A Display of Arminianism

John Owen



HEROD the Great, imparting his counsel of rebuilding the temple unto the Jews, they much feared he would never be able to accomplish his intention,1 but, like an unwise builder, having demolished the old before he had sat down and cast up his account whether he were able to erect a new, they should (by his project) be deprived of a temple. Wherefore, to satisfy their jealousies, he resolved, as he took down any part of the other, presently to erect a portion of the new in the place thereof. Right so the Arminians, determining to demolish the building of divine providence, grace, and favor, by which men have hitherto ascended into heaven, and fearing lest we should be troubled, finding ourselves on a sudden deprived of that wherein we reposed our confidence for happiness, they have, by degrees, erected a Babylonish tower in the room thereof, whose top, they would persuade us, shall reach unto heaven. First, therefore, the foundation-stones they bring forth, crying, “Hail, hail,” unto them, and pitch them on the sandy, rotten ground of our own natures. Now, because heretofore some wise master-builders had discovered this ground to be very unfit to be the basis of such a lofty erection, by reason of a corrupt issue of blood and filth arising in the midst thereof, and overspreading the whole platform, to encourage men to an association in this desperate attempt, they proclaim to all that there is no such evil fountain in the plain which they have chosen for the foundation of their proud building, setting up itself against the knowledge of God in plain terms. Having rejected the providence of God from being the original of that goodness of entity which is in our actions, and his predestination from being the cause of that moral and spiritual goodness wherewith any of them are clothed, they endeavor to draw the praise of both to the rectitude of their nature and the strength of their own endeavors But this attempt, in the latter case, being thought to be altogether vain, because of the disability and corruption of nature, by reason of original sin, propagated unto us all by our first parents, whereby it is become wholly void of integrity and holiness, and we all become wise and able to do evil, but to do good have no power, no understanding; therefore, they utterly reject this imputation of an inherent, original guilt, and demerit of punishment, as an enemy to our upright and well-deserving condition. And oh, that they were as able to root it out of the hearts of all men, that it should never more be there, as they have been to persuade the heads of divers that it was never there at all!

If any would know how considerable this article concerning original sin hath ever been accounted in the church of Christ, let him but consult the writings of St Augustine, Prosper, Hilary, Fulgentius, any of those learned fathers whom God stirred up to resist, and enabled to overcome, the spreading Pelagian heresy, or look on those many councils, edicts, decrees of emperors, wherein that heretical doctrine of denying this original corruption is condemned, cursed, and exploded. Now, amongst those many motives they had to proceed so severely against this heresy, one especially inculcated deserves our consideration, namely, —

That it overthrew the necessity of Christ’s coming into the world to redeem mankind. It is sin only that makes a Savior necessary; and shall Christians tolerate such an error as, by direct consequence, infers the coming of Jesus Christ into the world to be needless? My purpose for the present is not to allege any testimonies of this kind; but, holding myself close to my first intention, to show how far in this article, as well as others, the Arminians have apostated from the pure doctrine of the word of God, the consent of orthodox divines, and the confession of this church of England.

In the ninth article of our church, which is concerning original sin, I observe especially four things: — First, That it is an inherent evil, the fault and corruption of the nature of every man. Secondly, That it is a thing not subject or conformable to the law of God, but hath in itself, even after baptism, the nature of sin. Thirdly, That by it we are averse from God, and inclined to all manner of evil. Fourthly, That it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation. All which are frequently and evidently taught in the word of God, and every one denied by the Arminians, as it may appear by these instances, in some of them: —

First, That it is an inherent sin and pollution of nature, having a proper guilt of its own, making us responsible to the wrath of God, and not a bare imputation of another’s fault to us his posterity: which, because it would reflect upon us all with a charge of a native imbecility and insufficiency to good, is by these self-idolizers quite exploded.

“Infants2 are simply in that estate in which Adam was before his fall,” saith Venator.3 “Neither is it at all considerable whether they be the children of believers or of heathens and infidels; for infants, as infants, have all the same innocency,” say they jointly, in their Apology: nay, more plainly,4 “It can be no fault wherewith we are born.” In which last expression these bold innovators, with one dash of their pens, have quite overthrown a sacred verity, an apostolic, catholic, fundamental article of Christian religion. But, truly, to me there are no stronger arguments of the sinful corruption of our nature than to see such nefarious issues of unsanctified hearts. Let us look, then, to the word of God confounding this Babylonish design.

