III. How many kinds of sin are there?

There are five principal divisions of sin. The first is that of original and actual sin. This distinction is taught in Rom. 5:14; 7:20; 9:11.

Original Sin

Original sin is the guilt of the whole human race, on account of the fall of our first parents. It consists in a want of the knowledge of God and of his will in the mind, and of an inclination to obey God with the heart and will; in the place of which there is an inclination to those things which the law of God forbids, and an aversion to those things which it commands, resulting from the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve, and from them made to pass over into all their posterity, thus corrupting our whole nature, so that all, on account of this depravity, are subject to the eternal wrath of God; nor can we do anything pleasing to him, unless forgiveness be obtained for the sake of the Son of God, our Mediator, and the Holy Ghost renew our nature. Of this kind of sin it is said, "Death reigned even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression." "In sin did my mother conceive me." (Rom. 5:14. Ps. 51:7.) Original sin comprehends, therefore, these two things: exposure to eternal condemnation on account of the fall of our first parents, and a depravity of our entire nature since the fall. Paul includes both, when he says: "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all, for that all have sinned." (Rom. 5:12.) The same thing is expressed, although somewhat more obscurely, in the common definition of original sin which is generally attributed to Anselm:

"Original sin is a want of original righteousness which ought to be in us." Original righteousness was not only a conformity of our nature with the law of God, but it also included divine acceptance and approbation. In the place of this conformity with the divine law, we now have depravity; and in the place of this approbation, we have the displeasure of God, which has followed in consequence of the fall. The same thing is true of that definition of Hugo: " Original sin is that which we inherit from our birth, through ignorance in the understanding, and concupiscence in the flesh."

In opposition to this doctrine of original sin, the Pelagians formerly believed, and taught, as the Anabaptists do at this day, that there is no original sin—that posterity are not guilty on account of the fall of our first parents, and that sin is not derived from them by propagation; but that every one sins, and contracts guilt only by imitating the bad examples of others. Augustin refuted these Pelagians in many books. There are others, who admit that we are all guilty on account of the fall of our first parents, but deny that we are born with such depravity as that which deserves condemnation; for the want of righteousness, and the propensity to evil which we all have by nature, they contend, cannot be regarded as sins.
We must hold, and maintain, hi opposition to all these heretics, these four propositions:

• That the whole human race is subject to the eternal wrath of God on account of the disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve.

• That we are also, even from the moment of our birth, destitute of righteousness, and have inclinations contrary to the law of God.

• That this want of righteousness, and these inclinations with which we are born, are sins, and deserve the eternal wrath of God.

• That these evils are derived and contracted, not only by imitation, but by the propagation of the corrupt nature which we have all, Christ excepted, derived from our first parents.

The first, second, and third propositions have been already sufficiently demonstrated; the fourth is proven:

First, by the testimony of Scripture. "We are all by nature the children of wrath even as others." "By the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation." "By one man's disobedience many were made sinners." "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean ?" "I was born in iniquity." "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (Eph. 2:3. Rom. 5:6, 19. Job 14:4. Ps. 51:7. John 3:5.)
Secondly, infants die, and are to be baptized. Therefore they must have sin. But they cannot sin by imitation. It remains, therefore, that it must be born in them, according as it is said: "Thou wast called a transgressor from the womb." "The heart of man is evil from his youth." (Is. 48:8. Gen. 8:21.) Ambrose says: " Who is just before God, when an infant but a day old cannot be free from sin?"

Thirdly, everything that is born has the nature of that from which it has proceeded, as it respects the substance, and accidents of the species to which it belongs. But we are all born of corrupt and sinful parents; therefore we all, by our birth, inherit, or become, partakers of their corruption and guilt.

Fourthly, by the death of Christ, who is the second Adam, we obtain a twofold grace: we mean justification and regeneration. It follows, therefore, that we must all have derived from the first Adam the twofold evil of guilt and corruption of nature, otherwise there had been no necessity for a twofold grace and remedy.

