top of page

Wendelin's "Christian Theology": Doctrine of Original Sin, Part 2

THESIS VII:  The proximate efficient, and the form, of this inherent corruption are to be considered.


THESIS VIII:  The proximate efficient is the generation of offspring from corrupt parents.  Whence, of what sort is the cause, of that sort is the effect:  of what sort is the tree, of that sort is the fruit.

EXPLANATION:  I.  Scripture indicates this cause, when it says, in sin are we conceived, Psalm 51:5.  A clean thing is not able to be brought out of an unclean, Job 14:4.  We are transgressors from the womb, Isaiah 48:8.  A corrupt tree, says Christ, is not able to bring forth good fruit, Matthew 7:18.  But our natural parents are corrupt trees; they are not able, therefore, to beget anything other than bad fruit, that is, vicious offspring.

II.  Exception is taken to the contrary opinion:

(1.)  Many parents are holy through the grace of regeneration.  Therefore, they also beget holy children, and accordingly free from original sin.

Response:  I deny the consequence.  The reason for my denial is, that the generation of offspring is not done according to the grace of regeneration, but according to nature, which even in the holy is still corrupt:  for, in this life regeneration does not completely expunge from us original sin.

(2.)  In Romans 11:16 the Apostle teaches that from a holy root, that is, holy parents, branches proceed, that is, holy children.  Therefore, he indicates that the children of saints are born without original sin.

The rationale of the consequencethat holiness does not consist with original sin.

Response:  I deny the consequence.  The reason for my denial is, that in the passage alleged by the holiness of the branches is not understood the holiness of regeneration; which is a habit infused or acquired by grace, which by the force of natural generation does not pass to posterity:  but rather the holiness of the covenant, which is the right of the citizen of God, which by the force of the divine promise children have in common with their parents, in such a way that all the children born of the citizens and confederates of the Church are also reckoned as confederates and citizens of the Church:  just as in a republic a consul is not born of a consul; but a citizen is born of a citizen.

But this external and federal holiness is not inconsistent with original sin, as if one and the same man is not able to be a citizen of the Church and stained with original sin at the same time:  since not even the holiness of regeneration in this life excludes completely original sin.

In the same sense the children of saints are called holy, 1 Corinthians 7:14.  Because in the covenant of God they are, which was settled, not only with the parents, but also with their children and posterity.  I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed, Genesis 17:7.  Whence also the Israelites, who in the time of Paul were opposing Christ, are called holy, because convenanted, Romans 11.  See Exercitations 37, 38.


THESIS IX:   The Form of this corruption consists in blindness of mind, and depravity of the will and appetite, arising from the first.


THESIS X:  Blindness of mind is that that whereby, concerning things purely divine, pertaining to salvation, man by nature, apart from special grace, knows or is able to know nothing:  but a little concerning things natural or civil.

EXPLANATION:  I.  That man by his nature, apart from special illumination, concerning things purely divine, pertaining to salvation, understands nothing, Paul testifies, 1 Corinthians 2:14, the animal man is not capable of those things that are of the Spirit of God:  for they are foolishness to him, neither is he able to know them.  Whence Scripture so often impugns the blindness of men.

Experience testifies to the same.  For, when among the Gentiles, even the most learned, so many erroneous and absurd opinions and doubt concerning God and divine providence, except from this natural blindness of mind?

II.  Exception is taken here:

But extraordinary knowledge of God and divine properties was among many Gentiles:  whence arose natural Theology, without special revelation delivered in the word.

Response:  1.  To the antecedent:  Of divine things, that is, the mysteries of salvation, among the Gentiles there was no knowledge without revelation:  even if not a few things became known to them concerning God in general:  as Paul also testifies in Romans 1; 2.

2.  The consequence is also denied, because that extraordinary knowledge is not principally from nature, but from special grace, which not even to the Gentiles is denied:  although grace sufficient for salvation does not ordinarily fall to them.

III.  Just how meager is our knowledge in natural things, the so various and contrary sects of the Philosophers abundantly testify, which by their contrary dogmas are at variance almost infinitely.  Besides the substantial form of man alone, which is the rational soul, the form of no natural body is known to the Philosophers:  whence in definitions, in the place of substantial forms, they are compelled apply properties meeting the senses.

The natural blindness of men is the same concerning things civil.  Whence so monstrous laws and customs occur in the republics of the Gentiles.


THESIS XI:  The depravity of the will and appetite (which is elsewhere called concupiscence) is formally an aversion to the good, and materially an inclination to moral evil.