First, That the nature of man, which at first was created pure and holy, after the image of God, endowed with such a rectitude and righteousness as was necessary and due unto it, to bring it unto that supernatural end to which it was ordained, is now altogether corrupted and become abominable, sinful, and averse from goodness, and that this corruption or concupiscence is originally inherent in us and derived from our first parents, is plentifully delivered in holy writ, as that which chiefly compels us to a self-denial, and drives us unto Christ. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me,” saith David, Psalm 51:5. Where, for the praise of God’s goodness towards him, he begins with the confession of his native perverseness, and of the sin wherein he was wrapped before he was born. Neither was this peculiar to him alone; he had it not from the particular iniquity of his next progenitors, but by an ordinary propagation from the common parent of us all; though in some of us, Satan, by this Pelagian attempt for hiding the disease, hath made it almost incurable: for even those infants of whose innocency the Arminians boast are unclean in the verdict of St Paul, 1 Corinthians 7:14, if not sanctified by an interest in the promise of the covenant; and no unclean thing shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.5 “The weakness of the members of infants is innocent, and not their souls;” they want nothing, but that the members of their bodies are not as yet ready instruments of sin. They are not sinful only by external denomination, — accounted so because of the imputation of Adam’s actual transgression unto them; for they have all an uncleanness in them by nature, Job 14:4, from which they must be “cleansed with the washing of water by the word,” Ephesians 5:20. Their whole nature is overspread with such a pollution as is proper only to sin inherent, and doth not accompany sin imputed; as we may see in the example of our Savior, who was pure, immaculate, holy, undefiled, and yet “the iniquity of us all” was imputed unto him. Hence are those phrases of “washing away sin,” Acts 22:16; of “cleansing filth,” 1 Peter 3:21, Titus 3:5. Something there is in them, as soon as they are born, excluding them from the kingdom of heaven; for except they also be born again of the Spirit, they shall not enter into it, John 3:5. 

Secondly, The opposition that is made between the righteousness of Christ and the sin of Adam, Romans 5, which is the proper seat of this doctrine, showeth that there is in our nature an inbred sinful corruption; for the sin of Adam holds such relation unto sinners, proceeding from him by natural propagation, as the righteousness of Christ doth unto them who are born again of him by spiritual regeneration. But we are truly, intrinsically, and inherently sanctified by the Spirit and grace of Christ; and therefore there is no reason why, being so often in this chapter called sinners, because of this original sin, we should cast it off, as if we were concerned only by an external denomination, for the right institution of the comparison and its analogy quite overthrows the solitary imputation. 

Thirdly, All those places of Scripture which assert the proneness of our nature to all evil, and the utter disability that is in us to do any good, that wretched opposition to the power of godliness, wherewith from the womb we are replenished, confirms the same truth. But of these places I shall have occasion to speak hereafter.

Fourthly, The flesh, in the Scripture phrase, is a quality (if I may so say) inherent in us; for that, with its concupiscence, is opposed to the Spirit and his holiness, which is certainly inherent in us. Now, the whole man by nature is flesh; for “that which is born of the flesh is flesh,” John 3:6; — it is an inhabiting thing, a thing that “dwelleth” within us, Romans 7:17. In brief, this vitiosity, sinfulness, and corruption of our nature is laid open, First, By all those places which cast an aspersion of guilt, or desert of punishment, or of pollution, on nature itself; as Ephesians 2:1,3, we are “dead in trespasses and sins,” being “by nature the children of wrath, even as others,” being wholly encompassed by a “sin that doth easily beset us.” Secondly, By them which fix this original pravity in the heart, will, mind, and understanding, Ephesians 4:18; Romans 12:2; Genesis 6:5. Thirdly, By those which positively decipher this natural depravation, 1 Corinthians 2:14; Romans 8:7; — or, Fourthly, That place it in the flesh, or old man, Romans 6:6; Galatians 5:16. So that it is not a bare imputation of another’s fault, but an intrinsical adjacent corruption of our nature itself, that we call by this name of original sin. But, alas! it seems we are too large carvers for ourselves, in that wherewith we will not he contented.