Obj. 1. If original sin be transmitted from parents to their offspring, it must be either through the body, or through the soul. But it cannot be through the body, because it is destitute of reason. Nor can it be through the soul, because this is not produced by transmission, or derived from the soul of the parent, since it is a substance which is spiritual and indivisible; nor is it created corrupt, since God is not the author of sin. Therefore, original sin is certainly not transmitted by nature.
Ans. We deny the minor proposition; because the soul, although created pure and holy by God, may nevertheless contract corruption from the body into which it is infused, even though it be destitute of reason. Nor is it absurd to say that the corrupt constitution of the body, with its propensity to evil, is an unfit instrument for the good actions of the soul, and that the soul, not established in righteousness, may become polluted, and so fall from its own integrity, so soon as it becomes united with the body. We also deny the consequence of the above syllogism, for the reason that the parts which are enumerated in the first proposition are not properly expressed. Original sin is neither transmitted through the body, nor through the soul, but through the transgression of our first parents; on account of which, God, even whilst he creates the soul, at the same time deprives it of original righteousness, and such other gifts as he conferred upon our first parents upon the condition that they should transmit them to, or lose them for, their posterity, according as they themselves should retain or lose them. Nor is God, by this act, unjust, or the cause of sin; for this want of righteousness in respect to God, who inflicts it on account of the disobedience of our first parents, is no sin, but a most just punishment; although, in respect to our first parents, who drew it upon themselves and their posterity, it is a sin. The fallacy of the above argument will now be apparent if we state more fully the major proposition: original sin is transmitted to posterity either through the body, or through the soul, or through the transgression of our first parents, and the desert of this want of righteousness. For just as original sin came to exist in our first parents on account of their transgression, so it is transmitted to posterity on account of the same. This is not that small chink, or unimportant subject, about which the schoolmen disputed so warmly, whether the soul be transmitted from our parents by generation, and whether it becomes polluted by its connection with the body; but it is that wide gate through which original sin flows violently and infects our nature, as Paul testifies when he says: "By one man's disobedience many were made sinners. (Rom. 5:19.)

To this it is objected: The want of original righteousness is sin. God has inflicted this, by creating in us a soul destitute of those gifts which he would have conferred upon Adam had he not sinned. Therefore he is the author of sin. Ans. Phere is in the minor proposition a fallacy of accident. This want of righteousness is sin in respect to Adam and us, since by his, and our fault we have drawn it upon ourselves, and now eagerly receive it. That the creature should be destitute of righteousness and of conformity to God, is repugnant to the law, and is sin. But in respect to God, it is a most just punishment of disobedience; which punishment is in harmony with the nature and law of God.

It is further objected: God ought not to punish the transgression of Adam with such a punishment as that which he knew would result in the destruction of the whole nature of man.
Ans. God's justice must be satisfied, even if the whole world should perish. It, moreover, behooved him to avenge in this manner the obstinacy of man, from regard to his extreme justice and truth. An offence committed against the highest good, deserves the most extreme punishment, which consists in the eternal destruction of the creature; for God has said "Thou shalt surely die." It is, therefore, of his mercy that he should rescue any from this general ruin, and save them through Christ.
Obj. 2. It is natural that we should desire objects; therefore these desires are no sins. Ans. Such desires as are directed upon proper objects, and which God has excited and ordained, are no sins. But such as are inordinate, and contrary to the law, are sins. For to desire is not of itself sinful, inasmuch as it of itself is good, because it is natural; but to desire contrary to the law is sin.

Obj. 3. Original sin is removed, as far as it respects the saints; therefore they cannot transmit it to their offspring.
Ans. The godly are indeed delivered from original sin as it respects the guilt thereof, which is remitted unto them through Christ; but in as far as it respects its formal character and essence,--that is, as an evil opposing itself to the law of God, it remains. And although those to whom sin is remitted are at the same time regenerated by the Holy Ghost, yet this renewal of their nature is not perfect in this life; therefore they transmit the corrupt nature which they themselves have to their posterity.

To this it is objected: That which the parents do not possess, they cannot transmit to their posterity. The guilt of original sin is taken away from all those parents who have been regenerated. Therefore, at least, guilt cannot be transmitted. Ans. The major is to be distinguished. Parents do not transmit to their children that which they have not by nature; for they are freed from the guilt of sin, not by nature, but by the grace of Christ. It is for this reason that they do not transmit to their posterity, by nature, the righteousness which is imputed unto them by grace; but they transmit the corruption and condemnation to which they are by nature subject. And the reason why they transmit their guilt, and not their righteousness, is this: their children are born, not according to grace, but according to nature. Nor are we to conceive of grace and justification as restricted, and transmitted by carnal propagation, but by the most free election of God. Jacob and Esau are examples of this, &c. Augustin illustrates this by two forcible comparisons. The one is that of the grains of wheat, which, although they are sown after having been separated from their stalk, chaff, beard, and ear, by threshing, still spring out of the earth again, with all these. This comes to pass because the threshing and cleaning are not natural to the grain, but are the work of human industry. The other is that of a circumcised father, who, although lie himself has no foreskin, yet begets a son with one; and this also happens because circumcision was not upon the father by nature, but by the covenant.

