The principal Arguments of the Pelagians.

Obj. 1. Natural things are not sins. Concupiscence is natural. Therefore it is no sin.
Ans. There is here a fallacy of the accident in the minor proposition; for inordinate concupiscence was not before the fall, but became joined to our nature after the fall. It is therefore not natural in itself, but is by an accident, inasmuch as it is now, since the fall, born with us; or it is natural in this sense, that it is an evil accident connecting itself inseparably with a nature good in itself. Or we may reply to the objection thus: there are four terms in this syllogism arising from the ambiguity of the word natural. In the major it signifies a thing created good by God naturally; viz., a natural desire of man before the fall, which was not contrary to the will of God. But in the minor it signifies a thing which does not properly belong to us by creation, but which we have brought upon ourselves by the fall.

To this it is objected: a natural desire or inclination which works those things which contribute to the preservation of man, and avoids those which are injurious, is not sinful, even though it belongs to a corrupt nature, because it is created by God, and is a desire good in itself. Such, now, is concupiscence. Therefore, it is no sin. Ans. We reply to the major proposition, that appetites and desires are good in themselves, in as far as they are mere desires. It is different, however, with those desires which are inordinate, and which are directed upon objects prohibited by God, as is the case with all the appetites and desires of our corrupt nature; because, they are either not directed upon such objects as they ought, or not in the manner and with the design with which they should be, so that they are all corrupt and sinful. “An evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit.” (Matt. 7:18.) To desire the fruit of a tree was natural; but to desire it contrary to the express command of God, as Eve did, was in its own nature wicked and sinful.

Obj. 2. That which it is impossible for us to produce in ourselves, or to prevent, is no sin. Concupiscence, now, is in us in such a way that we can neither throw it off, nor produce it in ourselves. Therefore, it is no sin.
Ans. The major proposition is false: for sin is not to be estimated by any liberty or necessity of our nature, but by the law and will of God. Whatever is in opposition to the law is sin, whether men have power to avoid it or not. Nor does God do any injustice to us by requiring from us that which we cannot perform; because he demanded these things of us when they were possible, and gave us the power to perform them. And although we have now lost this power, yet God has not lost his right to demand what he committed to our trust. For further remarks upon this subject, we would refer the reader to what has been said in the exposition of the ninth Question of the Catechism, page 66.

Obj. 3. Sin renders man obnoxious to the eternal wrath of God. Concupiscence does not expose those who are regenerated to the wrath of God: for there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:1.) Therefore, concupiscence is no sin, at least not in the regenerate.
Ans. There is a fallacy of accident in the minor proposition; for that concupiscence does not condemn the regenerate, comes to pass by an accident, which is the grace of God, which does not impute it to the faithful. This, however, does not occur in this way, as though concupiscence were no sin; for other sins in like manner do not condemn the regenerate, not because they are no sins, but because they have obtained the pardon of them through Christ.

Obj. 4. Original sin is removed in baptism. Therefore, concupiscence is no sin in those who are baptized. We reply to the antecedent, that original sin is not simply and wholly removed in baptism; but merely as it respects its guilt. Corruption and an inclination to sin remain still in those who are baptized. This is what the Schoolmen mean, when they say, the formal part of sin is removed, but the material remains. Should any one reply, that where the formal part of sin is removed, there the thing itself is removed, inasmuch as the form gives being to the thing; so that original sin itself must be removed in baptism; we answer, that there is here an error in understanding that to be spoken generally, which is true only in a certain respect. The formal part of sin is removed, not simply, but in respect to the guilt of sin; for the formal part of sin is two-fold, and includes, 1. Opposition to the law, and an inclination to sin. 2. Guilt, or desert of punishment. The guilt of sin is removed, but the inclination remains. “I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind.” (Rom. 7:23).