Catalogue Entry: THEM00311

Book I: Chapter 11

Author: John Milton

Source: A Treatise on Christian Doctrine, Compiled from the Holy Scriptures Alone, vol. 1 (Boston: 1825).

[Normalized Text] [Diplomatic Text]


'That which is thus moral, besides what we fetch from those unwritten laws and ideas which nature hath engraven in us'-. Reason of Church Government urged against Prelaty. Prose Works, I. 90.


His crime makes guilty all his sons.

Paradise Lost, III. 290.

..... in me all

Posterity stands curs'd; fair patrimony

That I must leave you, sons. XI. 317.


..... should Man


Fall circumvented thus by fraud, though join'd

With his own folly ? III. 150.

Left to his own free will, his will though free,

Yet mutable; whence warn him to beware

He swerve not, too secure. V. 236.

God made thee perfect, not immutable.Ibid. 324.

Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve, IX. 359.


..... ungovern'd appetite.....

..... a brutish vice,

Inductive mainly to the sin of Eve. XI. 517.

'If our first parents, Adam and Eve, (Gen. iii. 6.) had not obeyed their greedy appetite in eating the forbidden fruit, neither had they lost the fruition of God's benefits which they then enjoyed in Paradise, neither had they brought so many mischiefs on themselves, and on all their posterity. But when they passed the bounds that God had appointed them, as unworthy of God's benefits, they are expelled and driven out of Paradise; they may no longer eat the fruits of that garden, which by excess they had so much abused.' Homily Against Gluttony.


..... they not obeying

Incurred (what could they less ?) the penalty,

And, manifold in sin, deserv'd to fall.

Paradise Lost, X. 14.

Newton has the following note on these lines. 'The divines, especially those of Milton's communion, reckon up several sins as included in this one act of eating the forbidden fruit; namely, pride, uxoriousness, wicked curiosity, infidelity, disobedience, &c. so that for such complicated guilt, he deserved to fall from his happy state in Paradise.'


'These do also think that the threatening made to Adam, that upon his eating the forbidden fruit he should surely die, is to be taken literally, and is to be carried no further than to a natural death..... All this these divines apprehend is conceivable, and no more; therefore they put original sin in this only, for which they pretend they have all the Fathers with them before St. Austin, and particularly St. Chrysostom and Theodoret, from whom all the later Greeks have done little more than copied out their words.' Burnet On the Ninth Article. The view taken of original sin by Jeremy Taylor seems not to have been essentially different from the opinion contained in the preceding quotation. Bp. Heber points out in a masterly and candid manner the inaccuracy of reasoning which led to his partial heterodoxy on this subject. Life prefixed to Taylors Works, ccxx —ccxxxi.


..... Justice and some fatal curse annex'd

Deprives them of their outward liberty,

Their inward lost: witness th'irrev'rent son

Of him who built the ark: who, for the shame

Done to his father, heard this heavy curse,

Servant of servants, on his vicious race. Paradise Lost, XII. 99.


Quasi habitum quendam sive fomitem deinceps peccati ingenerarunt. 'The particulars commonly reckoned, are, that from Adam we derive an original ignorance, a proneness to sin, a natural malice, a "fomes," or nest of sin imprinted and placed in our souls,' &c. Taylor's Works, IX. 10.


This is incorrect. Augustine wrote in the beginning of the fifth century, but the term had been before employed by Cyprian, in the middle of the third. 'Fuerant et ante Christum viri insignes, prophetæ et sacerdotes: sed in peccatis concepti et nati, nec originali nec personali caruere delicto.' De Jejunio et Tentatione. Milton only once admits the expression into his poem:

Wept at completing of the mortal sin

Original. Paradise Lost, IX. 1003.

See Taylor's Doctrine and Practice of Repentance, Chap. iv. Sect.1. Works, IX. 1.


'Peccatum originis varie admodum definitur a theologis, ita ut quid per ipsum intelligant vix satis capi possit. Scholastici dicunt vulgo, esse carentiam justitiæ originalis debitæ inesse. Sed Protestantes non acquiescunt in hac definitione, nec etiam inter se bene consentiunt.' Curcell Dissertatio secunda de Peccato Originis, 5.


'Sins are not equal, but greater or less in their principle, as well as in their event. It was one of the errors of Jovinian, which he learned from the school of the Stoics, that all sins are alike grievous:

..... Cum dicas esse pares res

Furta latrociniis, et magnis parva mineris

Falce recisurum simili te, si tibi regnum

Permittant homines.

Hor. Serm. I. 3. 121.' Taylor's Works, VIII. 337.

See also Cicero's third paradox, ὅτι ἴσα τὰ ἁμαρτήματα, καὶ τὰ καταρθώματα; and his oration pro L. Murena: 'omnia peccata esse paria; omne delictum, scelus esse nefarium; nec minus delinquere eum, qui gallum galinaceum, cum opus non fuerit, quam eum qui patrem suffocaverit.'

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