A treatise of original sin ... proving that it is, by pregnant texts of Scripture vindicated from false glosses
Burgess, Anthony, d. 1664.
Page  185


The various Opinions, Objections, and Doubts, about the manner how the Soul comes to be polluted.


THe next work is to consider of the manner how we come to bear this Image. As for the body, to have a mortal and a corruptible one from Adam is easily to be conceived, because the body is causally and seminally in the first man, so propagated from man to man but this hath deservedly been acknowledged the hardest knot to unty in all this doctrinal truth about original sinne, how the soul can come to be pol∣luted if created from God. In this Argument, The Pelagians did much try∣umph, and Austin was so puzled with it, that he many times confesseth his ignorance at least his doubt in this point, yea (he saith) That he could neither legendo, erando, or ratiocinando, find out how the propagation of original sinne, and the creation of the soul could be defended together, But of this more in its time.


The great Objections that are against asserting the Souls Creation.

IT is certain that here are dangerous rocks on both sides, for if we say, the soul is created, then seeing God cannot but make every thing holy, he cannot make a sinfull soul, how then can it be infected with sinne? Again, if the soul be created, then it was not virtually in Adam, then it could not be said to sinne in him, because it was never in him, for why did not Christ sinne in him, but because he was not seminally in him, and if the soul was never radically in Adam, how can it be pol∣luted, is it just with God to punish that with Adams sinne which never sinned in Adam? If it be said, that the soul when united to the body, doth from that receive infection, as if pure liquour were powred into a stinking vessel, This will not solve but increase the doubt, for a vessel indeed may pollute liquour. because they are both bodies and so act by a corporall contact, but the soul is a spirit, and its a rule (say they) received by all, that a body cannot act upon a spirit, Besides, sinne is proper∣ly in the soul, and must from that be conveyed to the body: The body, whie with∣out a soul, is not capable of sinne no more then a bruit beast; It hath no reason, it is under no law, how then can that communicate sinne to the soul, when it hath none at all it self? Thus you see what strong cords here are, even that a Sampson can hardly break.

Page  186


Objections against holding that the Souls come by Generation, Multi∣plication, &c.

THen on the other side, if you think that the only way to maintain the pro∣pagation of original corruption, is to hold, that the souls are not immedi∣ately created of God, but either by generation or multiplication, or some other way. Then here also are more dangerous rocks, for if we hold this, we seem to contradict some strong Texts of Scripture, that maketh God the immediate giver of the soul. Besides, we must then necessarily make it material yea though they who hold the tra∣duction of the soul will not grant that consequence, yet it cannot be avoided, but what is generable is corruptible, and so the soul must be mortall, and that rule of Aquinas seemeth to carry much evident light with it, Quod dependet a materiâ quoad fieri, dependet quod existere. This rule holds true in every thing else, and why should it be denied about the soul, if the soul in its beginning depends upon the body, it can∣not continue seperate from it, and so be immortal.


THus you see there is a veil upon the face of this Doctrine: But although modesty and sobriety be necessary in this point, as also in the Doctrine of the Trinity and Christs incarnation, yet as in them its necessary to search the Scriptures, and so farre to improve the light shining from them; that we may be able to convince heretical gainsayers; Thus it is also in this truth, so much knowledge as is not forbidden yea as is revealed in the Scripture, let us thankfully acknowledge, and humbly, yet with diligence and constancy improve against those, who by reason of these difficulties would overthrow the fundamental Truth it self, we must not for some seeming Objections forsake the clear Texts of Scripture; It commonly falleth out, that almost in every great and funda∣mental truth in Religion, as the Doctrine of the Trinity, the Doctrine of Justi∣fication. There is some Objection above all the rest, that hath more difficulty in it then ordinary, and so it is here; but let us not be afraid to get Canaan, because of some Anakims in the way.


The severall Wayes that learned Men have gone to remove the aforesaid Difficulties.