EXPLANATION:  I.  Concerning this depravity Scripture testifies:  Genesis 6:5; 8:21, man’s heart is depraved from depraved from his youth.  Romans 8:7, the understanding of the flesh (that is, whatever man has a sense of, and appetite for, in moral matter, apart from the grace of God) is enmity against God (that is, is contrary to God).  Ephesians 2:3, we were by nature children of wrath.  Romans 3:10-12, there is none righteous, no, not one:  there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God:  all have gone out of the way, are together become unprofitable:  there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

II.  Concerning the nature of original sin, there are three distinct opinion belonging to the Theologians.  First is that of Flacius,[1] who contends that original sin has corrupted the very substance of man.  Second is that of some more recent men, who think that original sin is an accidental property, not only privative, but also positive.  Third is that of others, who affirm that the same is privative only.

The opinion of Flacius is obviously absurd and monstrous:  for it would follow that whatever things are able to be said of corrupt man are able to be said of sin per se; and so sin is chosen unto eternal life; sin is loved by God, in such a way that He gave His Son unto death for it; sin is regenerated, is justified, is granted faith, consists in soul and body, etc.:  than which nothing more absurd is able to be thought.  Scripture also expressly distinguishes sin from the nature of man, when it says, that it dwelleth in man’s nature, Romans 7:20; that it is a defect of man, to be taken off of men, and other similar things.  This absurd dogma of Flacius was ridiculed of old by Plutarch, in his book περὶ δεισιδαιμονίας, in the beginning:  οἴονταί τινες εἶναι σῶμα τὴν ἀρετὴν καὶ κακὶαν.  αἰσχρὸν ἴσως τὸ ἀγνόημα, θρήνων δὲ καὶ ὀδυρμῶν οὐκ ἄξιον, that is, some think that the body is virtue and vice, or sin:  it is a shameful ignorance, unworthy of tears and morning.

III.  Flacius takes exception:

(1.)  Scripture expresses sin with names signifying substance, when it calls it a stony and carnal heart.

Therefore, it is substance.

Response:  The consequence is denied:  seeing that those appellations are improper:  whereby is denoted not so much the formal of sin, but its subject, in which sin inheres:  and that by metonymy of subject.

(2.)  The substance of man was corrupted through the sin of Adam.

Therefore, another is generated, which is called original sin.

The rationale of the consequencethat the corruption of the one is the generation of the other.

Response:  The term corruption is ambiguous:  for, either is is taken properly, concerning a substantial mutation, opposed to generation properly so called:  or concerning an accidental mutation, which we call a corrupting alteration.  In the former sense the antecedent is false:  for fallen Adam does not cease to be Adam or man.  In the latter sense there is no consequence, and no proof:  for the generation of another substance does not immediately follow a corrupting alteration alone.

(3.)  Original sin is the human heart.

Therefore, it is substance.

The antecedent is proven:  because original sin produces all others sins, which is also said of the human heart, Matthew 15:19.

Response:  The antecedent is denied; the proof is inconsequent.  For, all other sins are from the heart and from original sin, but not in the same way:  they are from the heart as from the principal cause:  they are from original sin as the instrumental cause:  for the heart is infected with original sin, and perpetrates all other sins through original sin.

IV.  That original sin, considered formally and in abstract, is privation, both the second and third opinions grant, and so today in the Church it is generally conceded.  But, whether in its formal conception it includes something positive, is controverted.

The more accurate Theologians uphold the Negative, with the following arguments:

(1.)  Because it is evil.  But all moral evil, insofar as it is evil, is something privative.

(2.)  Because it has no manner of being:  For all being is from God.  But sin, as sin, is not from God.

(3.)  Because it is ἀνομία/lawlessness.  But ἀνομία/lawlessness, as such, is only the privation of righteousness.

(4.)  Because it is not good.  But whatever has a manner of positive being is good.

V.  Exception is taken to the contrary opinion.

(1.)  Original sin is contrarily opposed to original righteousness.

Therefore, it is also something positive.

The rationale of the consequencethat contrary opposition is between positive beings.

Response:  The antecedent, concerning original sin considered formally, is denied.  Those that vulgarly teach that virtue is contrarily opposed to vice, take vice, not in the abstract, but in the concrete, for a vicious habit or action.

(2.)  Original sin is not only aversion from the good:  but also inclination to evil.

Therefore, it is something, not only privative, but also positive.

Response:  The antecedent is distinguished.  Those that say that original sin is an inclination to evil or concupiscence, speak of sin in the concrete, that is, concerning vicious inclination, but not in the abstract, concerning vice or derangement of inclination:  so also actual sin is commonly said to be a vicious action:  not that it is formally an action, but that it is in the action, or vice belongs to the action.

(3.)  From original sin flow positive/actual effects, namely, actual sins.

Therefore, original sin itself is also something positive.

Response:  The antecedent concerning original and actual sin, taken in the abstract and formally, is false.  From original sin, insofar as it is sin, is not a positive effect, as flowing forth from the act of sin; neither is actual sin, as such, something positive.

