against the rules thereof; now all men are by original corruption, be∣come like bruit beasts that have no understanding; Hence the Scripture doth so often compare them to beasts, yea prefer beasts before them; The sluggard is com∣manded to go to the Ant, Israel is said to be worse than the Stork that knoweth her season, and the Ox or Ass that know their masters crib: Why doth the Scripture speak thus, but to shew that beasts do in their kind surpass man in his kind? Every wicked man is called a fool, and a simple one, because when he sinneth, he goeth against the dictates of true reason, and this is the condition of all men till regene∣rated by grace, they do not consider what God made them for, or why they have immortal and rational soules. Take the Drunkard, is not he worse then a beast? doth the beast drink any more then will suffice nature? insomuch that we may truly say all by nature are become spiritual monsters, for as a monster in nature is, when nature is deficient or redundant in her operations, and so worketh not regularly: Thus also when a man doth not keep the rules of reason, and live as one who hath a rational soul, he becomes like a monster, and so ought to abhor himself: Oh then loath thy self and say, every creature liveth like its kind! The horse doth as an horse should do, the ox as the ox should do, but I miserable and wretched sinner do nothing that a man should do! Again, The beasts, and so all creatures, although they are subject to vanity, and groan under a curse, because of mans sin, yet they do not fall short of the end, they were intended for. God he made man to serve him, and all the creaturs to serve man, and thus they do still, though a great part of this dominion man bath by his sin justly deprived himself of, yet the Sun giveth light to him; The earth brings forth her fruit for him, some living crea∣tures are daily slain for his food and cloathing; what shoals of fish, and flocks of birds do at some seasons of the year present themselves, as if they should say, here we appear to serve you; and this is the utmost perfection they were made for. But come to man, he was made to serve the Lord, therefore did God furnish him with all these mercies, that he might the more willingly and diligently obey him, but instead of God, he serveth Gods enemies, he serves sin in the Insts thereof, he serveth the de∣vil Page  175 in his desires: Thus of all the creatures God made next to the devils, man is in the most bitter and undone estate: So that this must needs stop thy mouth against all cavils, if there be no original sin, Why is man worst in his kind than any other creature in their kind? Yea, see the most savage beasts agree well enough with one another, one Wolf with another, one Tyger with another, yet one man is a Wolf and a Devil to another; When did you ever hear of a company of Bears going out to fight with another company of Bears? Yet what is more ordinary than to hear of one army of men, going out to kill and slaughter another? Can we say, God made man thus vile and sinfull? What intollerable blasphemy would it be? Oh then let us roll our selves in the dust! Let us say, we are not worthy the name of men, we are become beasts, yea, worse than beasts: Say not, This is to vilifie and to debase man too much; No, this is the only way to perform that duty, which not only Scri∣pture, but even Heathens have admired, as revealed from Heaven, Nosc teipsum, Know thy self; Doth not that expression in Job abundantly confirm this, Chap. 11. 12. Vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild asses colt? A colt, the asses-colt, and a wild asses-colt, such a stupid senssess thing is man, though he would be wise.

SECT. V.

5. MAn is originally defiled, Because that which is the most noble and excellent part in him, is captivated and inslaved to what is inferiour unto it. This was so greatly considered of by the Platonists, as you heard, that therefore they thought the souls of men had committed some crimes, for which they were adjudg∣ed to bodies as unto prisons and dungeons; How comes it about, that the rational part of a man, which was made to be the guide, and called by Philosophers the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that it should follow after the inferiour lusts of the soul, That this can∣dle should be put not under a bushel, but a dunghill; That the elder should serve the younger; That the tail should lead the head; we are not carried out to what rea∣son by the word of God commands, but by what every sinfull affection doth sug∣gest. Those that say, this rebellion between the mind and affections, was from the Creation, that God made man with this contrariety in himself, must needs make God the author of sin, but God saw every thing that he had made, and it was exceed∣ing good; If then thou doubtest, whether this universal pollution be upon thee, look into thy self, observe the rebellion, the repugnancy there, unto all light, whether natural or supernatural, and this will make thee readily confess it.

SECT. VI.