The Arminians deny all such imputation, as too heavy a charge for the pure, unblamable condition wherein they are brought into this world. They deny, I say, that they are guilty of Adam’s sin, as sinning in him, or that his sin is any way imputed unto us; which is their second assault upon the truth of this article of faith.

“Adam6 sinned in his own proper person, and there is no reason why God should impute that sin of his unto infants,” saith Boraeus. The nature of the first covenant, the right and power of God, the comparison instituted by the apostle between Adam and Christ, the divine constitution, whereby Adam was appointed to be the head, fountain, and origin of all human kind, are with him no reasons at all to persuade it.7 “For it is against equity,” saith their Apology, “that one should be accounted guilty for a sin that is not his own, — that he should be reputed nocent who, in regard of his own will, is truly innocent.” And here, Christian reader, behold plain Pelagianism obtruded on us without either welt8 or guard; men on a sudden made pure and truly innocent, notwithstanding all that natural pollution and corruption the Scripture everywhere proclaims them to be replenished withal. Neither is the reason they intimate of any value, that their wills assented not to it, and which a little before they plainly urge. “It is,” say they,9 “against the nature of sin that that should be counted a sin to any by whose own proper will it was not committed:” which being all they have to say, they repeat it over and over in this case, — “It must be voluntary, or it is no sin.” But I say this is of no force at all; for, — first, St John, in his most exact definition of sin, requires not voluntariness to the nature of it, but only an obliquity, a deviation from the rule. It is an anomy, — a discrepancy from the law, which whether voluntary or no it skills not much; but sure enough there is in our nature such a repugnancy to the law of God. So that, secondly, if originally we are free from a voluntary actual transgression, yet we are not from an habitual voluntary digression and exorbitancy from the law. But, thirdly, in respect of our wills, we are not thus innocent neither; for we all sinned in Adam, as the apostle affirmeth. Now, all sin is voluntary, say the Remonstrants, and therefore Adam’s transgression was our voluntary sin also, and that in divers respects, — first, in that his voluntary act is imputed to us as ours, by reason of the covenant which was made with him on our behalf. But because this, consisting in an imputation, must needs be extrinsical unto us, therefore, secondly, we say that Adam, being the root and head of all human kind, and we all branches from that root, all parts of that body whereof he was the head, his will may be said to be ours. We were then all that one man,10 — we were all in him, and had no other will but his; so that though that be extrinsical unto us, considered as particular persons, yet it is intrinsical, as we are all parts of one common nature. As in him we sinned, so in him we had a will of sinning. Thirdly, original sin is a defect of nature, and not of this or that particular person:11 whereon Alvarez grounds this difference of actual and original sin, — that the one is always committed by the proper will of the sinner; to the other is required only the will of our first parent, who was the head of human nature. Fourthly, It is hereditary, natural, and no way involuntary, or put into us against our wills. It possesseth our wills and inclines us to voluntary sins.

