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"A Reformed Catholic", William Perkins (3) Original Sin after Baptism

The next point handled by Perkins in A Reformed Catholic, is concerning Original Sin after baptism. In particular how far it remains after baptism.

Perkins highlight the importance of this consideration "... because hereupon depend many points of popery". So we now come to this our third instalment.

I. Our consent.

They say, natural corruption after baptism is abolished, and so say we: but let us see how far it is abolished. In original sin are three things:

I. The Punishment, which is the first and second death.

II. Guiltiness, which is the binding up of the creature unto punishment.

III. The Fault or the Offending of God, under which I comprehend our guiltiness in Adam's first offence, as also the corruption of the heart: which is, a natural inclination and proneness to any thing that is evil or against the law of God.

For the first we say, that after baptism in the regenerate, the punishment of original sin is taken away: There is no condemnation (saith the Apostle) to them that be in Christ Jesus. Rom. 8. 1.

For the second, that is the guiltiness, we further condescend and say; that is also taken away in them that are born anew: for considering there is no condemnation to them, there is nothing to bind them to punishment. Yet this caveat must be remembered, namely that the guiltiness is removed from the person regenerate, not from the sin in the person; but of this more afterward.

Thirdly, the guilt in Adam's first offence is pardoned. And touching the corruption of the heart, I avouch two things: I. That, that very power or strength wherby it reigns in man, is taken away in the regenerate. II. That this corruption is abolished (as also the fault of every actual sin past) so far forth as it is the fault and sin of the man in whom it is. Indeed it remains till death, and it is sin considered in itself, so long as it remains, but it is not imputed unto the person: and in that respect is as though it were not; it being pardoned.

II. The dissent or difference

Thus far we consent with the Church of Rome: now the difference between us stands not in the abolishment, but in the manner, and the measure of the abolishment of this sin.

Papists teach, that Original Sin is so far taken away after baptism, that it ceases to be a sin properly: and is nothing else but a want, defect, and weakness, making the heart fit and ready to conceive sin: much like tinder, which though it be no fire of itself, yet is it very apt and fit to conceive fire. And they of the Church of Rome deny it to be sin properly, that they might uphold some gross opinions of theirs, namely, That a man in this life may fulfill the law of God; and do good works void of sin: that he may stand righteous at the bar of God's Judgement by them.

But we teach otherwise, that though Original Sin be taken away in the regenerate, and that in sundry respects: yet does it remain in them after baptism, not only as a want and weakness but as a sin, and that properly: as may by these reasons be proved.

Reason I

Rom. 7. 17. Paul saith directly: It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me: that is, Original Sin. The Papists answer again, that it is so called improperly: because it comes of sin and also is an occasion of sin to be done. But by the circumstances of the text, it is sin properly: for in the words following, Saint Paul saith, that this sin dwelling in him, made him to do the evil which he hated. And v. 24. he crieth out, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death? whence I reason thus:

That which once was sin properly, and still remaining in man makes him to sin, and entangles him in the punishment of sin, and makes him miserable: that is sin properly. But Original Sin does all these. Ergo.

Reason II

Infants baptised and regenerate, die the bodily death before they come to the years of discretion: therefore original sin in them is sin properly; or else they should not die, having no cause of death in them: for death is the wages of sin, as the Apostle saith, Rom. 6. 23. and Rom. 5. 12. Death entered into the world by sin. As for actual sin they have none, if they die presently after they are born before they come to any use either of reason, or affection.

Reason III

That which lusts against the spirit, and by lusting tempts, and in tempting entices and draws the heart to sin, is for nature sin itself: but concupiscence in the regenerate lusts against the spirit, Gal. 5. 17. and tempts as I have said, Jam. 1. 14. God tempteth no man, but every man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own concupiscence, and is enticed: then when lust conceiveth, it bringeth forth sin. And therefore it is sin properly: such as the fruit is, such is the tree. Augustine, Concupiscence against which the spirit lusteth IS SIN, because in it there is disobedience against the rule of the mind: and it is the punishment of sin because it befalls man for the merits of his disobedience: and it is the cause of sin (Aug. contra Jul. l. 5. cap. 3.).

Reason IV

The judgement of the ancient Church.


