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Consideration of the Objections against the former Doctrine. 47. The first is, “ Every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart is only evil continually".” I answer, it is true, they were so, but it was their own fault, not Adam's; for so it is said expressly, “ All flesh hath corrupted his way upon the earth, and the earth was filled with violence?.” 2. If this corruption had been natural and unavoidable, why did God punish all the world for it, except eight persons ? Why did he punish those that could not help it? and why did others escape that were equally guilty? Is not this a respect of persons, and partiality to some, and iniquity towards all? which far be it from the Judge of all the world. 3. God might as well have punished all the world, for sleeping once in a day, or for being hungry, as for sinning, if so to do be natural and unavoidable. 4. If God in these words complained of their natural and original corruption, why did he but then, as if it were a new thing, complain of it, and repent that he had made man, since he proved so bad ? 5. This malice and corruption were such, that God did send Noah, the preacher of righteousness, to draw the world from it. But no man supposes, that it was fit to send a preacher to dehort them from being guilty of original sin. Therefore it was good counsel;
Denique te ipsum
Neglectis arenda filix innascitur agris ). Blame not nature, but thy own evil customs; for thy neglect of thy fields will make fern and thistles to grow. It is not only because the ground is accursed, but because it is neg. lected, that it bears thorns. “Errasti, si existimas nobiscum vitia nasci: supervenerunt; ingesta sunt,” said Seneca': “Thou art deceived, if thou thinkest that vices are born with us. No, they are superinduced, and come in upon us afterward.”
48. And by this we may the better understand the fol
lowing words; "I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake ; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth".” Concerning which, note, that these words are not two sentences. For this is ot the reason why God gave over smiting, because man was corrupt from his youth.' For if this had been the reason, it would have come to pass, that the same cause which moved God to smite, would also move him to forbear, which were a strange economy. The words therefore are not a reason of his forbearing, but an aggravation of his kindness; as if he had said, Though man be continually evil, yet I will not, for all that, any more drown the world for man's being so evil: and so the Hebrews notę that the particle , sometimes signifies ‘ although.'
49. But the great outcry in this question is upon confidence of the words of David; “Behold, I was shapen in wickedness, and in sin hath my mother conceived me b.” To which I answer, that the words are a Hebraism, and signify nothing but an aggrandation of his sinfulness, and are in tended for a high expression, meaning that 'I am wholly and entirely wicked.' For the verification of which exposition, there are divers parallel places in the Holy Scriptures. “Thou wert my hope, when I hanged yet upon my mother's breasts ;" and, “ The ungodly are froward even from their mother's womb; as soon as they be born, they go astray, and speak lies;" which, because it cannot be true in the letter, must be an idiotism, or propriety of phrase, apt to explicate the other, and signify only a ready, a prompt, a great, and universal wickedness. The like to this is that saying of the Phari, sees; “Thou wert altogether born in sin, and dost thou teach use?” which phrase and manner of speaking, being plainly a reproach of the poor blind man and a disparagement of him, did mean only to call him a very wicked person, but not that he had derived his sin originally, and from his birth; for that had been their own case as much as his; and therefore St. Chrysostom explaining this phrase, says, 'Doave theyov, tk πρώτης ηλικίας εν αμαρτίαις ει συ, «It is as if they should say, Thou hast been a sinner all thy life-time.” To the same sense are those words of Job; "I have guided her (the widow) from my mother's womb d.” And in this expression and severity:
of hyperbole it is, that God aggravated the sins of his people; “Thou wast called a transgressor from the wombe. And this way of expressing a great state of misery we find used among the heathen writers : for so Seneca brings in Edipus complaining;
Decreta inors esi. l'ata quis tam tristia
Sed numquid et peccavit ? Something like St. Bernard's, “Damnatus antequam natus," “I was condemned before I was born;' dead before I was alive; and death seized upon me in my mother's womb. Somebody brought in a hasty and a too forward death, but did he sin also ?" An expression not unlike this we have in Lucian ; Συγγίνωσκέ μοι μη πεφυκότι κακώ γίνεσθαι; «Pardon me that I was not born wicked," or born to be wicked.' 2. If David had meant it literally, it had not signified that himself was born in original sin, but that his father and mother sinned when they begat him: which the eldest son that he begat of Bathsheba, for aught I know, might have said truer than he in this sense. And this is the exposition of Clemens Alexandrinus , save only that by my mother'he understands «Ενα: Και ει εν αμαρτία συνειλήφθη, άλλ' ουκ αυτός εν αμαρτία.