I see no reason, then, why Corvinus should affirm, as he doth,12 “That it is absurd, that by one man’s disobedience many should be made actually disobedient,” unless he did it purposely to contradict St Paul, teaching us that “by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,” Romans 5:19. Paulus ait, Corvinus negat; eligite cui credatis; — Choose whom you will believe, St Paul or the Arminians. The sum of their endeavor in this particular is, to clear the nature of man from being any way guilty of Adam’s actual sin, as being then in him a member and part of that body whereof he was the head, or from being obnoxious unto an imputation of it by reason of that covenant which God made with us all in him. So that, denying, as you saw before, all inherent corruption and pravity of nature, and now all participation, by any means, of Adam’s transgression, methinks they cast a great aspersion on Almighty God, however he dealt with Adam for his own particular, yet for casting us, his most innocent posterity, out of paradise. It seems a hard case, that having no obliquity or sin in our nature to deserve it, nor no interest in his disobedience whose obedience had been the means of conveying so much happiness unto us, we should yet be involved in so great a punishment as we are; for that we are not now by birth under a great curse and punishment, they shall never be able to persuade any poor soul who ever heard of paradise, or the garden where God first placed Adam. And though all the rest, in their judgment, be no great matter, but an infirmity and languor of nature, or some such thing, yet, whatever it be, they confess it lights on us as well as him.13 “We confess,” say they, “that the sin of Adam may be thus far said to be imputed to his posterity, inasmuch as God would have them all born obnoxious to that punishment which Adam incurred by his sin, or permitted that evil which was inflicted on him to descend on them.” Now, be this punishment what it will, never so small, yet if we have no demerit of our own, nor interest in Adam’s sin, it in such an act of injustice as we must reject from the Most Holy, with a “God forbid.” Far be it from the Judge of all the world to punish the righteous with the ungodly. If God should impute the sin of Adam unto us, and thereon pronounce us obnoxious to the curse deserved by it, — if we have a pure, sinless, unspotted nature, — even this could scarce be reconciled with that rule of his proceeding in justice with the sons of men, “The soul that sinneth it shall die;” which clearly granteth an impunity to all not tainted with sin. Sin and punishment, though they are sometimes separated by his mercy, pardoning the one and so not inflicting the other, yet never by his justice, inflicting the latter where the former is not. Sin imputed, by itself alone, without an inherent guilt, was never punished in any but Christ. The unsearchableness of God’s love and justice, in laying the iniquity of us all upon him who had no sin, is an exception from that general rule he walketh by in his dealing with the posterity of Adam. So that if punishment be not due unto us for a solely imputed sin, much less, when it doth not stand with the justice and equity of God to impute any iniquity unto us at all, can we justly be wrapped in such a curse and punishment as woeful experience teaches us that we lie under. Now, in this act of injustice, wherewith they charge the Almighty, the Arminians place the whole nature of original sin.14 “We account not,” say they, “original sin for a sin properly so called, that should make the posterity of Adam to deserve the wrath of God, nor for an evil that may properly be called a punishment, but only for an infirmity of nature;” which they interpret to be a kind of evil that, being inflicted on Adam, God suffereth to descend upon his posterity. So all the depravation of nature, the pollution, guilt, and concupiscence we derive from our first parents, the imputation of Adam’s actual transgression, is all straitened to a small infirmity inflicted on poor innocent creatures.

But let them enjoy their own wisdom, which is earthly, sensual, and devilish. The Scripture is clear that the sin of Adam is the sin of us all, not only by propagation and communication (whereby not his singular fault, but something of the same nature, is derived unto us), but also by an imputation of his actual transgression unto us all, his singular disobedience being by this means made ours. The grounds of this imputation I touched before, which may be all reduced to his being a common person and head of all our nature; which investeth us with a double interest in his demerits, whilst so he was: —

1. As we were then in him and parts of him;

2. As he sustained the place of our whole nature in the covenant God made with him; — both which, even according to the exigence of God’s justice, require that his transgression be also accounted ours And St Paul is plain, not only that “by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,” Romans 5:19, by the derivation of a corrupted nature, but also that “by one man’s offense judgment came upon all,” verse 18. Even for his one sin all of us are accounted to have deserved judgment and condemnation; and therefore, verse 12, he affirmeth that by one man sin and death entered upon all the world; and that because we have all sinned in him: which we no otherwise do but that his transgression in God’s estimation is accounted ours. And the opposition the apostle there maketh between Christ and his righteousness, and Adam and his disobedience, doth sufficiently evince it; as may appear by this figure:15

Sicut, sic 


Adamo, sic Christo, 

in omnes 

kri,ma( ca,rij Qeou/

redundavit, eis 

kata,kroma( dikai,wsin zwh/j

per unum 

para,ptwma Adami, dikai,wma Christi.

The whole similitude chiefly consists in the imputation of Adam’s sin and Christ’s righteousness, unto the seed of the one by nature, and of the other by grace. But that we are counted righteous for the righteousness of Christ is, among Protestants (though some differ in the manner of their expressions), as yet without question; and, therefore, are no less undoubtedly accounted sinners by, or guilty of, the first sin of Adam. 