TO guid you therefore in this wilderness to it, let us consider what are the several waies that many either of learned or of corrupt judgements have said to the clearing of this, And

First,* There are and have been some in the Church following Origen, who also followed Plato, deriving many opinions from him, who did thus think to make this truth easy, By holding that the souls were created long before the bodies, and that upon their evill, and sinne committed, they were adjudged to be put into bodies, and so from hence it is, that they say, man is so propense to all evill; Therefore they will not say, That the souls of men are either by traduction, or immediate creation and infusion into the body, but that they were created long be∣fore Page  187 the body, and while preexistent before it, they deserved to be put into this dark prison of the body, There was one Vincentius Victor, according to his name, bold and audacious, who disliked Austin for his cunctation and deliberation in the point of the traduction of the soul, which occasioned Austin to write four Books De origine animae, Now this Vincentius he affirmed, That the soul was created before the body, and did deserve to be made part of that man, who is a sin∣ner, yea that it did deserve to be made peccatrix a sinner. Some have also thought, that this was a general received opinion amongst the Jewes; and they proove it from that question proposed to Christ,* concerning the man born blind, yea they were Christs Disciples that did make that question; so that it seemeth they were still infected with that vulgar error, for Joh. 92, They say, Master, who did sinne, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind? They ask, whe∣ther the sinnes of the mans parents, or his own sinnes made him to be born blind, now he could not have any sinnes before he was born, unless his soul did preexist before his body, and it seemeth the Pharisees concluded, that they were his own sinnes, for they say ver. 34. Thou wast altogether born in sinnes. They did not (happily) mean original sinne, for they say sinnes, which must be actual sinnes, either his own, or his parents.

But this opinion is so wicked and absurd, that to name it is enough to refel it; and for this monstrous figment might Origen be called Centaurus, as well as for others. Only two things are to be said to it.

First, If souls for sinnes acted were adjudged to their bodies, how is it that the Scripture giveth that command of, Increase and multiply? how is it that children, and life are made blessings? certainly to be kept in a prison, or adjudg∣ed thereunto is a curse not a blessing, But

Secondly, This opinion doth not at all heal the wound, that the mentioned Objection giveth; for the doubt is how our souls are infected, because of Adam, if they were not causally in him? And this speaketh to another matter, that they sinned before they were incarnated, and therefore have such a troublesome and noisome lodging.

Again this contradicts the Apostle, and doth indeed take away the subject of the question, for Rom. 5. The Apostle maketh Adam's disobedience to be the cause of all the sinne that we have as soon as we are born, It is not then the souls sinning before its union to the body, but Adam the first man, and the common head in whom we all sinned; and seeing the souls of men were 〈◊〉Adam, as their bodies are, the stone still remaineth unremoved.

In the next place, Therefore there are those, of a later hatch, but few, yet would be, if not in the number of the first worthies, yet of the second, Papists I mean; Pighius and Catharinus, against whom the Papists do as largely dispute in this controversie of original sinne almost, as they do against the Protestants. These lay down their opinion in two things.

First,* That the soul of a man cometh into the world pure and holy without any inherent filth of sinne, and that till there be actual sinnes, there is nothing in man but what is of God, and for this they bring all the Arguments, which the Pelagi∣ans of old use to do, But then

