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Chapter 12 - Of Original Sin

The Order of Salvation and Damnation by William Perkins (1558-1602)

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Election is God’s decree “whereby on his own free will, he hath ordained certain men to salvation, to the praise of the glory of his grace.” Reprobation is “that part of predestination, whereby God, according to the most free and just purpose of his will, hath determined to reject certain men unto eternal destruction, and misery, and that to the praise of his justice.”

Chapter 12 – Of Original Sin

Out of the former transgression ariseth another, namely Original sin, which is corruption engendered in our first conception, whereby every faculty of the soul and body is prone and disposed to evil. Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Gen. 6:5, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Titus 3:3, “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” Heb. 12:1, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”

By this we see, that sin is not a corruption of man’s substance, but only of faculties: otherwise neither could men’s souls be immortal, nor Christ take upon him man’s nature.

All Adam’s posterity is equally partaker of this corruption: the reason why it sheweth not itself equally in all, is because some have the Spirit of sanctification, some the spirit of only to bridle corruption, some neither.

The propagation of sin, from the parents to the children, is either because the soul is infected by the contagion of the body, as a good ointment by a faulty vessel; or because God, in the very moment of creation and infusion of souls into infants, doth utterly forsake them. For as Adam received the image of God, both for himself and others, so did he lose it for himself and others.

But whereas the propagation of sin is as a common fire in a town, men are not so much to search how it came, as to be careful how to extinguish it.

That we may the better know original sin in the several faculties of man’s nature, three circumstances must be considered: 1) How much of God’s image we yet retain, 2) How much sin man received from Adam, and 3) The increase thereof afterwards.

I. In the mind. The remnant of God’s image is certain notion concerning good and evil as, that there is a God, and that the same God punisheth transgressions that there is an everlasting life, that we must reverence our superiors, and not harm our neighbors. But even these notions, they are both general and corrupt, and have none other use, but to bereave man of all excuse before God’s judgment seat. Rom. 1:19-20, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”

Men’s minds received from Adam: 1) Ignorance, namely a want, or rather a deprivation of knowledge in the things of God, whether they concern His sincere worship, or eternal happiness. 1 Cor. 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Rom. 8:7, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”

II. Impotency, whereby the mind of itself is unable to understand spiritual things, though they be taught. Luke 24:25, “Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” 2 Cor. 3:5, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.”

III. Vanity, in that the mind thinketh falsehood truth, and truth falsehood. Eph. 4:17, “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind.” 1 Cor. 1:21, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Verse 23, “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” Prov. 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

IV. A natural inclination only to conceive and desire the thing which is evil. Gen. 6:5, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Jer. 4:22, “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.”

Hence it is apparent, that the original, and as I may say, the matter of all heresies, is naturally engrafted into men’s nature. This is worthy the observation of students in divinity.

The increase of sin in the understanding is 1) a reprobate sense, when God withdraweth the light of nature. John 12:40, “He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” Rom. 1:28, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” 2) The Spirit of Slumber. Rom. 11:8, “(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.” 3) A spiritual drunkenness, Isa. 29:9, “Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.” 4) Strong delusions. 2 Thess. 2:11, “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”

The remnant of God’s image in the conscience, is an observing and watchful power, like the eye of a keeper, reserved in a man partly to reprove, partly to repress the unbridled course of his affections. Rom. 2:15, “Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.”

That which the conscience has received of Adam, is the impureness thereof. Titus 1:15, “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” This impurity hath three affects: the first, is to excite sin, as if a man serve God outwardly, he will excuse and cloak his inward impiety. Mark 10:19-20, “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.” Again, it excuseth intents not warranted in God’s word, 1 Chr. 13:9, “And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled.”

The second is to accuse and terrify for doing good. This we may see in superstitions and idolaters, who are grieved when they omit to perform counterfeit and idolatrous worship to their gods. Col. 2:21-22, “(Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?” Isa. 29:13, “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.”

The third, is to accuse and terrify for sin. Gen. 50:15, “And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.” John 8:9, “And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.” 1 John 3:20, “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” Though the conscience shall accuse a man truly, yet that will not argue any holiness in it: which appeareth in that Adam in his innocencey had a good, yet no accursing conscience.

Impureness increased in the conscience, is first such a senseless numbness, as it can hardly accuse a man of sin. Eph. 4:19, “Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” 1 Tim. 4:2, “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” 1 Sam. 25:37, “But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone.”

II. Some grievous horror, and terror of the conscience. Gen. 4:14, “Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.” and verse 13, “And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.” The symptoms of the disease, are blasphemies, trembling of body, fearful dreams. Acts 24:26, “He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.” Dan. 5:6, “Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.”

In the will, the remnant of God’s image is a free choice. First, in every natural action, belonging to each living creature, as to nourish to engender, to move, to perceive. Secondly, in every human action, that is, such as belonging to all men and therefore man hath freewill in outward actions, whether they concern manners, a family, or the common wealth, albeit, both in the choice and refusal of them, it be very weak. Rom. 2:14, “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves.”

The will received.

I. An impotency whereby it cannot will, or so much as lust after that, which is indeed good: that is, which may please and be acceptable to God. 1 Cor. 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Rom. 5:6, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” 2 Tim. 2:26, “And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” Phil. 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

II. And inward rebellion, whereby it utterly abhoreth that which is good, desiring and willing that alone which is evil.

By this it appeareth, that the will is no agent, but a mere patient in the first act of conversion to God; and that by itself can neither begin that conversion, or any other inward and sound obedience due to God’s Law.

That which the affections receive is a disorder by which they therefore are not well affected, because they eschew that which is good, and pursue that which is evil. Gal. 5:24, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Rom. 1:26, “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature.” 1 Kings 22:8, “And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.” And 21:4, “And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.”

That which the body hath received is 1) fitness to begin sin. This doth the body in transporting all objects and occasions of sin to the soul. Gen 3:6, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” 2) A fitness to execute sin, so soon as the heart hath begun it. Rom. 6:13, “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”

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