I shall not show their opposition unto the truth in many more particulars concerning this article of original sin, having been long ago most excellently prevented, even in this very method, by the way of antithesis to the Scripture and the orthodox doctrine of our church, by the famously learned Master Reynolds, in his excellent treatise, “Of the Sinfulness of Sin;” where he hath discovered their errors, fully answered their sophistical objections, and invincibly confirmed the truth from the word of God. 

Only, as I have showed already how they make this we call original sin no sin at all, neither inherent in us nor imputed unto us, nor no punishment truly so called; so, because our church saith directly that it meriteth damnation, I will briefly show what they conceive to be the desert thereof. 

First, For Adam himself, they affirm “that the death threatened unto him if he transgressed the covenant, and due unto him for it,16 was neither death temporal, for that before he was subject unto, by the primary constitution of his nature; nor yet such an eternal death as is accompanied with damnation or everlasting punishment.” Nor why, then, let us here learn some new divinity. Christians have hitherto believed that whatsoever may be comprised under the name of death, together with its antecedents, consequents, and attendants, was threatened to Adam in this commination; and divines, until this day, can find but these two sorts of death in the Scripture, as penal unto men, and properly so called; and shall we now be persuaded that it was neither of these that was threatened unto Adam. It must be so, if we will believe the Arminians; it was neither the one nor the other of the former; but whereas he was created mortal, and subject to a temporal death, the sanction of his obedience was a threatening of the utter dissolution of his soul and body, or a reduction to their primitive nothing. But what if a man will not here take them at their words, but believe, according to St Paul, That death entered by sin; that if we had never sinned, we had never died; that man, in the state of innocency, was, by God’s constitution, free even from temporal death, and all things directly conducing thereunto, secondly, That this death, threatened to our first parents, comprehended damnation also of soul and body for evermore, and that of their imaginary dissolution there is not the least intimation in the word of God? —why, I confess they have impudence enough, in divers places, to beg that we would believe their assertions, but never confidence enough to venture once to prove them true. Now, they who make so slight of the desert of this sin in Adam himself will surely scarce allow it to have any ill merit at all in his posterity.

“Whether17 ever any one were damned for original sin, and adjudged to everlasting torments, is deservedly doubted of. Yea, we doubt not to affirm that never any was so damned,” saith Corvinus. And that this is not his sole opinion he declares by telling you no less of his master, Arminius18 “It is most true,” saith he, “that Arminius teacheth that it is perversely said that original sin makes a man guilty of death.” Of any death, it should seem, temporal, eternal, or that annihilation they dream of. And he said true enough. Arminius doth affirm it, adding this reason,19 “Because it is only the punishment of Adam’s actual sin.” Now, what kind of punishment they make this to be I showed you before. But truly I wonder, seeing they are everywhere so peremptory that the same thing cannot be a sin and a punishment, why they do so often nickname this “infirmity of nature,” and call it a sin; which they suppose to be as far different from it as fire from water. Is it because they are unwilling, by new naming it, to contradict St Paul in express terms, never proposing it under any other denomination, or, if they can get a sophistical elusion for him, is it lest, by so doing, Christians should the more plainly discern their heresy? Or whatever other cause it be, in this I am sure they contradict themselves, notwithstanding in this they agree full well,20 “That God rejecteth none for original sin only,” as Episcopius speaks. And here, if you tell them that the question is not “de facto,” what God doth, but “de jure,” what such sinners deserve, they tell us plainly,21 “That God will not destinate any infants to eternal punishment for original sin, without their own proper actual sins; neither can he do so by right or in justice.” So that the children of Turks, Pagans, and the like infidels, strangers from the covenant of grace, departing in their infancy, are far happier than any Christian men, who must undergo a hard warfare against sin and Satan, in danger to fall finally away at the last hour, and through many difficulties entering the kingdom of heaven, when they, without farther trouble, are presently assumed thither for their innocency; yea, although they are neither elected of God (for, as they affirm, he chooseth none but for their faith, which they have not); nor redeemed by Christ (for he died only for sinners, “he sayeth his people from their sins,” which they are not guilty of); nor sanctified by the Holy Ghost, all whose operations they restrain to a moral suasion, whereof infants are not a capable subject; — which is not much to the honor of the blessed Trinity, that heaven should be replenished with them whom the Father never elected, the Son never redeemed, nor the Holy Ghost sanctified.

