This great evil and suffering, which our first parents brought upon themselves in consequence of their sins, they have transmitted to their progeny.
182. Experience teaches us, that the evils and maladies with which people are visited, they frequently transmit to their children. Yea even vice and malice, although being maladies of the soul, have been observed to have been communicated by parents to their children. Nevertheless it sometimes happens, that the children of crippled parents are yet in a healthy state, and that wicked people have pious children.
But not so is it with regard to the sin of the first man. For after having once sinned, man’s nature became envenomed with sin to such a degree, that his nature has come down to his progeny in this sinful state. It is therefore that no child of man (except the Lord Jesus, Heb, 4, 15.) is born in a state of purity and holiness, but that all, because of their being descended from the first man, a partakers of sin.
183. The single act, in the performance of which Adam and Eve transgressed the commandment of God, is therefore not only a sin on their part alone, but also on that of their descendants. For Adam had been required to yield obedience unto God, not only individually for himself, but also in his capacity as the root of the whole human race. He has therefore, in that he transgressed the commandment of God, committed sin not only on account himself, but also on that of the whole human race. In the transgression of Adam all men have done evil; and accordingly the Apostle writes, “By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,” Rom. 5, 16. 19. And after the first man had fallen into sin they could beget none but sinful children; and thus it is that in our days children are born in state of sin.
184. This state of things is usually described by the term “original sin.” Which means: the corruption of the human nature, in consequence of which man has turned away from God, from his works, and His will, being by his nature inclined to shun the good, which it is the pleasure of God that he should do, or if compelled to do it, is doing it with the greatest reluctance, — but who, on the other hand, by nature loves the evil, which God hates; having a desire after the same, and whenever he can accomplishes the evil, with pleasure and delight.
185. In order to get a clear understanding of this state, we need only look at a child. For if left to itself, it invariably acquires evil habits, and scarcely ever any good ones. With this the child proves, that it is by nature always inclined to evil, and not to good. And even if it is the desire of parents, to bring up their children in the principles of piety, godliness, virtue and honesty — even then it is well known, what labour and anxiety is required, in order to keep down the evil that dwells within their bosoms. Whilst it would indeed cost but little trouble, to mislead children from good to evil; — to which they will always be found willingly inclined.
186. Besides every man will surely make this experience by himself that at times, when he desires to hear the word of God, to study the scriptures, or other books, which might lead him to godliness. For although his heart might be already regenerated, and although his inward man might strive and struggle for the due performance of this holy duty — yet it will be found that he is sooner getting tired of it, than of any other work, which he had to perform. For many a person is not nearly as tired by a days labour in his usual vocation as by the hearing of a sermon; but when he has to wait upon, and to prosecute his pleasure or other unprofitable,
frivolous, gluttonous occupations, he never dreams of getting tired. And if these occupations even should last for a whole day, an hour bestowed upon prayer or worship would tire him more than even this. If we inquire into the reason for these phenomena, we shall discover them to have their source in the nature of man, which leads him from the good, and inclines him to every evil. This corruption (that namely his nature as well as his energies are leading away man from God, and from every good principle, and is inclining him to every evil) must certainly be of a very sinful and hateful description. —
187. It is presumed, with regard to the proofs for the corruption of our nature and the existence of original sin, that a reflex view of our own heart and conscience, will suffice thoroughly to convince us of their reality. But for the better and surer confirming of the same, we intend to produce the following proofs:,
That man is by nature and by his birth invested with sin can be proved:
188. a. Because all man are descended from parents, who have, sinned. For as a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit, Matth. 8, 18. we must conclude with Job. 15, 14. ff: “What is a man, that he should be clear? and he which is born of a woman that he should be righteous? Behold he putteth no trust in his saints, yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight. How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?” ‘ ‘
189. b. Because by the fall of Adam all man have become sinners. As St. Paul writes 1. Timot. 2, 14: “the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” Rom. 5, 12: “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned; v. 15; “through the offence of one, many (are) dead;” v. 17: “by one man’s offence death reigned by one;” v. 18: “by the offence of one, judgement came upon all men to condemnation.”
190. c. because all men are conceived and born in sin, Pslm. 51, 5: “behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
191. d. Because man, in his natural state cannot enter the kingdom of heaven; the Lord Jesus says, John. 3, 6: that which is born of flesh is flesh.” But in the preceding verse he says: “Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Paul writes, 1. Cor. 15, 50: “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” And as it is only sin alone, which can possibly exclude man from the kingdom of God, and as all that which is born of flesh cannot inherit the kingdom, it is manifest, that all that which is born of flesh must he sinful.
192. e. Because to the last hour of his life in man all that is to he found, which in reality only originates with sin. For it is evident:
i. That man is continually inclined to commit sin; Matth. 15, 19: “But of the heart proceed evil thoughts’, murders, adulteries” etc. James 1, 14: “but every man is tempted, when, he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.”
ii. That all men even those yet unborn are subject to death, Rom. 6, 23:,for the wages of sin is death.” For death has come upon all men yea even upon those who have not committed the same sin as Adam, as is testified by Paul, Rom. 5, 14: “Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude, of Adam.” Eccl (Sirach) 25, 24: “Of the woman came the beginning of sin, and through her we all die.”
iii. That all man are by nature subject to the wrath of God; “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. The wrath of God rests upon all man by nature; Eph. 2, 3: “we are by nature the children of wrath.” AU man are therefore sinners by nature.
iv. That all men are excluded from the kingdom of heaven, yea even those who have not yet committed actual sin: (cf. #. 191.) which can be proved by the following argument. Children which die before, during or after their birth are either admitted in the kingdom of God or not. If they are admitted into it (as is testified by Christ, Matth. 19, 14: “for of such [the children] is the kingdom of heaven”), then they must enter there by Christ’s mediation; for “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,” Acts. 4, 12; as also Jesus himself says, “no man cometh unto the Father but by me,” Joh. 14, 6. But it are only sinners, which are said to come into the kingdom of Christ through him, “I am not come to call the righteous but sinners unto repentance,” Matth. 9, 13; “Christ Jesus come into the world to save sinners,” 1. Tim, 1, 13; “He shall save his people from their sins,” Matth. 1, 21. If therefore such children can enter the kingdom of heaven in no other way than through Christ they most indeed be sinners. And as before, during or immediately after their birth they themselves, cannot have committed sin, they most necessarily be sinners by nature, cf. #. 228.
193. From this we conclude, that although original sin has corrupted the human nature, yet this nature has not been materially changed by this occurrence. It is to be considered as a great malady of man’s spirit, but not of his substance and nature. We may deduce mis from the fact, that God
aa. has created that same being, which has afterwards been polluted by sin, and that He preserves the same still as one of his creatures; for we read Acts. 17, 28: “In him we live and move, and have our being.” But God cannot be said to have created original sin.
bb. That He has redeemed this human nature by the blood of his own son. Acts. 20, 28. Now He has not redeemed original sin, but he has redeemed his people from this sin, Matth.
cc. That He has sanctified this human being by His Spirit, Ephes. 5, 26. 27. He has certainly not sanctified original sin.
dd. That He will raise up the human body on the last day to final judgment, Job. 19, 26. It is nowhere said that God intends to raise up original sin to eternal life, but on the contrary that He purposes to purify the human nature of this and other failings, 1. Cor. 15, 43: therefore original sin is not identical with the human nature itself.