VI.  That this hereditary evil, or fall, inhering in all from their very birth, is sin properly so called, is proven:

(1.)  Because it opposes the law of God, which requires in man the perfect image of God:  the destruction of which is original sin.  Now, in particular, evil concupiscence, or the inclination to illict things, is prohibited by the law; thou shalt not covet.  Whence Paul, Romans 7:7, I had not known sin, but by the law:  for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

(2.)  Because it renders us liable to the divine wrath.  Ephesians 2:3, where we are said to be by nature children of wrath.

(3.)  Because fault is found with it in Scripture.  Genesis 6:5; 8:21, the heart of man is depraved from his youth.  Isaiah 48:8, I knew that thou wast called a transgressor from the womb.  Let these passages be considered, Romans 8:3; 3:10-12; 5:12-21.

(4.)  Because many infants die in the womb.  But no one dies, except a sinner:  for the wages of sin is death, that is, the punishment due to sin, Romans 6:23.

(5.)  Because baptism is also to be applied to infants:  but only sinners have need of this:  whence baptism is said to be administered and received for the remission of sins, Acts 2:38, and is called the washing of regeneration, Titus 3:5.

VII.  The Pelagians and the Photinians take exception to the contrary opinion.

(1.)  All sin is voluntary fault.

But a hereditary blot is not a voluntary fault.

Therefore, a hereditary blot is not sin properly so called.

The Minor is proven:  because it is in man before the use of reason and the action of the will.

Response:  1.  The major premise, according to some, is not universally true:  for sin is not to be estimated according to the will of man, but according to the law of God:  what is repugnant to that law is ἀνομία/lawlessness or sin, whether it be voluntary, or not voluntary.

Some concede the major, but only concerning actual sin:  but, that certain actual sins are also involuntary in a way, Paul testifies by his own example, Romans 7:19, the good that I would I do not:  but the evil which I would not, that I do.

2.  The minor is also denied by some.  For, that hereditary blot is reckoned to be voluntary, 1.  with respect to the root, or Adam, who voluntarily sinned for himself and his posterity, because he sustained his own and his posterity’s person:  2.  with respect to the proper subject, that is, the will, in which it inheres:  which is inclined to sin, even in infants.

(2.)  The children of Christians are holy, 1 Corinthians 7:14.

Therefore, they are without original sin.

Response:  The consequence is denied.  For that holiness, of which Paul speaks, is not conformity with the divine law:  but only external, civil and federal, whereby those that are born of convenanted members are reckoned as covenanted and members of the Church:  and so they are admitted to the common rights and rites of citizens.

(3.)  Lust, or original concupiscence, brings forth sin, James 1:15.

Therefore, it is not itself sin.

Response:  I deny the consequence.  The rationale is:  1.  Because one sin is able to be the cause of another:  indeed, of what sort is the fruit, of such a sort is the tree.  2.  Because this only is able to be concluded:  Original lust is not the same thing as original sin:  but the sin that it brings forth is actual sin, not original.

(4.)  God Himself forms infants, and they are the work of His hands, Job 10:8.

Therefore, infants are not born with sin.

The rationale of the consequencethat otherwise God would be the author of sin.

Response:  The consequence is denied:  the proof is inconsequent.  For God forms the substance, which is of itself good:  to which vice is added from elsewhere, namely, from the sin of parents.  Therefore, the work of God is to be distinguished from the defect added by man and intervening.

(5.)  The sin is the fault of the parents.

Therefore, it is not transferred to the children.

The rationale of the consequencethat neither are the virtues of the parents, like piety, learning, temperance, etc., propagated to the children.

Response:  The consequence is denied.  The rationale is inconsequent:  for the sin that we call original, is natural to man after the fall, and pertains to the whole species:  as it is evident from Scripture.  But virtues are not natural:  but rather acquired by exercise, or infused by grace:  whence they are personal, and pertain to the individual, and so are not propagated.  Hence among men some diseases are also propagated from the parents to the children, as it is evident concerning leprosy, but others not so.  The actual sins of parents are not propagated, but only original sin.

(6.)  The blood of infants is innocent, Psalm 106:38.  They themselves have done neither good nor evil:  as Paul says of Jacob and Esau, Romans 9:11.

Therefore, they are not born with sin.

Responses:  1.  The antecedent is not true in a simple way.  Infants are not absolutely innocent, but only in a certain respect:  with respect to actual sin they do not deserve a violent death to be inflicted by men:  concerning which the Psalm speaks.  At the same time, before God they are guilty and liable to punishment:  as we have already proved from Scripture.

2.  The consequence is denied:  there is no conclusion to be drawn from the denial of actual sin to the denial of original sin:  actual sin is denied of the infants Jacob and Esau.

(7.)  Actual sin is forgiven to pious parents.

Therefore, it is not transmitted to their children.

Response:  The consequence is denied.  For remission does not bring it about, that sin is no longer in the parents, but that it is not imputed to them unto death.

(8.)  Even after the fall man has the image of God.

Therefore, he has not lost the image of God by the fall; and by consequence, there is no original sin.

The antecedent is proven from Genesis 9:6, where even after the fall man is said to be made in the image of God.  James 3:9, with the tongue curse we men made in the image of God.