Obj. 4. If the root or tree be holy, the branches are also holy; therefore the children of those that are holy are also holy, and free from original sin. (Rom. 11:16.)
Ans. There is here an incorrectness in the use of terms that are ambiguous in their signification; for holiness, as it is here used, does not signify freedom from sin, or purity of heart, but that dignity and privilege peculiar to the posterity of Abraham; because God, on account of the covenant which he made with Abraham, promised that he would at all times dispose some of his seed to do his will, and would grant unto them true inward holiness; and also because they had obtained a right and title to his church.

Obj. 5. But the children of believers are holy, according to the declaration of St. Paul, 1 Cor. 7:14. Therefore they have no original sin.
Ans. This is an incorrect conclusion, drawn from a perversion of the figure of speech that is here employed: for when it is said they are holy, it does not mean that all the children of the faithful are regenerated, or that they obtain holiness by carnal propagation; for it is said, in Rom. 9:11, 13, of Jacob and Esau, that the one was loved and the other was hated before they were born, or had done good or evil; but it means that the children of the godly are holy as it respects the external fellowship of the church that they are considered citizens and members thereof, and as being included in the number of those who are called, and sanctified, unless when they come to years of maturity they bear testimony against themselves by their impiety and unbelief, and so declare that they have forfeited all their rights and privileges.

Obj. 6. If sin be transmitted to posterity by natural generation, then those who will live at the latest period of the history of the human race will have to bear the sins of all the previous generations, whilst those who lived before them will have borne the sins of only a portion of their ancestry; consequently those who will live last upon the earth will be the most miserable, which is absurd and inconsistent with the justice of God.
Ans. It would not be absurd, even if God were to desert, and punish more heavily, the last of our race: for the greater the number of sins that are committed, and treasured up by the human race, the more fiercely does his anger burn, and the more aggravated are the punishments which he inflicts upon men, according to what is written: "The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." "That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias," &c. (Gen. 15:16. Matt. 22:35.) We may also reply, that although God in his justice permits original sin, or the corruption and guilt of our nature, to pass upon all the posterity of Adam, yet he, at the same time, of his mercy, sets bounds to this sin, that posterity may not always suffer punishment for the actual transgression of their ancestors, nor imitate them; and that the children of wicked parents may not be evil, or worse and more miserable than their parents.

Obj. 7. But it is said, Ez. 18:20, that the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father; therefore it is unjust that posterity should endure punishment for the Sin of Adam.
Ans. The son shall not, indeed, bear the iniquity of the father, nor make satisfaction for his transgression, if he does not approve of it, nor imitate it, but condemns and avoids it. But we justly suffer on account of the sin of Adam: 1. Because all of us approve of, and follow his transgression. 2. Because the offence of Adam is also ours; for we were all in Adam when he sinned, as the Apostle testifies: "We have all sinned in him." (Rom. 5:12.) 3. Because the entire nature of Adam became guilty; and as we have proceeded from his very substance,--being, as it were, a part of him,-we must also necessarily be guilty ourselves. 4. Because Adam had received the gifts of God upon the condition that he would also impart them unto us, if he retained them; or lose them for us also, if he lost them. Hence it is, that when Adam lost these gifts, he did not merely lose them for himself, but also for all his posterity.

Obj. 8. All sin implies an exercise of the will. But infants are not capable of such an exercise of the will as is necessary, in order to the commission of sin. Therefore they cannot be said to commit sin.
Ans. The whole argument is conceded, as far as it has respect to actual sin, but not as it relates to original sin, which consists.in the depravity of our nature. Again, we deny what is affirmed in the minor proposition, because infants are not destitute of the power of willing; for although they may not be able to will sin as something that is actually done, yet they do will in inclination.

Obj. 9. The corruption and evils of our nature rather deserve pity than censure and punishment. Aristotle himself declares: "That no man censures the defects which attach themselves to our nature." Original sin is a defect and corruption of our nature. Therefore it does not deserve punishment.
Ans. The major proposition is true of such evils as are brought upon us, not by our negligence or wickedness, as if any one should be born blind, or become so by disease, or by a stroke from another. Such an one would indeed deserve to be pitied, rather than upbraided. But evils which we have all wickedly brought upon ourselves, as is the case with original sin, are justly deserving of censure, as Aristotle also testifies, when he adds: "But every one finds fault with such an one as becomes blind by excess of wine, or any other wicked action." So much concerning original sin.