In the second place, That they may not be anathematized as pelagianizing. They say, Adams actual disobedience is made our sinne by imputation, so that they deny any original sinne inherent in us, only all the original sinne we have is Adams first sinne of disobedience, which is made ours, hence they deny that every one hath his proper original sinne, as if there were as many original sinnes as persons born; but they say, Adams actual disobedience, being made ours, is the one origi∣nal sinne of all mankind. Thus as one sun serveth to inlighten all the starres, and as some Philosophers say, that there is one intellectus agens, common and uni∣versal to all men, so they make one original sinne to be common to all, and Page  188 this only Adams posterity is guilty of. This opinion they press, as hereby making every thing easie and clear; Then there needeth no disputation about the origi∣nal of the soul, or how it can be infected, if this, be true (say they) then here is no occasion for these intricate disputes about the propagation of original sinne, To which the most learned are never able to give a satisfactory Answer? Al∣though this opinion of imputation doth no waies remove the doubt about the Creation of the soul, for if the soul be by Creation, how cometh Adam's sinne to be imputed to man born of Adam, if his soul was never causally in Adam? so that the difficulty doth still continue as great notwithstanding this opinion. But as this opinion hath some truth in it, so also much more error, and therefore though it be sweet in the mouth, yet it proveth wormewood in the belly: The truth is this, That Adams actual sinne is made ours by imputation; this must be constantly affirmed, because denied by those, who also deny the impu∣tation of Christs righteousness, as if thereby we were justified; we grant there∣fore, that Adams one sinne is made all mankinds: Hence the Apostle doth still speak of one man (though there be many immediate parents) by whom we are not only made sinners, but in whom also we did sinne; and this doth arise wholly from Gods ordination and appointment of it: for although Scoto, and others, do call the Covenant in this respect, fabula, a meer fable, yet Suarez doth confess the necessity of it; and indeed it must be, for though Adam had a thou∣sand times over, wiled that his sinne should be the sinne of all his posterity, yet they could not have been guilty of it, had not that Covenant involved them: so that if the patrones of this imputation had not stayed here, but acknowledged also an inherent pollution, they would not have been so justly censured. But we have already proved by Scripture, reason, and experience, that mankind is in∣volved in an inherent pollution of their own, as well as guilty of imputed sinne: and indeed, how could man be obnoxious to eternal wrath, if there were not damnable matter within, as well as without? can they go to hell with souls pure and holy?

But if this imputation be granted, then the pelagians Objection seemeth to be of force, That as Adams sinne could hurt those that have not actually sinned, so Christs righteousness may profit those that do not believe.

This Objection 〈…〉 rather to be answered, because the Antinomian thinketh from hence, 〈…〉 answerable argument, to prove, that we are justified before we〈…〉 That the elect are accepted of, having their sinnes pardoned, 〈◊〉 they do repent, yea before their sinnes are committed, because we are in 〈◊〉 the second Adam. To this Argument, Austin answered of old the Pelagians, That Christs righteousness did not profit any but believers, and therefore Infants they were saved alienâ side by the faith of their Parents, Even as we are condemned alieno peccato by the sinne of another, although it be so alie∣num, as that it is also proprium; but this is not satisfactory.

Therefore to the Antinomian we answer, That although we are all said to sinne in Adam, and his disobedience is imputed to all, yet the condition, or the medium by which we come to partake of this imputation, is naturall generation; and therefore till we have an actual being, we cannot be said to sinne in him: poten∣tially indeed we may, but natural generation (supposing Gods Covenant as the reason of the conveighance of it in this way, Even as in the state of integrity, the Covenant would have been the cause of transmitting original righteousness to Adams posterity, though natural generation would have been the way of communicating of it) is that only which maketh us actually to participate of his guilt, Therefore it is a feeble thing in a late writer, (Eire) to oppose the natu∣ral generation or discent from Adam, to the Covenant, for both are requisite, the latter as the cause, the former as the medium. And thus it is in regard of Christs righteousness, that is the cause of our justification, in Christ we are made Page  189 righteous, as in Adam sinners, yet the medium to apply this and to make it ours, is faith, so that none are justified till they do believe, as none are condemned for Adams sinne till they have an actual being, faith is the same in a supernatural way to partake of Christ, as natural propagation and discent from Adam is to be made a sinner in him, Although we may say truly that Christ doth profit the non-believers, who belong to grace, for by him they are brought to believe, they are brought out of the bondage of sinne, only Justification and such Gos∣pel-priveledges are actually bestowed upon none till they do beleive, we have not time to proceed in the discovery of other waies and opinions of the learned to answer this doubt, only thus much we have heard, that may make us therefore to bewail original sinne, that we are in such a dark ignorance, that we do but grope about the propagation, had Adam continued in integrity, he would not have only communicated righteousness to his posterity, but they would also have certainly known the manner how, but now we are wholly miserable and know not exactly the manner how, we know little about the soul, so that the soul which only is knowing in man knoweth very little of it self, of its nature, of its original, like the eie that seeth other things but not it self. Let us then be more sollicitous about our going out of the world, then how we came into it. Be more desirous to come out of this pit, then to stand wondring how thou didst fall into it, dost thou not observe more, ready to inquire curiously about the one, then daily to pray about the other.