Response:  The antecedent is false concerning the image of God whole and intact:  it is not proven from the passages alleged.  The image of God remains in fallen man, with respect to his spiritual soul, with respect to the faculties of intellect and will:  but it has perished with respect to original righteousness:  to which original sin succeeds.

(9.)  No reason is able to be assigned, why by the disobedience of our first parents the nature of man ought to be corrupted.

Therefore, it is not be said that it has been corrupted.

Response:  The antecedent is denied:  the corruption of our first parents is a sufficient cause.  Whence from an bad tree it was not possible not to produce bad fruit:  with Christ Himself as judge, Matthew 7:18.  Neither is a clean thing able to be taken from an unclean, Job 14:4.  The righteousness and truth of the divine threat follow.

(10.)  The sin of Adam was only one vicious act.  Therefore, it was not able to introduce a habitual corruption of nature.

Responses:  1.  The antecedent is false.  The sin of Adam was an accumulation of the most atrocious sins, perpetrated against all the laws of the Decalogue, as Theologians show.  That sin was also conjoined with the abolition of the divine image, with respect to its principal parts, in which Scripture principally locates the substance of the image:  which are particularly expressed by the name of original righteousness.

2.  The consequence is also null:  for a vicious act is able to corrupt nature:  as corporal slaughter by one act destroys man.

(11.)  In Genesis 3, where the punishments for sin are enumerated, there is no mention of corruption and the lost image.

Therefore, there was no such punishment.

Responses:  1.  The antecedent is denied:  for that corruption is comprehended under the term death.

2.  The consequence is also null:  because it is not necessary, that Scripture express in one passage all things that pertain to the present argument or theme.

VIII.  Four other questions pertaining to this locus are briefly to be examined.

It is asked, (1.)  Whether by the sin of Adam the strength to believe the Gospel was lost to us?

Response:  Some lovers of novelty have furnished the occasion for this question:  they, so that they might evince that God is bound to grant grace sufficient for all men and each, whereby they might be able to believe upon Christ, if only they will; affirm that the grace to believe upon Christ was not given to Adam, and so neither was it lost by him; and hence that God is not able rightfully to require faith upon Christ from man as sinner, unless in the state of sin He grant to the same grace sufficient for believing.  Whence the assertion of the Remonstrants, as they are called, arose, from which shrink not very much the Papists, and also some Lutherans:  who teach that to all men promiscuously is given grace sufficient for believing upon Christ.  Since the Orthodox deny this, they uphold the affirmative of the first question with this argument:

What Adam received from God in creation for himself and his posterity, through the fall that was lost to him and his posterity.

But he received from God in creation the strength to believe the Gospel for himself and his posterity.

Therefore, through the fall he lost the same for himself and his posterity.

The major is beyond controversy.

The minor is proven in this manner:

He that received from God for himself and his posterity the strength to love God, and to believe His whole word, whatever at length might happen, also received for himself and his posterity the strength to believe the word of the Gospel.

But Adam received the strength to love God, and to believe His whole word, etc.

Therefore, he also received the strength to believe the Gospel for himself and his posterity.

The minor of his Prosyllogism is proven:  Because without this strength there would have been no perfect image of God in man, nor would man have been furnished with grace sufficient for avoiding all infidelity.  For, why could not God reveal future things to man in his state of innocence, and promise him, if it was going to happen that he would fall, a gracious restoration through His own Son?  And who would deny, that man in his integrity ought and was able to believe God promising this?  Thus it is not doubtful, that in the state of innocence Adam had the faculty of helping the sick and miserable, even if in that state there was, or was able to be, no misery or sickness.

IX.  Against the contrary opinion it is objected by the Arminians and Remonstrants:

(1.)  Adam in the state of innocence had no need of faith in Christ.

Therefore, the strength for believing upon Christ was not given to him by God.

Response:  I deny the consequence.  For, strength is not always placed in nature because of the necessity of an act:  but often because of the perfection of that nature.  Thus God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham, Matthew 3:9.  Yet there is no necessity to do this.  Strength was given to Adam to travel over the whole face of the earth:  yet he never traveled over the entirety of it.  He had strength for see all colored bodies:  but undoubtedly he did not see all things, nor was it necessary for him to see them.

(2.)  What in the state of innocence Adam was not able to believe without contradiction and falsehood, he did not receive the faculty to believe this in creation.

But he was not able without contradiction and falsehood to believe that eternal life was going to be given to him, and that he was going to be in a gracious state before God because of Christ’s satisfaction.


The minor is proven:  because he was not a sinner.

Response:  A distinction is to be introduced into the major:  What in the state of innocence Adam was in no way able to believe without contradiction and falsehood, he did not receive in creation the faculty to believe.  The minor, taken with this limitation, is not true in a simple way.  Adam in the was able, without contradiction and falsehood, and in the state of innocence, to believe that eternal life was going to be given to him because of Christ’s satisfaction, should he cast away his innocence.  Thereupon he was able without contradiction and falsehood to believe that he was going to be in a gracious state through Christ, if by the fall he had been deprived of grace.