Charity in some is more, in some less, in some none: the highest degree of all which cannot be increased, is in none, as long as man lives upon earth. And as long as it may be increased, THAT WHICH IS LESS THEN IT SHOULD BE, IS IN FAULT: by which fault it is, that there is no just man upon earth that doth good and sinneth not: by which fault none living shall be justified in the sight of God: for which fault, if we say we have no sin, there is no truth in us: for which also, though we profit never so much, it is necessary for us to say, forgive us our debts, though all our words, deeds, and thoughts be already forgiven in baptism (August. epist. 29.)

Indeed Augustine in sundry places seems to deny concupiscence to be sin after baptism: but his meaning is, that concupiscence in the regenerate is not the sin of the person in whom it is. For thus he expounds himself, This is not to have sin, not to be guilty of sin. (ad Valer. lib. 1. c. 24.)

And, The law of sin in baptism is remitted and not ENDED. ( Lib. 2. contra Jul.)

And, Let not sin reign: he saith not, let not sin be, but let it not reign. For as long as thou livest, of necessity sin will be in thy members: at the least, let it reign not in thee, &c. (Tract. 42. in John.)

Objections of Papists Answered

The arguments which the Church of Rome alleges to the contrary, are these.

Objection I

In baptism men receive perfect and absolute pardon of sin; and sin being pardoned is taken quite away: and therefore original sin after baptism ceases to be sin.


Sin is abolished two ways: first in regard of imputation to the person: secondly in regard of existing and being. For this cause, God vouchsafes to man two blessings in baptism, remission of sin, and mortification of the same. Remission or pardon abolishes sin wholly in respect of any imputation thereof unto man, but not simply in regard of the being thereof. Mortification therefore goes further, and abolishes in all the powers of body and soul, the very concupiscence or corruption itself, in respect of the being thereof. And because mortification is not accomplished till death, therefore original corruption remains till death, though not imputed.

Objection II

Every sin is voluntary; but original sin in no man after baptism is voluntary: and therefore no sin.


The proposition is a politic rule pertaining to the courts of men, and must be understood of such actions as are done of one man to another: and it does not belong to the court of conscience, which God holds and keeps in men's hearts, in which every want of conformity to the law is made a sin. Secondly, I answer that original sin was voluntary in our first parent Adam: for he sinned, and brought this misery upon us willingly: though in us it be otherwise upon just cause. Actual sin was first in him, and then original corruption: but in us original corruption is first, and then actual sin.

Objection III

Where the form of any thing is taken away, there the thing itself ceases also: but after baptism in the regenerate, the form of original sin, that is, the guilt is quite removed: and therefore sin ceases to be sin.


The guilt, or obligation to punishment, is not the form of original corruption, but (as we say in schools) an accident or necessary companion thereof. The true form of original sin, is a defect and deprivation of that which the law requires at our hands in our mind, will, affections, and in all the powers both of soul and body. But they urge this reason further, saying; where the guilt and punishment is taken away, there is no fault remaining: but after baptism the guilt and punishment is removed: and therefore, though original corruption remain, it is not as a fault to make us guilty before God, but only as a weakness.


Guilt is removed, and not removed. It is removed from the person regenerate, which stands not guilty for any sin original or actual: but guilt is not removed from the sin itself; or, as some answer, there be two kinds of guilt, actual, and potential. The actual guilt is, whereby sin makes man stand guilty before God: and that is removed in the regenerate. But the potential guilt, which is an aptness in sin, to make a man stand guilty if he sin, that is not removed: and therefore still sin remains sin. To this or like effect saith Augustine, We say that the guilt of concupiscence, not whereby IT IS GUILTY (for that is not a person) but that whereby it made man guilty from the beginning, is pardoned, and that the thing ITSELF IS EVIL so as the regenerate desire to be healed of this plague.(Contra Jul. l. 6. c. 6.)

Objection IV

Lastly, for our disgrace they allege that we in our doctrine teach, that original sin after baptism is only clipped or pared, like the hair of a man's head, whose roots still remain in the flesh, growing and increasing after they are cut, as before.


Our doctrine is abused: for in the paring of any thing as in cutting of the hair or in lopping a tree, the root remains untouched, and thereupon multiplies as before. But in the mortification of original sin after baptism, we hold no such paring: but teach, that in the very first instant of the conversion of a sinner, sin receives his deadly wound in the root, never afterward to be recovered.

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