THE Providence of God, as regards the fall of man, is observable in the sin of man, and the misery consequent upon it, as well as in his restoration.

Sin, as defined by the apostle, is ἀνομία, or 'the transgression of the law,' 1 John iii. 4.

By the law is here meant, in the first place, that rule of conscience which is innate, and engraven upon the mind of man;[1] secondly, the special command which proceeded out of the mouth of God, (for the law written by Moses was long subsequent) Gen. ii. 17. 'thou shalt not eat of it.' Hence it is said, Rom. ii. 12. 'as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law.'

Sin is distinguished into that which is common to all men, and the personal sin of each individual.

The sin which is common to all men is that which our first parents, and in them all their posterity <340> committed,[2] when , casting off their obedience to God, they tasted the fruit of the forbidden tree.

Our first parents. Gen. iii. 6. 'the woman took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.' Hence 1 Tim. ii. 14. 'Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, was in the transgression.' This sin originated, first, in the instigation of the devil, as is clear from the narrative in Gen iii. and from 1 John iii. 8. 4 'he that committeth sin is of the devil, for the devil sinneth from the beginning.' Secondly, in the liability to fall with which man was created,[3] where by he, as the devil had done before him, 'abode not in the truth,'John viii. 44. nor 'kept his first estate, but left his own habitation,' Jude 6. If the circumstances of this crime are duly considered, it will be acknowledged to have been a most heinous offence, and a transgression of the whole law. For what sin can be named, which was not included in this one act? It comprehended at once distrust in the divine veracity, and a proportionate credulity in the assurances of <341> Satan; unbelief; ingratitude; disobedience; gluttony;[4] in the man excessive uxoriousness, in the woman a want of proper regard for her husband, in both an insensibility to the welfare of their offspring, and that offspring the whole human race; parricide, theft, invasion of the rights of others, sacrilege, deceit, presumption in aspiring to divine attributes, fraud in the means employed to attain the object, pride, and arrogance.[5] Whence it is said, Eccles. vii. 29. 'God hath made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions.' James ii. 10. 'whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.'

And in them all their posterity; for even such as were not then born are judged and condemned in them, Gen. iii. 16, &c. so that without doubt they also sinned in them, and at the same time with them. <342> Rom. v. 12. 'by one man sin entered into the world.' v. 15. 'through the offence of one many be dead;' and v. 16. 'the judgement was by one to condemnation;' v. 17. 'by one man's offence death reigned by one;' and v. 18. 'by the offence of one man judgement came upon all men to condemnation;' and v. 19. 'by one man's disobedience many were made sinners.'1 Cor. xv. 22. 'in Adam all die;' undoubtedly therefore all sinned in Adam. For Adam being the common parent and head of all, it follows that, as in the covenant, that is, in receiving the commandment of God, so also in the defection from God, he either stood or fell for the whole human race; in the same manner as 'Levi also payed tithes in Abraham, whilst he was yet in the loins of his father,' Heb. vii. 9, 10. 'he hath made of one blood all nations of men,' Acts xvii. 26. For if all did not sin in Adam, why has the condition of all become worse since his fall? Some of the modern commentators reply, that the deterioration was not moral, but physical.[6] To which I answer, that it was as unjust to deprive the innocent of their physical, as of their moral perfection; espe <343> cially since the former has so much influence on the latter, that is, on the practical conduct of mankind.

It is, however, a principle uniformly acted upon in the divine proceedings, and recognized by all nations and under all religions from the earliest period, that the penality incurred by the violation of things sacred (and such was the tree of knowledge of good and evil) attaches not only to the criminal himself, but to the whole of his posterity, who thus become accursed and obnoxious to punishment. It was thus in the deluge, and in the destruction of Sodom; in the swallowing up of Korah, Numb. xvi. 27-32. and in the punishment of Achan, Josh. vii. 24, 25. In the burning of Jericho the children suffered for the sins of their fathers, and even the cattle were devoted to the same slaughter with their masters, Josh. vi. 21. A like fate befel the posterity of Eli the priest, 1. Sam. ii. 31, 33, 36. and the house of Saul, 2 Sam. xxi, 1, &c. because their father had slain the Gibeonites.