(3.)  The law alone was given to Adam.

Therefore, Adam was not obligated to believe upon Christ.

The rationale of the consequencebecause faith is not prescribed in the law.

Response:  The consequence is denied.  The proof is not true in a simple way.  For, even if faith in Christ is not expressly and particularly prescribed in the law, it is nevertheless prescribed implicitly and in general:  Because by the law man is bound to believe every word of God, whatever that might at last prove to be.

(4.)  If Adam did not receive the strength to rise again after the fall, he certainly did not receive the strength to believe the Gospel.

But the former is true:  Therefore also the latter.

The rationale of the hypotheticalbecause the strength to rise again after the fall is the strength to believe the Gospel.

The minor is proven:  Because after the fall he was not able to rise again by his own strength.

Response:  I deny the minor:  the proof is inconsequent.  For, inasmuch as man after the fall was not able to rise again by his own strength, it is not the case that he did not receive that strength in creation:  but that he lost it through the fall.

X.  It is asked, (2.) Whether after the fall, before regeneration, man’s free choice is indifferent to the moral good and the moral evil?

Response:  Evangelicals uphold the negative of this question against the Papists:  and so their assertion is this:  Man by the fall has been corrupted in such a way that before regeneration only moral evil, that is, sin, proceeds from his free choice:  whence in no manner is his will indifferent to good and evil.  In this regard the will of man is said to be in bondage; because it is bound in the servitude of sin in such a way that it is not suited to the opposite righteousness.  This opinion is proven by the following arguments:

(1.)  The will of fallen man, not yet regenerated, is the servant of sin.

Therefore, it is not equally free, or indifferent, to good and to evil.

The rationale of the consequence:  because they are contradictories, to be the servant of sin, and to be free from sin, that is, to be able, with evil abandoned, to cross over to the good.

The antecedent is proven, 2 Peter 2:19, they themselves are the servants of corruption, for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage.  Romans 7:14, I am carnal, sold, so that I might be subjected to sin.  2 Timothy 2:25, 26, if peradventure God might give to them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth, and that they might recover themselves out of the snare of the Devil, by whom they are taken captive, and might recover sanity of mind to fulfill His will.[2]  Hence we are said to have been freed from sin through the death of Christ, Romans 6:6, 7.

(2.)  Those that are dead in trespasses and sins, and are by nature children of wrath:  to the extent that they are such, their will is not able to bring forth the fruit of spiritual life and of the children of grace.  But all men are dead in sins, and are by nature children of wrath.

Therefore, to the extent that they are such, their will is not able to bring forth the fruit of spiritual life and of the children of grace.

The major is proven:  Because they stand in contradiction, to be dead in sins and a child of wrath, and to live spiritually; to be under the dominion of sin, and to do the works of the children of grace.

The minor comes from Paul, Ephesians 2:1-3.

(3.)  Every imagination and thought of man’s heart is only evil continually, Genesis 6:5.

Therefore, the free will of man does not incline toward good.

(4.)  The understanding of fallen and unrenewed man is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be, Romans 8:7.

Therefore, he is not able to produce a work conformed to the divine law, that is, a work truly good.

(5.)  Whatever is from the strength of the unrenewed will alone is sin.

Therefore, the will of man is not indifferent to good and evil.

The antecedent is proven:  (1.)  Because whatever is not of faith is sin, Romans 14:23.  But whatever is done by the strength of the unrenewed will is without faith.  (2.)  Because man is not able of himself to do anything good:  since he is a rotten tree by nature, which is not able to bear good fruit, Matthew 7:18.  (3.)  Because whoever does that which is good is not unregenerate, Romans 3:12.

(6.)  Whatever is of moral good in man is the gracious gift of God.

Therefore, no good comes from the natural strength of the human will.

The antecedent is proven, James 1:17, every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.  1 Corinthians 4:7, what hast thou that thou didst not receive?

XI.  Contrariwise, the Papists persist, moral goods are able also able to proceed from the unrenewed will of man, and so the will is indifferent in itself to good and evil.  Their principal arguments are theses:

(1.)  If the will of fallen man before regeneration were not indifferent to good and evil, certainly man would sin necessarily.

But the consequent is false:  Therefore, the antecedent also.

The minor is proven:  because ever sin is voluntary.  But what is voluntary is not necessary:  since everything voluntary is able to be avoided.

Response:  We deny the minor:  the proof is inconsequent.  Indeed, every sin is in some way voluntary; but what is voluntary is not thereby not necessary:  since a thing is able to be both voluntary and necessary.  It is to be observed, therefore, necessity of all sorts is not repugnant to the voluntary and free, but only coactive necessity.  What is called the necessity of immutability is consistent with the voluntary and free.  For example, the Blessed in heaven praise God willingly and with perfect freedom, whom, nevertheless, they are not able not to praise, and praise necessarily.  Devils sin voluntarily, and also necessarily and inevitably.