6. THe incurvation of the soul unto all earthly and worldly objects, this also makes it plain, we came with original sin into the world. The very making of the bo∣dy different from other creatures who look downwards, doth denote that therfore God created us, that both soul and body should look upwards. But is not every mans soul till rectified by grace bowed down to these earthly vanities, no more able to soar up to Heaven, than the worm can flie. Now this is a plain sign of thy sinful apostate condition. It is one of Hippocrates his rules, That when a sick man catcheth inordinatly at the feathers of his pillow, or at straws, and any such light matter, it is a sign of death; and truly to see men by nature so immoderatly snatching and cat∣ching at these worldly things, argue, thou art a dying, a perishing man, unless Gods grace doth interpose: As the Sun, though with its beams it shine upon the earth, yet it is not thereby defiled; So man ought, though he meddle in all outward affairs, though he marry, though he buy and sell, and use this world, yet he ought not in the least manner to soil and pollute his soul thereby. But as the body deprived of the soul fals prostrate on the ground, thus doth man deprived of Gods Image, so that he is never able to get above the creatures, but is vassaliz'd to them.

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SECT. VII.

THe work remaining is, to give further reasons (the Scripture being first laid as a foundation) to demonstrate this truth, That we are by nature originally defiled; For though man be unwilling to be found thus a sinner, and the entertaining of this truth seemeth to strike down all the hopes and comforts that a naturall man hath. Believe this, and all men, (as in respect of defect) are so many damned men, so that flesh and blood must needs deny, cavill, distinguish, and turn it self into a thousand shapes ere it will acknowledge it, yet look we into our selves diligently, and compare our selves with the glass of Gods Word, we cannot but say, That all we have heard by the Ministers, all that Sermons and Books tell us, come not up to what we feel in our selves; So that as the A∣postle, when he said, This corruption shall put on incorruption, he did cutem tan∣gere, did lay his hand upon his body, as Tertullian thought, so do thou strike upon thy thigh, and smite upon thy breast, and say, within this body, lieth a soul covered all over with sinne, and damnable guilt. To assure us more herein, these further discoveries may be added.

First, That spirituall death in sinne, which we are all plunged into, whereby we do become altogether senseless and stupid, as to any spirituall concernement. The death threatned upon Adam's trangression was spirituall, as well as corporall, and therefore Ephes. 2. We are said to be dead in sinnes till Christ quicken us by his power; Now this is a full discovery that we have lost Gods Image, and all spiritual life, otherwise why should not spirituall life be as quick, active, and moving towards spirituall objects, as our naturall and corporall life is to corpo∣rall things, Why is it, that when any do threaten corporall death and outward misery we are afraid, and will give all we have for this corporall life? But when the Devil tempts, and the world tempts, so that we are in danger of loosing eternal life, we have no trembling or horror taking hold upon us. Nebuchad∣nezzar made a law, that whosoever would not worship his Image, should be cast into a fiery furnace, and unless the three Worthies, none refused; so great a matter is the fear of a naturall death. But hath not God threatned hell which is ten thousand times more dreadfull then that fiery fornace, to every one that goeth on wickedly? yet none trembleth because of this; Is not this plain then, that thou art a dead man in sinne? Further, concerning our corporall life, how sollicitous are we about the preserving of it? what carking and caring for meat and raiment? what labour for the back and the belly? Is not the greatest im∣ployment in the world for these two things, and all this is that our frail perishing life may yet be continued? But do men naturally manifest any such thoughts and diligence about the meanes of a spirituall life? The preaching of the Word, the Ordinances, these God hath appointed to be spirituall food, by these our hea∣venly life is maintained; these are the oyl, to keep that lamp burning: But do not all men by nature loath these? are they not a burden to them? do they ever pant and thirst or hunger after these things, as men do for meat or drink? now, why is all this, but because we have no spirituall life in us? So that if you do con∣sider the insensibleness and stupidity of every naturall man, as to things of an heavenly aspect, you need no more to perswade you, that Gods Image is lost, and we are dead in sinne. When the body needeth food needeth raiment, all is supplyed, but so thy soul needeth Christ, needeth grace, and there is not the least thought to have a supply: yea we are not only dead in sinne, but have been a long while thus dead, and if she said of Lazarus, Joh. 11. 39. Lord by this time he stinketh, for he hath been dead four dayes. How much more may we say this in a spirituall sense of thee, who (it may be) hast been dead fourty or fifty years.