God declares this to be the method of his justice, Exod. xx. 5. 'visiting the iniquity of the fathers up on the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.' Numb. xiv. 33. 'your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms;' they themselves, however, not being guiltless. He himself explains the principle by which this justice is regulated, Lev. xxvi. 39. 'they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity..... and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.' 2 Kings xvii. 14. 'they hardened their necks, like to the necks of their fathers.' Ezek. xviii. 4. 'behold, all souls are mine: as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is <344> mine; the soul that sinneth it shall die.' The difficulty is solved with respect to infants, by the consideration that all souls belong to God; that these, though guiltless of actual sin, were the offspring of sinful parents, and that God foresaw that, if suffered to live, they would grow up similar to their parents. With respect to others, it is obviated by the consideration, that no one perishes, except he himself sin. Thus Agag and his people were smitten for the crime of their fathers, four hundred years after their ancestors had laid wait for Israel in the way, when he came out of Egypt, 1 Sam. xv. 2, 3. but at the same time they were themselves justly obnoxious to punishment for sins of their own, v. 33. So too Hoshea king of Israel was better than the kings that were before him, but having fallen into the idolatry of the Gentiles, he was punished at once for his own sins and for those of his fathers, by the loss of his kingdom, 2 Kings xvii. 3-4. Thus too the sins of Manasseh were visited on his children, but they themselves were far from being innocent, xxiii. 26. compared with Jer. xxv. 3, 4. 'because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal. From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day..... the word of the Lord hath come unto me; and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened.' 2 Kings xxiv. 3. 'for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did.' On the same principle the good king Josiah, and those who resembled him, were for the most part exempt from punishment; but the case was otherwise with the Pharisees, Matt. xxiii. 34, 35. 'some of them ye shall kill, &c. that <345> upon you may come all the righteous blood shed up on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias.'

Hence the penitent are enjoined to confess not only their own sins, but those of their fathers. Lev. xxvi. 40. 'if they shall confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers.' Nehem. ix. 2. 'they confess their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.' Many similar texts occur.

Thus also entire families become obnoxious to punishment for the guilt of their head. Gen. xii. 17. 'Jehovah plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai.' xx. 7. 'if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou and all that are thine.'

Subjects also are afflicted for the sins of their rulers; thus the whole of Egypt was smitten for the offence of Pharaoh. It is remarkable that David, even while remonstrating against the hardship of punishing the people for the sins of their king, yet thought it not unjust that the sons should suffer for and with their father. 2 Sam. xxiv. 17. 'lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly, but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father's house.'

Sometimes a whole nation is punished for the iniquity of one of the people. Josh. vii. and the trespass of one is imputed to all, v. 1, 11.

We may add, that even just men have not thought it inconsistent with equity to visit offences against themselves, not only on the offender, but on his posterity. Thus Noah scrupled not to pronounce the condem <346> nation of Canaan for the wickedness of his father Ham, Gen, ix. 25.[7]

This principle of divine justice in the infliction of piacular punishments was not unknown to other nations, nor was it ever by them accounted unjust. So Thucydides, Book I. Sect. 126. ἀπὸ τούτου ἐναγεῖς καὶ ἀλιτήριοι τῆς θεοῦ ἐκεῖνοί τε ἐκαλοῦντο, καὶ τὸ γένος τὸ ἀπ᾽ ἐκείνων. And Virgil, Æn. I. 39.

..... Pallasne exurere classem

Argivûm, atque ipsos potuit submergere ponto

Unius ob noxam?

The same might be easily shown by a multitude of other Pagan testimonies and examples.

Again, the possessions and right of citizenship of one convicted of high treason, a crime between man and man, are forfeited, not only as respects himself but all his posterity; and legal authorities decide similarly in other analogous cases. We all know what are the recognized rights of war, not only with regard to the immediate parties themselves, but all who fall into the power of the enemy, such as women and children, and those who have contributed nothing to the progress of the war either in will or deed.

The personal sin of each individual, is that which each in his own person has committed, independently of the sin which is common to all. Here likewise all men are guilty. Job ix. 20. 'if I justify <347> myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me.' x. 15. 'if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head.' Psal. cxliii. 2. 'in thy sight shall no man living be justified.' Prov. xx. 9. 'who can say, I am pure from my sin?' Eccles. vii. 20. 'there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not.' Rom. iii. 23. 'all have sinned.'

Both kinds of sin, as well that which is common to all, as that which is personal to each individual, consist of these two parts, whether we term them gradations, or divisions, or modes of sin, or whether we consider them in the light of cause and effect; namely, evil concupiscence, or the desire of sinning, and the act of sin itself. James i. 14, 15. 'every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed: then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin.' This is not ill expressed by the poet:

Mars videt hanc, visamque cupit, potiturque cupita.

Ovid. Fast. III. 21.

Evil concupiscence is that of which our original parents were first guilty, and which they transmitted to their posterity, as sharers in the primary transgression, in the shape of an innate propensity to sin.[8]

This is called in Scripture 'the old man,' and the 'body of sin,' Rom. vi. 6. Eph. iv. 22. Col. iii. 9. or simply 'sin,' Rom. vii. 8. 'sin taking occasion by the commandment.' v. 17. 20. 'indwelling sin.' v. 21. 'evil present with us.' v. 22. 'the law in our mem <348> bers' v. 24. 'the body of death,' viii. 2. 'the law of sin and death.'