And thus you see what they make of this original pravity of our nature, at most an infirmity or languor thereof, — neither a sin, nor the punishment of sin properly so called, nor yet a thing that deserves punishment as a sin; which last assertion, whether it be agreeable to holy Scripture or no, these three following observations will declare: —

First, There is no confusion, no disorder, no vanity in the whole world, in any of God’s creatures, that is not a punishment of our sin in Adam. That great and almost universal ruin of nature, proceeding from the curse of God overgrowing the earth, and the wrath of God revealing itself from heaven, is the proper issue of his transgression. It was of the great mercy of God that the whole frame of nature was not presently rolled up in darkness, and reduced to its primitive confusion. Had we ourselves been deprived of those remaining sparks of God’s image in our souls, which vindicate us from the number of the beasts that perish, — had we been all born fools and void of reason, — by dealing so with some in particular, he showeth us it had been but justice to have wrapped us in the same misery, all in general. All things, when God first created them, were exceeding good, and thought so by the wisdom of God himself; but our sin even compelled that good and wise Creator to hate and curse the work of his own hands. "Cursed is the ground," saith he to Adam, 

“for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee,” Genesis 3:17,18.

Hence was that heavy burden of “vanity,” that “bondage of corruption,” under which to this day “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain” until it be delivered, Romans 8:20-22. Now, if our sin had such a strange malignant influence upon those things which have no relation unto us but only as they were created for our use, surely it is of the great mercy of God that we ourselves are not quite confounded; which doth not yet so interpose itself, but that we are all compassed with divers sad effects of this iniquity, lying actually under divers pressing miseries, and deservedly obnoxious to everlasting destruction. So that, —

Secondly, Death temporal, with all its antecedents and attendants, — all infirmities, miseries, sicknesses, wasting destroying passions, casualties that are penal, all evil conducing thereunto or waiting on it, — a punishment of original sin; and this not only because the first actual sin of Adam is imputed to us, but most of them are the proper issues of that native corruption and pollution of sin which is stirring and operative within us for the production of such sad effects, our whole nature being by it thoroughly defiled. Hence are all the distortures and distemperatures of the soul by lusts, concupiscence, passions, blindness of mind, perverseness of will, inordinateness of affections, wherewith we are pressed and turmoiled, even proper issues of that inherent sin which possesseth our whole souls.

Upon the body, also, it hath such an influence, in disposing it to corruption and mortality, as it is the original of all those infirmities, sicknesses, and diseases, which make us nothing but a shop of such miseries for death itself. As these and the like degrees are the steps which lead us on apace in the road that tends unto it, so they are the direct, internal, efficient causes thereof, in subordination to the justice of Almighty God, by such means inflicting it as a punishment of our sins in Adam. Man before his fall, though not in regard of the matter whereof he was made, nor yet merely in respect of his quickening form, yet in regard of God’s ordination, was immortal, a keeper of his own everlastingness. Death, to which before he was not obnoxious, was threatened as a punishment of his sin: “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die;” the exposition of which words, given by God at the time of his inflicting this punishment, and pronouncing man subject to mortality, clearly showeth that it comprehended temporal death also: “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Our return to dust is nothing but the soul leaving the body, whereby before it was preserved from corruption. Farther, St Paul opposeth that death we had by the sin of Adam to the resurrection of the body by the power of Christ:

“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,” 1 Corinthians 15:21,22.

The life which all shall receive by the power of Christ at the last day is essentially a reunion of soul and body; and therefore their separation is a thing we incurred by the sin of Adam. The same apostle also, Romans v., describeth a universal reign of death over all, by reason of the first transgression. Even diseases, also, in the Scripture, are attributed unto sin, as their meritorious cause, John 5:14; 1 Corinthians 11:30; Revelation 2:22. And, in respect of all these, the mercy of God doth not so interpose itself but that all the sons of men are in some sort partakers of them.