(2.)  If fallen man were not able not to sin, certainly in him there would be no place for punishment.

But the consequent is false:  Therefore also the antecedent.

The rationale of the hypothetical:  because one is not able justly to be punished, unless he were able to stop that because of which he is punished.

Response:  We deny the hypothetical.  Its reasoning is circular.  What has been perpetrated against the law by voluntary cupidity is justly punished, even if it is not able to be avoided:  if the one sinning sustains the fault of his ἀδυναμίας/inability:  which is not able to be denied concerning man.

(3.)  If fallen man were not able not to sin, certainly all would be evil and equally evil.

But the consequent is false:  Therefore also the antecedent.

Experience proves the minorHence the most lauded men among the Gentiles, who, as they are not able to be called evil, so they are much less able to be called equally evil, and other enemies of virtue.

Response:  We deny the minor.  By nature all are evil and equally evil:  for all are by nature the children of wrath, and equally dead in sins, with not even the most lauded men of the Gentiles excepted.  But, that they are not equally evil, and other enemies of virtue, that is, not by nature, or by freedom of choice, but by special grace, which is not denied even to the Gentiles.

(4.)  If fallen and unregenerate men are not able not to sin, certainly in vain shall be the exhortations, reproofs, commendations, censures, precepts, and counsels instituted for them.

But the consequent is false:  Therefore also the antecedent.

The rationale of the hypothetical:  Because the exhortations and reproofs are instituted to this end, that sinners might abstain from sin, and look to themselves.  Therefore, we will exhort and reprove in vain those that are not able to abstain.

Response:  We deny the hypothetical.  The rationale or proof of it is insufficient.  For Scripture exhorts and reproves sinners, first, so that it might advise them of their duty, and render the impenitent ἀναπολογήτους/ inexcusable:[3]  then, so that it might show that sin is detestable to God:  finally, so that by these means the elect might be converted, with the internal efficacy of the Holy Spirit being added to the external word.  Whence, with respect to the elect, the end of sacred reproofs and exhortation, among others, is also this, that the converted might abstain from sin.

(5.)  The laws proposed by God even to the unregenerate do not prescribe the impossible.

Therefore, it is false, that the unregenerate do not sin.

The antecedent is proven:  Because no one is able rightfully to be obligated to the impossible.

Response:  We deny the antecedent.  The proof is not true in a simply way.  For, even if no one is obligated to a thing absolutely impossible:  yet one is able rightfully to be obligated to something relatively impossible, if he occasioned the impossibility by his own fault.  Thus he that wickedly wasted his own goods is nevertheless obligated to pay his debts, which he is unable to pay.  The rationale with respect to man as sinner is completely the same.

(6.)  To whom good things are promised, under condition of obedience rendered, to those the rendering of the condition is possible.

But even to the unregenerate good things are promised in Scripture, under condition of obedience rendered.

Therefore, the rendering of the condition is possible:  and by consequence, they have a will indifferent to good and evil.

The major is proven:  Because a promise under an impossible condition is illusory.

Response:  The major is not universally true:  the proof itself is not universal.  God promises good things to corrupt man under a conditional relatively impossible, not so that He might make sport of him, but so that either He might render him ἀναπολόγητον/inexcusable, and convict him in his conscience, that he is deprived of the promised goods through his own deserving:  or He might show the way to the promised goods, and stir him up to ask for the help of grace, for whom there is no help in his own strength.  Thus the promises of the law promise life, under condition of perfect obedience rendered in his own strength:  which is an impossible condition for corrupt man.  And the condition of Gospel promises, concerning faith in Christ, is impossible to our strength:  as the Papists themselves acknowledge.

(7.)  In Scripture God is everywhere sought concerning the wickedness of men.

Therefore, they are able to convert themselves to good by their own strength.

Response:  I deny the consequence.  He [God] is rightfully sought concerning the wickedness that He acknowledges to be directed against His law, and knows to be perpetrated with the full consent of the will.

(8.)  Certain works of unbelievers are not sins.

Therefore, unbelievers also are able not to sin.

The Antecedent is proven.

1.  God does not reward sins.

But certain works of unbelievers are rewarded.

Therefore, certain works of unbelievers are not sins.

The minor is proven:  God is said to have built houses for the Egyptian midwives, because they feared him, Exodus 1:19-21.  Thus God gave a reward to an unbelieving army, because they faithfully served their king against Tyre, Ezekiel 29.

Response:  We introduce a distinction into the major:  God does not reward sins per se, and according to the substance of the work:  but He does reward sins contingently, that is, works good of themselves, conjoined with an external want either of faith or of the appropriate end.

2.  Pagans also are able to show signs of benevolence toward their own, Matthew 5:47.

Therefore, good works are able also to proceed from unbelievers.