The first who employed the phrase original sin is said to have been Augustine in his writings against Pelagius;[9] probably because in the origin, that is, in the generation of man, it was handed down from our first parents to their posterity. If however this were his meaning, the term is too limited; for that evil concupiscence, that law of sin, was not only naturally bred in us, but dwelt also in Adam after the fall, in whom it could not properly be called original.

This general depravity of the human mind and its propensity to sin is described Gen. vi. 5. 'God saw that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.' viii. 21. 'the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth.' Jer. xvii. 9. 'the heart is deceitful above all things.' Matt. xv. 19. 'out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders,' &c. Rom. vii. 14. 'the law is spiritual, but I am carnal.' Rom. viii. 7. 'the carnal mind is enmity against God.' Gal. v. 17. 'the flesh lusteth against the spirit.' Eph. iv. 22. 'the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.'

This depravity was engendered in us by our first parents. Job xiv. 4. 'who can bring a clean thing <349> out of an unclean?' xv. 14. 'what is man that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?' Psal. li. 5. 'behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.' lviii. 3. 'they go astray as soon as they be born.' Isai. xlviii. 8. 'thou wast called a transgressor from the womb.' John iii. 6. 'that which is born of the flesh is flesh.' Eph. ii. 3. 'we were by nature the children of wrath, even as others,' those even who are born of regenerate parents; for faith, though it takes away the personal imputation of guilt, does not altogether remove indwelling sin. It is not therefore man as a regenerate being, but man in his animal capacity, that propagates his kind; as seed, though cleared from the chaff and stubble, produces not only the ear or grain, but also the stalk and husk. Christ alone was exempt from this contagion, being born by supernatural generation, although descended from Adam. Heb. vii. 26. 'holy, undefiled.'

Some contend that this original sin is specially guiltiness; but guiltiness is not properly sin, but the imputation of sin, which is also called 'the judgement of God,'(Rom. i. 32. 'who knowing the judgement of God') whereby sinners are accounted 'worthy of death,' and become ὑπόδικοι, that is, 'guilty before God,' Rom. iii. 19. and 'are under sin,' v. 9. Thus our first parents, in whom, as above observed, there could have been no original sin, were involved in guiltiness immediately upon their fall; and their posterity, before original sin was yet engendered, were involved in the same guiltiness in Adam; lastly, guiltiness is taken away in those who are regenerate, while original sin remains.


Others define original sin to be the loss of original righteousness, and the corruption of the whole mind.[10] But before this loss can be attributed to us, it must be attributed to our first parents, to whom, as was argued before, original sin could not attach; in them therefore it was what is called actual sin, which these divines themselves distinguish from original sin. At any rate it was the consequence of sin, rather than sin itself; or if it were sin, it was a sin of ignorance; for they expected nothing less than that they should lose any good by eating the fruit, or suffer harm in any way whatever. I shall therefore consider this loss of original righteousness in the following chapter, under the head of punishment, rather than in the present, which relates to sin.

The second thing in sin, after evil concupiscence, is the crime itself, or the act of sinning, which is commonly called Actual Sin. This may be incurred, not only by actions commonly so called, but also by words and thoughts, and even by the omission of good actions.

It is called Actual Sin, not that sin is properly an action, for in reality it implies defect; but because it commonly consists in some act. For every act is in itself good; it is only its irregularity, or deviation from the line of right, which, properly speaking, is evil. Wherefore the act itself is not the matter of which sin consists, but only the ὑποκείμενοι or subject in which it is committed.


By words. Matt. xii. 56. 'every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof.' xv. 11. 'that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.'

By thoughts. Exod. xx. 17, 'thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house-.' Psal. vii. 14. 'behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.' Prov. xxiv. 8. 'he that deviseth to do evil-.' Jer. xvii. 9. 'the heart is deceitful above all things,' &c. Matt. v. 28. 'he hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.' xv. 19. 'out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.' 1 John iii. 15. 'whoso hateth his brother is a murderer.'

By omission. Matt. xii. 30. 'he that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad.' See also Luke xi. 23. and vi. 9. where to omit saving the life of a man is accounted the same as to destroy it. Matt. xxv. 42. 'I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat.' James iv. 17. 'to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.'

All sins however are not, as the Stoics maintained, of equal magnitude.[11] Ezek. v.6. 'she hath changed my <352> judgements into wickedness more than the nations.' viii. 15. 'thou shalt see greater abominations than these.' John xix. 11. 'he that delivereth me unto thee hath the greater sin.' This inequality arises from the various circumstances of person, place, time, and the like. Isai. xxvi. 10. 'in the land of uprightness, will he deal unjustly.'

The distinction between mortal and venial sin will come more properly under consideration in another place. In the mean time it is certain, that even the least sin renders the sinner obnoxious to condemnation. Luke xvi. 10. 'he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much.'


'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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