Secondly, This may be further inlarged by a consectary from the former; Page  177 will not this abundantly declare we are all over sinfull, Because heavenly things are not such objects of delight and pleasure to us, as carnall and worldly things are. This is a palpable demonstration of our wretched pollution, That we cannot feel any sweetness, any pleasure, or joy in those things which immediately concern God: Adam in his state of integrity, was like Jacob's ladder, the foot whereof was on the earth, but the top reached to heaven: Thus though Adam's inferior part the body, was exercised in these earthly things, yet his soul the more sub∣lime part, that was fixed in heaven; But now all our sueableness and communion with heavenly objects is wholly perished; we have hearts inlarged with joy, we are ravished with delights about wordly things, and when brought to any thing that is heavenly, there we are weary, and neither flesh or spirit is willing to such things; yet nature might reach us, that man of all creatures only hath hands, and those not to embrace the earth, but he hath feet to walk and trample upon it. We read of Paul and David, with other godly ones, when recovered in part from the power of this originall corruption, what longings and breakings of soul they had after God, and his Ordinances. These things were accounted for sweetness above the hony; and for presciousness above gold; now why should not every man be able to say so as well as they? but because our tasts are wholly distempered, and we are carnall not spirituall. Certainly spirituall objects have in themselves infinite more matter of joy and delight, then any earthly thing can have; who can think there is more sweetness in a drop, then in the ocean? more light in the starre, then in the sun? The creature is less then these in com∣parison of God: May not than even blind men see, that we are all over-plunged into sinne? else, why should not God and heavenly objects, which do so farre surpass in matter of true delight be more sweet and welcome to us, then all the creatures of the world though put together? Psal. 4▪ 6. Many say, who will shew us any good? The naturall man finds no delight but in these earthly things oppo∣sitely to God. There is a Shell in his soul, that is alwaies craving and asking, never satisfied; now, why can they not with David as well put forth the follow∣ing petition, Lord, lift up the light of thy countenance upon us? But because the carnall man finds no more pleasure in spirituall things, then the swine doth in pearles or pleasant flowres: A man that is spirituall having drunk of this water, desireth no other; As the Philosophers say, The matter of the heavens is so fully actuated by the heavenly formes, that it desireth no other, whereas the matter of these subunary things is never satisfied but though under one forme, yet it still desireth another. Thus the soul possessed of God and Christ, hath so much delight and pleasure that it hath enough, it desireth no change, but the naturall man is carried out from one thing to another, from one object to another, first delighting in this, and then in that, it being impossible that Zacheus his shoe should sit Goliah's foot: Thus you see that though a man be restless in his de∣lights, yet he can take pleasure in earthly things, whereas he finds no sweetness, no delight in heavenly things, that are infinitely more precious; So this may demonstrate the loss of Gods Image, and our service to originall sinne in the lusts thereof.

Thirdly, That we are thus originally corrupted, appeareth, in that utter im∣potency and inability to do any spirituall good: we are not able so much as to think a thought, or send forth an hearty groan, as to our eternall welfare; whereas at first God made Adam right, and thereby endowed him with power to do any thing that was holy, called therefore the Image of God; so happy and blessed was his condition, that he could with delight and joy fullfill the Law of God, feeling no difficulty, nor impediment, but now being dead in sinne, we are no more able then dead men to move, or walk in holy things. The Scripture is wonderfully clear in this, though Papists, Arminians and others have endea∣voured to raise a mist, and obscure the sun beames, Joh. 15. Without me ye can Page  178 do nothing. Rom. 8. The flesh is eumity against God, 1 Cor. 2. The naturall man perceiveth not the things of God, neither can he, where both the act of doing good, and the power also is denied to every man by nature: If therefore every man by nature be dead in sinne like a stone, as in respect of any holy impression from God, if he have blind eies, deaf eares, a foolish heart, as to any heaven∣ly thing, doth not this plainly tell us, that we are all over polluted? It's good for our humiliation to consider how the Scripture describeth a naturall man, as wanting all his senses, he hath no eies to see, no eares to hear, no heart to un∣derstand, but is wholly dead, and all this is to shew what a wonderfull impotency is in man to help himself spiritually; Now this declareth the necessity of pre∣serving this doctrine of originall corruption clean and sound; for if we be ortho∣dox here, then also we shall hold the truth of God against foe will and the power of nature in divine things; for these two particulars are like Castor and 〈◊〉, they alwaies appear together; and what is the design or Secinians, Papists, and Arminians, either in whole or in part, to deny or extenuate originall sinne? but thereby to make a way to advance their magnificent Diana. their free will to holy things, for they evidently see, if originall sinne be such an universall, deep and inward pollution of the whole soul, even the will as well as other parts, then their doctrine of the power of nature is pulled up by the very root; There∣fore the more fully assure your souls of this truth, by how much the whole body of Divinity depends upon this foundation. Indeed the Scripture is so clear in deba∣sing man as to supernaturalls, and giving all to the grace of God, that we may wonder how this pride should settle it self in mans heart, and that he doth not tremble to speak or write any thing, whereby the grace of God may be diminish∣ed, and man exalted; he that cannot make a white hair black, he that cannot adde one cubit to his stature, will yet think to make a polluted soul holy, and adde many cubits of grace to his spirituall stature.