Thirdly, The final desert of original sin, as our article speaketh, is damnation, — the wrath of God, to be poured on us in eternal torments of body and soul. To this end, also, many previous judgments of God are subservient, — as the privation of original righteousness (which he took and withheld upon Adam’s throwing it away), spiritual desertion, permission of sin, with all other destroying depravations of our nature, as far as they are merely penal; some of which are immediate consequents of Adam’s singular actual transgression, as privation of original righteousness; others, as damnation itself, the proper effects of that derived sin and pollution that is in us. There is none damned but for his own sin. When divines affirm that by Adam’s sin we are guilty of damnation, they do not mean that any are actually damned for this particular fact; but that by his sin, and our sinning in him, by God’s most just ordination, we have contracted that exceeding pravity and sinfulness of nature which deserveth the curse of God and eternal damnation. It must be an inherent uncleanness that actually excludes out of the kingdom of heaven, Revelation 21:27; which uncleanness the apostle shows to be in infants not sanctified by an interest in the covenant. In brief, we are baptized unto the “remission of sins,” that we may be saved, Acts 2:38. That, then, which is taken away by baptism is that which hinders our salvation; which is not the first sin of Adam imputed, but our own inherent lust and pollution. We cannot be washed, and cleansed, and purged from an imputed sin; which is done by the laver of regeneration. From that which lies upon us only by an external denomination, we have no need of cleansing; we may be said to be freed from it, or justified, but not purged. The soul, then, that is guilty of sin shall die, and that for its own guilt. If God should condemn us for original sin only, it were not by reason of the imputation of Adam’s fault, but of the iniquity of that portion of nature in which we are proprietaries.

Now here, to shut up all, observe, that in this inquiry of the desert of original sin, the question is not, What shall be the certain lot of those that depart this life under the guilt of this sin only? but, What this hereditary and native corruption doth deserve in all those in whom it is? for, as St Paul saith, “We judge not them that are without” (especially infants), 1 Corinthians 5:13. But for the demerit of it in the justice of God, our Savior expressly affirmeth, that” except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” John 3:3,5; and let them that can, distinguish between a not going to heaven and a going to hell: a third receptacle of souls in the Scripture we find not. St Paul also tells us that “by nature we are the children of wrath,” Ephesians 2:3. Even originally and actually we are guilty of and obnoxious unto that wrath, which is accompanied with fiery indignation, that shall consume the adversaries. Again, we are assured that no unclean thing shall enter into heaven, Revelation 21:27; with which hell-deserving uncleanness children are polluted: and, therefore, unless it be purged with the blood of Christ, they have no interest in everlasting happiness. By this means sin is come upon all to condemnation; and yet do we not peremptorily censure to hell all infants departing this world without the laver of regeneration, — the ordinary means of waiving the punishment due to this pollution. That is the question “de facto,” which we before rejected. Yea, and two ways there are whereby God sayeth such infants, snatching them like brands out of the fire: —

First, By interesting them in the covenant, if their immediate or remote parents have been believers. He is a God of them and of their seed, extending his mercy unto a thousand generations of them that fear him. 

Secondly, By his grace of election, which is most free, and not tied to any conditions; by which I make no doubt but God taketh many unto him in Christ whose parents never knew, or had been despisers of, the gospel. And this is the doctrine of our church, agreeable to the Scripture, affirming the desert of original sin to be God’s wrath and damnation. To both which how opposite is the Arminian doctrine may thus appear: —

S.S. Lib. Arbit.
“By the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation,” Romans 5:18. “Adam sinned in his own proper person only, and there is no reason why God should impute that sin unto infants,” Boraeus.
“By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,” Romans 5:19. “It is absurd that by one man’s disobedience many should be made actually disobedient,” Corvinus.
“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me,” Psalm 51:5. “Infants are simply in that estate in which Adam was before his fall,” Venator.
“Else were your children unclean; but now are they holy,” 1 Corinthians 7:14. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one,” Job 14:4. “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” John 3:3. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh,” John 3:6. “Neither is it considerable whether they be the children of believers or of heathens; for all infants have the same innocency,” Rem. Apol. “That which we have by birth can be no evil of sin, because to be born is plainly involuntary,” Idem.
“By nature the children of wrath, even as others,” Ephesians 2:3. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” to wit, in him, Romans 5:12. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing,” chap. 7:18. “Original sin is neither a sin properly so called, which should make the posterity of Adam guilty of God’s wrath, nor yet a punishment of any sin on them,” Rem. Apol. “It is against equity that one should be accounted guilty of a sin that is not his own, that he should be judged nocent who in regard of his own will is truly innocent,” Idem.
“In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” Genesis 2:17. “For as in Adam all die, even so,” etc., 1 Corinthians 15:22. “By nature the children of wrath,” Ephesians 2:3. “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth,” Revelation 21:27. “God neither doth nor can in justice appoint any to hell for original sin,” Rem. Apol. “It is perversely spoken, that original sin makes any one guilty of death,” Armin. “We no way doubt to affirm, that never any one was damned for original sin,” Corv.


