« PreviousContinue »
parents; for faith, though it takes away the personal imputation of guilt, does not altogether remove indwelling sin. It is not therefore man as a regenerate being, but man in his animal capacity, that propagates his kind; as seed, though cleared from the chaff and stubble, produces not only the ear or grain, but also the stalk and husk. Christ alone was exempt from this contagion, being born by supernatural generation, although descended from Adam. Heb. vii. 26. holy, undefiled."
Some contend that this original sin is specially guiltiness;" but guiltiness is not so properly sin, as the imputation of sin, which is also called the judgement of God, (Rom. i. 32. "who knowing the judgement of God") whereby sinners are accounted worthy of death, and become ódio, that is, guilty before God," Rom iii. 19. and "are under sin," v. 9. Thus our first parents, in whom, as above observed, there could have been no original sin, were involved in guiltiness immediately upon their fall; and their posterity, before original sin was yet engendered, were involved in the same guiltiness in Adam; besides, guiltiness is taken away in those who are regenerate, while original sin remains.
Others define original sin to be the loss of original righteous ness, and the corruption of the whole mind.1 But before this loss can be attributed to us, it must be attributed to our first parents, to whom, as was argued before, original sin could not attach; in them therefore it was what is called actual sin, which these divines themselves distinguish from original sin. At any rate it was the consequence of sin, rather than sin itself; or if it were sin, it was a sin of ignorance; for they expected nothing less than that they should lose any good by eating the fruit, or suffer harm in any way whatever. I shall therefore consider this loss of original righteousness in the following chapter,
9 Concupiscentia est reatus originalis peccati.' August. in libro Retractationum.
1 Peccatum originis varie admodum definitur a theologis, ita ut quid per ipsum intelligant vix satis capi possit. Scholastici dicunt vulgo, esse carentiam justitiæ originalis debitæ inesse. Sed Protestantes non acquiescunt in hac definitione, nec etiam inter se bene consentiunt.' Curcell. Dissertatio secunda de Peccato Originis, 5. See Calvin's Objections to this Definition, Institut. II. 1, 8. Compare also Thomas Aquinas, 12 Qu. 82, Art. 1. Concl.:
under the head of punishment, rather than in the present, which relates to sin.
The second thing in sin, after evil concupiscence, is the crime itself, or the act of sinning, which is commonly called Actual Sin. This may be incurred, not only by actions commonly so called, but also by words and thoughts, and even by the omission of good actions.
It is called Actual Sin, not that sin is properly an action, for in reality it implies defect; but because it commonly consists in some act. For every act is in itself good; it is only its irregularity, or deviation from the line of right, which properly speaking is evil. Wherefore the act itself is not the matter of which sin consists, but only the Toxɛíμsvov or subject in which it is committed.
By words. Matt. xii. 36. " every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof." xv. 11. "that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man."
By thoughts. Exod. xx. 17. " thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house-.' Psa. vii. 14. " behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood." Prov. xxiv. 8. "he that deviseth to do evil-." Jer. xvii. 9. "the heart is deceitful above all things,' &c. Matt. v. 28. "he hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." xv. 19. "out of the heart proceed evil thoughts." 1 John iii. 15. "whoso hateth his brother is a murderer." By omission. Matt. xii. 30. "he that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad." See also Luke xi. 23. and vi. 9. where to omit saving the life of a man is accounted the same as to destroy it. Matt. xxv. 42. "I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat." James iv. 17. "to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."
All sins however are not, as the Stoics maintained, of equal magnitude. Ezek. v. 6. "she hath changed my judgements
2 Sins are not equal, but greater or less in their principle, as well as in their event. It was one of the errors of Jovinian, which he learned from the school of the Stoics, that all sins are alike grievous:
Cum dicas esse pares res
Furta latrociniis, et magnis parva mineris
into wickedness more than the nations." viii. 15. shalt see greater abominations than these." John xix. 11. "he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin." This inequality arises from the various circumstances of person, place, time, and the like. Isai. xxvi. 10. " in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly."
The distinction between mortal and venial sin3 will come more properly under consideration in another place. In the mean time it is certain, that even the least sin renders the sinner obnoxious to condemnation. Luke xvi. 10. "he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much.
CHAP. XII.-OF THE PUNISHMENT OF SIN.
THUS far of Sin. After sin came death, as the calamity or punishment consequent upon it. Gen. ii. 17. "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Rom. v. 12. "death entered by sin." vi. 23. "the wages of sin is death." vii. 5. "the motions of sins did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.”
Under the head of death, in Scripture, all evils whatever,* together with every thing which in its consequences tends to death, must be understood as comprehended; for mere bodily death, as it is called, did not follow the sin of Adam on the self-same day, as God had threatened."
See also Cicero's third paradox, ὅτι ἴσα τά ἁμαρτήματα καὶ τὰ κατορθώ. μara; and his oration pro L. Murena: omnia peccata esse paria; omne delictum scelus esse nefarium; nec minus delinquere eum, qui gallum gallinaceum, cum opus non fuerit, quam eum qui patrem suffocaverit.' * See 1 John iv. 17. ἔστιν ἁμαρτία οὐ πρὸς θάνατον.
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Paradise Lost, I. 1.
5 The divine denunciation is interpreted in the same sense in Paradise Lost:
my sole command
From that day mortal; and this happy state
Hence divines, not inappropriately, reckon up four several degrees of death. The first, as before said, comprehends
ALL THOSE EVILS WHICH LEAD TO DEATH, AND WHICH IT IS
FALL OF MAN, the most important of which I proceed to
The second degree of death is called SPIRITUAL DEATH; by which is meant the loss of divine grace, and that of innate
6 Wollebius, who was one of the theologians from whose works Milton compiled a system of divinity for the use of his pupils, enumerates the same four degrees of death, Book I. Chap. 12.
innocence, that as a veil
Had shadow'd them from knowing ill, was gone,
Paradise Lost, IX, 154.
righteousness, wherein man in the beginning lived unto God.
This death consists, first, in the loss, or at least in the obscuration to a great extent of that right reason which enabled man to discern the chief good, and in which consisted as it were the life of the understanding. Eph. iv. 18. "having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them." v. 8. "ye were sometimes darkness." John i. v. "the darkness comprehended it not." Jer. vi. 10. "they cannot hearken.' John viii. 43. "ye cannot hear my word." 1 Cor. ii. 14. "the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God." 2 Cor. iii. 5. "not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to think anything as of ourselves." iv. 4. "the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not." Col. i. 13. " who hath delivered us from the power of darkness." It consists, secondly, in that deprivation of righteousness and liberty to do good, and in that slavish subjection to sin and the devil, which constitutes, as it were, the death of the will. John viii. 34. "whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin." All have committed sin in Adam; therefore all are born servants of sin. Rom. vii. 14. "sold under sin." viii. 3. "what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh." v. 7. "it is not subject unto the law of God, neither indeed can be." vi. 16, 17. "his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death," &c. Philipp. iii. 19. "whose god is their .belly." Acts xxvi. 18. "from the power of Satan." 2 Tim. ii. 26. "out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will." Eph. ii. 2. " the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience."
Lastly, sin is its own
punishment, and produces, in its natural consequences, the death of the spiritual life: more especially gross and habitual sin. Rom. i. 26. "for this cause God gave them up unto vile affections." The reason of this is evident; for in pro