Response:  I deny the consequence:  If the works are understood as good, in such a way that they are not alleged to be sins by Scripture, at least by accidental property:  by which name all the virtues of the Gentiles go.

3.  Fear of Gehenna and the wrath of God is good.

But that fear is not from grace.

Therefore, something good is able to proceed from man without grace, by the strength of his free will.

The major is proven:  Because it shows the way to repentance.

Response:  The major is not universally true:  for the fear of Gehenna and the wrath of God has been conjoined with desperation, which sort is in Judas and Cain, whom no one would assert to be good.  And, if there is anything good in this fear, yet it is not without sin:  and so the judgment concerning it should be the same as that concerning other sins by accidental properties:  with which not withstanding, it is able sometimes to show the way to repentance.

XII.  It is asked (3), Whether all men, having descended from Adam and his posterity in the natural way, are born unrighteous in original sin?

Response:  This question is agitated between the Papists and the Evangelicals.  All Evangelicals affirm it.  Some Papists by common rule, with some others, except the Virgin Mary, the mother of the Lord, which they think to have been conceived and born without original sin.

Therefore, that the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, was not free from original sin, we prove by these arguments:

(1.)  For Scripture argues that all men descended from Adam, with Christ alone excepted, without any other exception, are sinners, Romans 3:10-12; Romans 5:12; Galatians 3:22.

(2.)  Because Christ by His death begat salvation for her, Luke 1:47; Acts 4:12.

(3.)  Because she was liable to miseries, which are from sin, and indeed was liable, not in the name of another, but her own, Luke 2:35, 48.  To this pertain her poverty, exile, and what calamities were conjoined with the exile:  to all which the Virgin Mary was liable:  at last to death, which is the wages of sin.[4]

(4.)  Because she needed the remission of sin, which is proven.  The Virgin was baptized as a Christian:  but no one is baptized for himself, except one that has need of the remission of sins, of which baptism is a Symbol and Sacrament.  She, after the manner of other believing Christians, recited the Lord’s Prayer for herself, and so asked for the remission of sins in her own case.

(5.)  Because she sinned sometimes.  For she is reproved by Christ, Luke 2:49, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?  John 2:4, What have I to do with thee, woman? mine hour is not yet come.

XIII.  That the Virgin Mary was conceived without original sin, not all Papists thin:  and in particular the Dominican Monks agree with the Evangelicals against the Franciscans, and contend that Maria was liable to original sin:  who are most sharply contradicted by the Franciscans, and with them a great man Romanist Doctors outside of the order of the Dominicans.  Indeed, a few years ago, the Neapolitan Clergy were compelled by the viceroy to add their assent to the immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin by a bodily oath.

Let us review the arguments:

(1.)  The Blessed Virgin crushed the head of the serpent, Genesis 3:15.

Therefore, she was free from all sin.

Response:  The antecedent is false; the text alleged teaches that the head of the serpent, that is, Satan, was crushed by the seed of the woman, not by the woman.  But if it be possible to crush the head of the serpent, to trample upon the serpent or the Devil, and to triumph over him in some manner:  the consequence is also denied.  For believers in some manner crush the head of Satan through the grace of Christ,[5] even if they are not completely free from sin.

(2.)  The Blessed Virgin was κεχαριτωμένη, that is, full of grace, and blessed among women, Luke 1:28,[6] 42.

Therefore, she was free from all sin.

Response:  We deny the consequence.  For both grace and blessedness are able to consist with sin:  Mary is said to be κεχαριτωμένη, that is, graciously beloved, or obtaining grace:  because by God’s mere grace, with no privilege of nature, she was preferred to all other women, that she might be the mother of the Lord.  But what does this have to do with immunity from all sin?  The rationale of blessedness is the same:  for she was able to be blessed among all women, even if she was the same as all the rest with respect to original sin.  She had this prerogative, not by omnimodal innocence, but from her Son, the Savior of the world.

(3.)  God willed that Mary be free from the original fall.

Therefore, she was free.

The antecedent is proven:

1.  Because He will that no shame recoil upon Him from His mother.  But shame would have recoiled upon the Son, if the mother had been a sinner.

Response:  What arise from a considerable violation of the civil law is civilly called shame.  But original sin is not prohibited by civil laws, and so because of it civil laws mark no one with shame.  Therefore, this was not civilly shameful to the mother of Christ, much less to Christ Himself.  But shame, assessed according to the law of God before the tribunal of heaven, does not necessarily redound from mother to son, unless it also be propagated upon the son, or imputed to him.  Therefore, the shame of the mother does not redound upon Christ, for it is not propagated upon Him, nor imputed to Him:  since He was by singular privilege preserved from the fall in His very conception.

2.  Mary had a singular affinity with Christ.

Therefore, God willed her to be free from the original fall.