Though he was conceived in sin, yet he was not in the sin;" 'peccatrix concepit, sed non peccatorem ;' she sinned in the conception, not David. And in the following words he speaks home to the main article. Λεγέτωσαν ημίν, που επέρνευσεν το γεννηθέν παιδίον; ή πώς υπό την του Αδάμ υποπέπτωκεν αραν το μηδέν ενέργησαν; «Let them tell us where an infant did fornicate, or how he, who had done nothing, could fall under the curse of Adam ;” meaning, so as to deserve the same evil that he did. 3. If it did relate to his own person, he might mean that he was begotten with that sanguine disposition, and libidinous temper, that was the original of his vile adultery: and then, though David said this truly of himself, yet it is not true of all, not of those whose temper is phlegmatic and inactive. 4. If David had meant this of bim
• Isa. xlviii. 8.
i Phoeniss. 248. Schröder. p. 199. & Lib. 3. Strom. extrom.
self, and that in regard of original sin, this had been so far from being a penitential expression, or a confessing of his sin, that it had been a plain accusation of God, and an excusing of himself. As if he had said, O Lord, I confess I have sinned in this horrible murder and adultery; but thou, O God, knowest how it comes to pass, even by that fatal punishment, which thou didst, for the sin of Adam, inflict on me and all mankind above three thousand years before I was born, thereby making me to fall into so horrible corruption of nature, that unless thou didst irresistibly force me from it, I cannot abstain from any sin, being most naturally inclined to all. In this sinfulness hath my mother conceived me, and that hath produced in me this sad effect.'—Who would suppose
David to make such a confession, or in his sorrow to hope for pardon for upbraiding not his own folly, but the decrees of God? 5. But that David thought nothing of this, or any thing like it, we may understand by the preceding words, which are as a preface to these in the objection. “Against thee only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight, that thou mightest be justified in thy saying, and clear when thou art judged.” He that thus acquits God, cannot easily be supposed, in the very next breath, so fiercely to accuse him. 6. To which also add the following words, which are a sufficient reproof of all strange senses in the other; “ In sin hath my mother conceived me. But lo, thou requirest truth in the inward parts;" as if he had said, “Though I am so wicked, yet thy laws are good, and I therefore so much the worse, because I am contrary to thy laws: they require truth and sincerity in the soul, but I am false and perfidious.'—But if this had been natural for him so to be, and unavoidable, God, who knew it perfectly well, would have expected nothing else of bim. For he will not require of a stone to speak, nor of fire to be cold, unless himself be pleased to work a miracle to have them so.
50. But St. Paulaffirms, that, "by nature we were the children of wrath.'. True, we were so, when we were dead in sins, and before we were quickened by the Spirit of life and grace. We were so ; now we are not. We wer o by our own unworthiness and filthy conversation; now we being regenerated by the Spirit of holiness, we are alive unto God,
1 Ephes. il. 2, 3.
and no longer heirs of wrath. This therefore, as appears by the discourse of St. Paul, relates not to our original sin, but to the actual; and of this sense of the word 'nature,' in the matter of sinning, we have Justin Martyr, or whoever is the author of the questions and answers 'ad orthodoxos' to be witness': for, answering those words of Scripture, there is not any one clean who is born of a woman,' and there is none begotten who hath not committed sin: he says, their meaning cannot extend to Christ, for he was not TEDUKWG auaprávelv, “born to sin;" but he is "natura ad peccandum natus,” Tepvκώς αμαρτάνειν, και κατά την αυθαίρετον προαίρεσιν άγων εαυτόν εις το πράττειν ά βούλεται είτε αγαθά, είτε φαύλα, “by nature born to sin, who by the choice of his own will is uthor to himself to do what he list, whether it be good or evil.” The following words are eaten out by time; but upon this ground whatever he said of infants, must needs have been to better purposes than is usually spoken of in this article. 2. Heirs of wrath, signifies persons liable to punishment, heirs of death. It is a usual expression among the Hebrews. So 'sons of death' in the Holy Scriptures are those that deserve death, or are condemned to die. Thus Judas Iscariot is called, the son of perdition *;' and so is that saying of David to Nathan, “The man that hath done this, shall surely die!' In the Hebrew it is, “he is the son of death. And so were those Ephesians,
children’or sons of wrath' before their conversion; that is, they had deserved death. 3. Byʻnature' is here most likely to be meant that which Galen calls púois ŠTÍKTITOS, 'an acquisite nature, that is, rà n9n, 'customs' and evil habits. And so Suidas expounds the word in this very place; not only upon the account of grammar, and the use of the word in the best authors, but also upon an excellent reason. His words are these: "Οταν δε λέγει ο Απόστολος, και ήμεν τέκνα φύσει οργής, ως και οι λοιποί, ού κατά τούτο το σημαινόμενον της φύσεως λέγει: επεί του ποιήσαντος αν ήν το έγκλημα. Αλλά την έμμονον και κακίστην διάθεσιν, και χρονίαν και πονηραν συνήθειαν. “When the Apostle says, we were by nature children of wrath, he means not that which is the usual signification of nature, for then it were not their fault, but the fault of him that made them such; but it means an abiding and vile babit, a wicked and a lasting custom.” Kai yào rò cillouévov Quæst. 88. k John, xvii. 12.
1 2 Sam. xii. 5.