Chapter X, The Consequences of Original Sin

Chapter X.

With this original sin originates the death of the body, the corruption of the powers of the soul and the body, actual sin, and in consequence of this, before the divine judgment the guilt of great disobedience and eternal condemnation. 

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194. If we inquire after the consequences which the original sin has been instrumental in bringing upon man, we shall have to consider two points, viz.

Man, who has sinned, and God’s judgment, whose duty it is to punish this transgression.

We propose to deal with the subject regarding God’s judgment in the subsequent chapters. For the present it is our intention to prosecate our inquiries concerning man, who has sinned. As the consequences which this original sin has brought down upon man, three things are especially to be noted; which are:

I. death for the life that now is, and for all eternity. 

II. The corruption of man’s abilities.

III. Actual sin. 

195. I. The first consideration concerns the death of the body and the soul.

God had told unto man, that as soon as he eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree, he should surely die, Genes 2, 17. And after man had transgressed this command, God pronounced the following judgment upon him: “dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return, Genes. 3, 19. And although Adam and Eve did not then immediately die, they fell soon after a sacrifice unto this condemnation. It was in this way that mortality and subsequently death did come over all men, Rom. 5, 12; 6, 23; Eccl. (Sirach) 25, 24. And although accordingly man has been created immortal, he has yet become subject unto death by means of sin.

196. II. As another of the consequences of sin is to be considered the corruption of all man’s abilities. There are two different sorts of abilities to be distinguished; which are:

1. Such as are peculiar but to the human nature, and

2. Such as he has in common with every unreasonable being and every other creature. 

1. Those that are peculiar only to man, are:

a. reason, and

b. will.

197. a. The reason is a natural ability, the possession of which enables man to perceive and to discern certain things which are utterly incomprehensible to every unreasonable creature.This ability moreover has not been lost to the human soul after the fall; for even those who have been born in sin, are endowed with reason and understanding in such a manner as to excel over every other creature. But yet this understanding has been darkened to such a degree, that it is impossible for man to discern divine things, or to perceive that which is taught concerning God, His nature, His will and His works, for although he listens to that which is implied by this proposition, yet is he thoroughly unable, by his own reasoning powers to comprehend the things of God in such a way, as might enable him to believe that everything we are taught in scripture concerning the same, be really true.

198. For instance: suppose some man is told that Jesus Christ has been born of a virgin, without her virginity having suffered any injury. He listens to this relation and understand what it implies. But he objects: I cannot understand how this could come to pass, nor can my reason comprehend this. Just as the virgin Mary could not comprehend the message which the Angel was charged to convey to her; for although she heard what he had to say, and perceived the import of his speech, as well as the fact itself which the Angel had to announce to her — she was yet unable to comprehend the truth of the occurrences thus predicted to her. And it was for this reason that she said to the Angel, “How shall this be, seeing that I know not a man,” Luk. 1, 34.

Again the Lord Jesus, on the occasion of his predicting the sufferings through which he should have to pass, as well as, his death and especially his resurrection, was not understood by his disciples, which though they plainly heard that which he had to say were yet unable to comprehend the meaning of this saying. And we are expressly told, that because of their inability to reconcile that which they heard with their own thoughts, they were unable either to comprehend or even to believe his saying, Luk. 18, 31: “And they understood none of these things, and his saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken,”

Exactly so it is the case with our perception regarding the things of God, — our reason is thoroughly incapable of supplying that faith which is required for their understanding.

199. Although this fact is sufficiently established by experience, we shall nevertheless endeavour to adduce some further proofs.

i. It is expressly said regarding man, that he is not able to perceive the things of the spirit, “the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit,” 1. Cor. 2, q4.

ii. The things of the spirit are foolishness to the understanding, “the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness,”‘ 1. Cor. 1, 18; “for after that, in the wisdom of God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe,” ibid v. 22; “We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness,” ibid v. 23. Cap. 3, 18: “If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise.

201. iii. The natural man is in enmity with the things of the spirit, Rom. 8, 7: “the carnal mind is enmity against God.”

202. iv. All spiritual works, which the mind of man is able to accomplish, are described as being the work of God, 2. Cor. 3, 5: “Not that we are sufficient by ourselves to think any thing of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God;” Phil. 1,6: “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it.” (Of which more shall be said in that part of this treatise, which treats of man’s conversion).

203. b. Of the will of man it may, also be said, that it

is quite as corrupt as the understanding; for

i. It is inclined to sin, and to every evil, to such a degree, that he can do nothing Good, nor withdraw himself from the evil. Genes. 6, 5: “Every imagination of the heart was also evil continually; Proverb. 22, 15: “foolishness is bound in the heart of a child.” — Yea even man’s will is captive unto sin; Rom. 7, 14: “for we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin; v. 19: “the good that I would I do not, but the evil, which I would not that I do;” v. 23: “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind bringing me in captivity to the law of sin;” Galat. 5, 17: “the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and they are contrary the one to another: so that yea cannot do the things that ye would.”

204. ii. The human will is unable to yield that obedience to the will of God which is due to Him. The Angels, not being under sin, are able to serve God from their free will; for they are not carried away by any evil inclination, nor misled by any vile and corrupt lusts. As this is impossible to man, it may be said with justice, that through sin he lost his free will, which would have enabled him to live in perfect obedience to the commandments of God.

205. The will of a prisoner cannot be said to be free to do or not to do whatever he pleases, — as little as the will of him, who cannot perform, that which it is his ardent desire to do — and thus the human will cannot be said to be free. For it is captive unto sin, and is prevented by the sinful lusts that occupy the heart of every mortal, from performing even those good works which he has the intention to perform. In this respect every individual need only ask his own conscience, and examine his own experience, and he will not be long in finding that whenever he endeavours to perform a good action (be it prayer, or the contemplation of the divine mysteries and works, or the performance of other practices of godliness), unholy thoughts immediately intrude upon him, or he finds a continued state of prayerfulness to be tedious to him, and other divine practices to be attended with unpleasant feelings. — And if any one finds his state to be such, he is to himself a living testimony to the fact, that his will is continually hindered in the performance of the works of the spirit, and in the practices of a godly life; and that it can therefore not at all be said to be free, to do good or to shun evil.

206. 2. As to the abilities which man has in common with the animals, there may be mentioned: the senses, the appetite or lusts and, affections, and lastly, motion. With other creatures he has in common, the abilities which are requisite for the maintenance and the reproduction of the race in all which great evil is harboured. For eyes and ears, are inclined to wickedness, and incline to evil and vicious practices; whilst on the other hand, they take offence at the exhibition of the principles of a upright, honourable and useful life. This propensity manifests itself as soon as some vain or foolish, and unprofitable amusement is to be attended to, which none of us will get tired of in spending the whole day with, whilst on the other hand when we are required to attend to the duties of divine worship or the preaching of God’s word, we confess ourselves very soon worn out and tired,

207. Thus it is with all the lusts and affections, and every one ought to make this experience on himself, that he is loaded with original sin, and that it manifests itself in him in anger, in passion, in lusts after riches etc.

208. The doctrine which scripture maintains concerning this great corruption of our nature may be gathered from the extracts which have already been given. There is finally (cf. #. 194.).

209. Actual sin to be taken notice of, as being one the consequences of original sin — and that one of the most important, — which we propose to do in the next Chapter.