Fourthly, Our original corruption will yet further appear, If you take notice of that universall ignorance and dullnesse that is upon a mans un∣derstanding, knowing no saving thing about God or Christ, if it be not re∣vealed: Insomuch that the necessity of Scripture-light, of revealed-light to conduct us to heaven, doth without contradiction, prove that by nature; we are (as Paul said) Ephes. 4, darkeness, even darkness it self; Look over the generation of mankind, that are the wisest and most learned, where the light of Gods word hath not shore upon them, Rom. 1. 1. The Apostle there informeth us, that the doctrine of the Gospel was foolishness to them, that professing them∣selves to be wise they became foolish in their imaginations, what Aristotle or Pleto could ever by naturall reason understand any thing of Christ? If then we lay this for a sure foundation, (though some would absurdly question it) That without the knowledge of Christ and faith in him, none can be saved; And that none by nature can come to this knowledge, then it followeth undeniably, that damnable ignorance doth cover the face of our souls, as darkness did the deep at first, That there is a very Chaos in our souls: Oh then that we had knowledge to know our ignorance! Oh that the dark dungeon we are shut up in might not be so pleasing to us! In that the Gospel is called a mystery; In that flesh and blood doth not reveal the things of Christ to us, this sheweth our wretched estate in sin; Adam had knowledge about the meanes rending to everlasting happiness, other∣wise God would have made him imperfect; but now we are ignorant of Christ the way: All that live in the Church, had it not been for revealed light, would have groped in darkness, as we see all Heathens and Pagans do: If therefore you would see, what our natures are of themselves, consider the Sanages, the Indians, the Pagans of the world, who as to any right knowledge of God have little more then bruit beasts; we cannot so well see what mans nature is of it self, who live in the Church, because there is the light of the Gospel, and many times Page  179 godly education, and Christian institution of us while young doth restrain sinne, otherwise if there were not this planting and watering of us, we should not know any more about Christ, then the most rude Barbarian that is; Take off then those ornaments, those supernaturall additaments that God hath put upon us, who live under the Gospel, and then our nakedness and deformity will plainly appear.

Fifthly, The wofull captivity and bondage we are in to Satan by nature, doth also manifest our originall defilement; For were we not cast off by God, did not sinne make us like hell, why could so many legious of Devils dwell in us? Eph 2, The prince of darkness, the god of this world, is said, to rule in the hearts of the disobedient, and such we are all by nature; yea, we are, till regenerated in the snares of the Devil, and taken captive at his will. Therefore when Christ sent his Disciples to preach, he said, He saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven: Thus the Devil hath his throne in all mens hearts, till Christ who is stronger cast him out. It is trne, by wicked and ungodly customes in sinne, The Devil taketh further possession, as we see in Ananias, and in Judas, The Devil is said to enter into him after the eating of the sop, not but that he was before in him, only he had more power and strength over him; Thus he doth possess the souls of all that are born till regenerated, and by frequent actings of sinne, he setleth his king∣dome more firmely.

Lastly, This may fully discover our originall pollution, In that even in respect of naturall things, we are much weakened and debilitated; our understandings are not able to find out even naturall truths; Insomuch that there was a famous sect of the Academicks, who held, That nihil scitur, we know nothing at all. Even Aristotle, who is prophanely made to be by some, the same in naturalls, which Christ was in supernaturall; yea Scaliger calls him, Vltimus Musarum conatus, as if nature her self could not send forth a greater Artist, yet his known saying (That our understandings in respect of the celestiall bodies especially, are but noctuae ad solem, owles to the Sunne,) makes it appear, that we are ignorant of more things, then we know: yea, and which is greatly to be bewailed, The more learning and parts men have had, they have been more mischiefed by them; in∣somuch that meer Ideots, and naturall fooles, have been less wicked then they: so that humane abilities, when polished by arts, have been like wine to a feavou∣rish man, like a sword in a mad mans hand: neither did God ever choose many of the wise men of the world, Austin being filled with humane eloquence, this was a great prejudice to him in imbracing Christianity; he contemned the simplicity of the Scripture, dedignabar esse parvulus, as he confessed: And Scotus, who for his acute understanding, was called, Doctor subtilis, yet the great Historian Jovius, giveth this censure of him, That he was ad ludibrium Theologiae natus, born to make Religion a scorn and a reproach, because he could dispute every point, probably on all sides, And memorable is that of profound Bradwardine, who before he was cordially affected with the grace of God, confesseth, That when he heard Paul's Epistles read, he did dispise them, because Paul had not metaphisicum ingenium, a metaphysicall head. Thus you see that even those poor abilities that with much labour are attained, make us the worse for them.