  1. Joseph. Antiq. Judeo., lib. 15. cap. 11, sect. 6.
  2. “Infantes sunt simpliees, et stautes in eodem statu in quo Adamus fuit ante lapsum.” — Venat. Theol. re. et me., fol. 2.
  3. “Nec refert an infantes isti sint fidelium, an ethnicorum liberi, infantium enim, qua infantium, eadem est innocentia.” — Rem. Apol., p. 87.
  4. “Malum culpee non est, quia nasci plane est involuntarium,” etc. — Ibid, p. 84.
  5. “Imbecillitas membrorum infantilium innocens est, non animus.” — Aug.
  6. Adamus in propria persona peceavit, et nulla est ratio cur Deus peccatum illud infantibus imputet.” — Bor. in Artic. 31.
  7. “Contra aequitatem est, ut quis reus agatur propter peccatum non suum, ut vere nocens judicetur, qui quoad propriam suam voluntatem innocens est.” — Rem. Apol., c. 7. p. 84.
  8. An old Saxon word denoting a fence or border.
  9. “Contra naturam peccati est, ut censeatur peccatum, aut ut proprie in peccatum imputetur, quod propria voluntate commissure non est.” — Rem. Apol., c. 7. p. 84.
  10. Omnes eramus unus ille homo.” — Aug.
  11. “Est voluntarium, voluntate primi originantis, non voluntate contrahentis: ratione naturm, non personm.” — Thom, 1,2., q. 81, a.
  12. “Absurdum est ut ex unius inobedientia multi actu inobedientes, facti essent.” — Corr. ad Molin., cap. 7. sect. 8.
  13. “Fatemur peccatum Adami, a Deo posse dici imputatum posteris ejus, quatenus Deus posteros Adami eidem malo, cui Adamus per peccatum obnoxium se reddidit, obnoxios nasci voluit; sive quatenus Deus, malum, quod Adamo inflictum erat in poenam, in posteros ejus dimanare et transire permisit.” — Rem. Apol., p. 84.
  14. “Peccatum itaque originale nec habent pro peccato proprie dicto, quod posteros Adami odio Dei dignos faciat, nec pro malo, quod per modum proprie dictae poenae ab Adamo in posteros dimanet sed pro infirmitate,” etc. — Rem. Apol., fol. 84.
  15. Pareeus., ad Rom. 5.
  16. “Cure de aeterna morte loquuntur Remonstrantes in hac deAdamo quaestione, non intelligunt mortam illam, quae aeterna pcena sensus — dicitur,” etc. — Rem. Apol., cap. 4. p. 57.
  17. “An ullus omnino homo, propter peccatum originis solum damnetur, ac aeternis cruciatibus addicatur, merito dubitari potest: imo nullum ita damnari affirmare non veremur.” — Corv, ad Molin., cap. 9. sect. 5.
  18. “Verissimum est Arminium docere, perverse dici peccatum originis reum facere mortis.” — Corv, ad Tilen., p. 888.
  19. “Perverse dicitur peccatum originis, reum facere mortis, quum peccatum illud poena sit peccati actualis Adami.” — Armin. Resp. ad Quaest. 9. a. 3.
  20. “Deus neminem ob solum peccatum originis rejecit.” — Episcop., disp. 9. thes. 2.
  21. “Pro certo statuunt Deum nullos infantes, sine actualibus ac propriis peccatis morientes, aeternis cruciatibus destinare velle, aut jure destinare posse ob peccatum quod vocatur originis.” — Rem. Apol., p. 87.