Response:  I deny the consequence.  That was an affinity of nature, which did not impede the original sin of the mother:  Christ, with the nature of His mother assumed, was preserved from this by a singular sanctification.  I do not know what came into the mind of Luther, when he wrote, Tome 3, Jena, folio 363:  Blessed Mary, the mother of Christ, neither bodily nor spiritually brought forth Christ, which is an exceedingly hard saying.

XIV.  It is asked (4), Whether any remnants of the divine image yet remaining are consistent with original sin in a man not yet renewed?

Response:  The Orthodox maintain the affirmative of this questions, and affirm that the image of God is not altogether abolished in man by sin.

The proof is ready to hand.  For the rational soul, which is immortal spirit, remains in man corrupted by the fall of Adam,  Its faculties remain, namely, intellect and willPrincipia of truth, theoretical and practical, ingrafted in the intellect, as it were, remain:  concerning the knowledge of the true and the false in many things, concerning the distinction of the honest and the disgraceful, concerning the worship of God, concerning the honoring of parents, concerning natural equity, that we should not do to another, what we would not have done to us.  Finally, some particle of dominion remains.  At the same time, nothing of these is equal to the task, that by it fallen and corrupt man might be able either to rise again, or to prepare himself to receive the offered grace, or even to cooperate with God laying the first foundations of grace.  Indeed, there is nothing in appearance so good and excellent, that it is not defiled by sin, and is not called sin by Scripture; in that sense which we express in chapter 11, thesis 4.

* XV.  Concerning the punishment of original sin with respect to those that die in infancy, the opinions of Theologians are various.

The Pelagians promised to infants departing this life without baptism a certain more obscure felicity of eternal life, without sorrow or trouble.  The Papists assign them the nearest habitation in hell, and call it the limbo of infants:  where they suffer the punishment, not of sense, but of loss, without sorrow or joy.  Other pronounce, not only the baptized but the unbaptized, not only the offspring of believers but also of unbelievers, dying in infancy, heirs of eternal life.

(I.)  Briefly we thus judge, that original sin, even alone, brings liability to eternal death upon all infants.

(1.)  Because it is sin, properly so called; and the wages of sin, properly so called is death, Romans 6:23; 5:12, 14, 15, 18, 19.

(2.)  Because some of them, who are infected with original sin alone, are Chaff:  but Chaff will be cast into the furnace of fire, Matthew 13:30.

(3.)  Because infants, because of original sin, are by nature Children of wrath, Ephesians 2:3.  But children of wrath are children of Hell, as Thomas testifies.

(II.)  All infants, elected to eternal life, are saved:  all reprobated are damned, whether they be born of believers or unbelievers.

(III.)  It is not evident to us, whether all infants of the Gentiles are reprobate:  and so we commit them to the judgment of God:  it is not likely that they are all elect.

(IV.)  We do not doubt that among the infants of the Covenanted dying in infancy some are elect, and so much less concerning their salvation, with original sin presenting no insuperable barrier:  even if of old they departed with circumcision, or now depart without baptism.  Because privation of the Sacrament of itself damns no one, especially not the elect.

(V.)  But those of them that are reprobate doubtlessly are condemned:  although they be circumcised or baptized.

(VI.)  The Merit of Christ, altogether sufficient to expiate the sins of all and each, actually expiated the sins of no one, except to whom it is actually imputed and applied by grace.

[1] Matthæus Flacius Illyricus (1520-1575) was a Lutheran divine, serving as Professor of Hebrew at Wittenburg (1544), then as Professor of New Testament at Jena (1557).  He made great contributions in the fields of church history and hermeneutics.

[2] The Latin rendering of the last clause differs substantially from the Greek.

[3] Romans 1:20:  “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 (ἀναπολογήτους)…”

[4] Romans 6:23.

[5] See Romans 16:20.

[6] Luke 1:28:  “And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured (κεχαριτωμένη), the Lord is with thee:  blessed art thou among women.”

67 views3 comments


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Dec 21, 2023

Westminster Confession of Faith 10:3: Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit,1 who worketh when, and where, and how He pleaseth.2 So also are all other elect persons, who are uncapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.3 

1 Luke 18:15,16; Acts 2:38,39; John 3:3,5; 1 John 5:12; Rom. 8:9.

2 John 3:8.

3 1 John 5:12; Acts 4:12.


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Dec 21, 2023

Westminster Confession of Faith 6:

1. Our first parents, being seduced by the subtilty and temptation of Satan, sinned in eating the forbidden fruit.1 This their sin, God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory.2 

1 Gen. 3:13; 2 Cor. 11:3.

2 Rom. 11:32.

2. By this sin, they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God,1 and so became dead in sin,2 and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body.3 

1 Gen. 3:6,7,8; Eccl. 7:29; Rom. 3:23.

2 Gen. 2:17; Eph. 2:1.

3 Tit. 1:15; Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:10-18.

3. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed,1 and the same death in sin…


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Dec 21, 2023
bottom of page