HItherto the expedients thought upon, to ease that great difficulty about the propagation of original sinne, have appeared very improbable, and in some respect very absurd, like unwise Chyrurgians, not healing, but vexing the wound worse: We shall now proceed to some more probable ones, and dispatch them with convenient speed, lest you should think these are such 〈◊〉 upon which no grapes can grow, of more difficulty then usefulness; although you shall find, that even in this wilderness we may meet with Mona; The truth discussed will not only be for doctrinal Information, 〈◊〉 doctrinate Applica∣tion: The next therefore that I shall instance in, is 〈…〉 of those who hold, The soul is not by the immediate Creation of God, but〈◊〉, or mul∣tiplication; and this they are so confident in, That they 〈◊〉 Doctrine of original corruption cannot be maintained, unless we affirme so: Thus you heard Austin affirming, That neither by reading, praier, or disputing could he find out, how one could be defended without the other, It is true Bellermine saith,

That the opinion of the traduction of the soul from the parents doth no way at all either advantage, or incommodate the Doctrine of original sinne; but that the difficulty will still be as great:
so also Arminius (Thes. pri. de primo peccato.) maketh the dispute about the original of the soul, in the matter of the propagation of this hereditary defilement, unusefull and needless; But certainly, the clearing of the souls original is very influential into this point, especially because we are forced to it by the adversaries of this truth; for it seemeth very probable, that Austin would readily have believed the immediate creation of every of every soul, but that the dispute about original corruption was the remora: for he regarded not any other Objection. This opinion then, That the soul cometh originally from the parents; as well as the body, hath had its grave, and learned abettors. Tertullian of old, who wrote a book (De animâ); And as for Austin, it is true, he did not defend this opinion, neither did he deny it, he wrote four Books, (De origine animae,) against one Vincentius Victor, who blamed Austin for his hesitancy in this point; and in those Austin doth still persist in the same doubt, and doth answer those Page  190 Arguments, which are usually brought out of the Scripture, yet so as that he doth not determine against the souls Creation, but desired stronger Arguments, and therefore doth rebuke that young man for his bold presumption, in deter∣mining that controversie so confidently. Austin also (in his tenth Book upon Genesis ad literam) doth shew the same doubting mind within him, as also (in his Epistle to Hierom) wholly about the original of the soul, wherein he doth ear∣nestly desire of Hierom, that he would teach him and satisfie him in this point by strong and sure evidence, likewise he maketh the original of the so••, the subject of this Epistle to Optatus. It appeareth that Austin did more incline to hold the Creation of the soul, therefore he saith to Hierom, That although none can by wishing make a thing to be true, yet if it could he would by wishing have the Do∣ctrine of the Creation of the soul to be the truth: No wonder that Austin thus doubted, seeing Hierom saith, the greatest part of the western Doctors were for the traduction of the soul; But the eastern the greek Fathers, they did gene∣rally hold, the immediate Creation of it. In the latter daies of the Church, since the Reformation, there have also been eminent and able Divines, asserting the traduction of the soul from the parents, and thereby original sinne: Vostius men∣tioneth Johnius, and Marnixius: The Lutheran Divines seem generally to be of this opinion as appeareth by Brechword and Meisner; The latter whereof rela∣teth of Luther, that he should say, He would never trouble the Church about any opinion about the original of the soul, yet his private opinion was, that it was not by Creation; and they do pitch on this, as holding it most convenient to remove all doubts; although Meisner confesseth, there are even unanswerable Objecti∣ons, if they do hold the generation of it from the parents; But I must tell you, that those, who affirm the soul to be from the parents, as well as the body, differ amongst themselves, for some say, it is by eduction out of the matter, that it is generated, as the body: Others, they say, by traduction, that the soul is not corporally begotten, but the parents soul doth multiply the infants soul; even (say they) as you see one candle doth inlighten another.

In the confession of the Aethiopick Faith, as Hornebeck (summa Cont. de Gracis) relateth, it is affirmed, Omnes sine ullâ hesitantiâ in hâc sententiâ versa∣mur, &c. All of us are in this opinion without any hesitancy, that all our souls come of Adam, as well as our flesh, and that we are all Adam's seed both in flesh, and soul.