aA
aA
aA
Works of James Arminius, Vol. 1
« Prev ARTICLES XIII AND XIV Next »

ARTICLES XIII AND XIV

Original Sin will condemn no man.

In every nation, all infants who die without [having committed] actual sins, are saved.

ANSWER

These articles are ascribed to Borrius. To augment their number, they have made them two, when one would have been sufficient, from which the other necessarily follows, even according to their own opinion. For if "original sin condemns no one," it is a necessary consequence that "all those will be saved who have not themselves committed actual transgressions." Of this class are all infants without distinction; unless some one will invent a state between salvation and damnation, by a folly similar to that by which, according to St. Augustine, Pelagius made a distinction between salvation and the kingdom of heaven.

But Borrius denies having ever publicly taught either the one or the other. He conferred indeed in private on this subject, with some candidates for Holy Orders: and he considers that it was not unlawful for him so to do, or to hold such an opinion, under the influence of reasons which he willingly submits to the examination of his brethren; who, when they have confuted them, may teach him more correct doctrine, and induce him to change his opinion. His reasons are the following:

1. Because God has taken the whole human race into the grace of reconciliation, and has entered into a covenant of grace with Adam, and with the whole of his posterity in him. In which he promises the remission of all sins to as many as stand steadfastly, and deal not treacherously, in that covenant. But God not only entered into it with Adam, but also afterwards renewed it with Noah, and at length confirmed and perfected it through Christ Jesus. And since infants have not transgressed this covenant, they do not seem to be obnoxious to condemnation; unless we maintain, that God is unwilling to treat with infants, who depart out of this life before they arrive at adult age, on that gracious condition under which, notwithstanding, they are also comprehended as parties to the covenant; and therefore that their condition is much worse than that of adults, to whom is tendered the remission of all sins, not only of that which they perpetrated in Adam, but likewise, of those which they have themselves personally committed. The condition of infants, however is, in this case, much worse, by no fault or demerit of their own, but because it was God’s pleasure thus to act towards them. From these premises it would follow, that it was the will of God to condemn them for the commission of sin, before He either promised or entered into a covenant of grace; as though they had been excluded and rejected from that covenant by a previous decree of God, and as though the promise concerning the saviour did not at all belong to them.

2. When Adam sinned in his own person and with his free will, God pardoned that transgression. There is no reason then why it was the will of God to impute this sin to infants, who are said to have sinned in Adam, before they had any personal existence, and therefore, before they could possibly sin at their own will and pleasure.

3. Because, in this instance, God would appear to act towards infants with far more severity than towards the very devils. For the rigor of God against the apostate angels was extreme, because he would not pardon the crime which they had perpetrated. There is the same extreme rigor displayed against infants, who are condemned for the sin of Adam. But it is much greater; for all the [evil] angels sinned in their own persons, while infants sinned in the person of their first father Adam. On this account, the angels themselves were in fault, because they committed an offense which it was possible for them to avoid; while infants were not in fault, only so far as they existed in Adam, and were by his will involved in sin and guilt.

These reasons are undoubtedly of such great importance, that I am of opinion those who maintain the contrary are bound to confute them, before they can affix to any other person a mark of heresy. I am aware, that they place antiquity in opposition, because [they say] its judgment was in their favour. Antiquity, however, cannot be set up in opposition by those who, on this subject, when the salvation of infants is discussed, are themselves unwilling to abide by the judgment of the ancients. But our brethren depart from antiquity, on this very topic, in two ways:

(1.) Antiquity maintains, that all infants who depart out of this life without having been baptized, would be damned; but that such as were baptized and died before they attained to adult age, would be saved. St. Augustine asserts this to be the Catholic doctrine in these words: "If you wish to be a Catholic, be unwilling to believe, declare, or teach, that infants who are prevented by death from being baptized, can attain to the remission of original sins." (De anima et ejus Orig., lib. 3, cap. 9.) To this doctrine our brethren will by no means accede; but they contradict both parts of it.

(2.) Antiquity maintains that the grace of baptism takes away original sin, even from those who have not been predestinated; according to this passage from Prosper of Aquitain: "That man is not a Catholic who says, that the grace of baptism, when received, does not take away original sin from those who have not been predestinated to life." (Ad Cap. Gallorum, Sent. 2.) To this opinion also our brethren strongly object. But it does not appear equitable, that, whenever it is agreeable to themselves, they should be displeased with those who dissent from them, because they dissent from the Fathers; and again, that, whenever it is their good pleasure, the same parties do themselves dissent from the Fathers on this very subject.

But with respect to the sentiments of the ancient Christian Fathers, about the damnation of the unbaptized solely on account of original sin, they and their successors seem to have mitigated, or at least, to have attempted to soften down such a harsh opinion. For some of them have declared, "that the unbaptized would be in the mildest damnation of all;" and others, "that they would be afflicted, not with the punishment of feeling, but only with that of loss." To this last opinion some of them have added, "that this punishment would be inflicted on them without any stings from their own consciences." Though it is a consequence of not being baptized, that the parties are said to endure only the punishment of loss, and not that of feeling; yet this feeling exists wherever the stings or gnawings of conscience exists, that is, where the gnawing worm never dies. But let our brethren consider what species of damnation that is which is inflicted on account of sin, and from which no gnawing remorse proceeds.

From these observations, thus produced, it is apparent what opinion ought to be formed of the Fourteenth Article. It is at least so dependent on the Thirteenth, that it ought not to have been composed as a separate article, by those who maintain that there is no cause why infants should perish, except original sin which they committed in Adam, or which they received by propagation from Adam. But it is worth the trouble to see, on this subject, what were the sentiments of Dr. Francis Junius, who a few years ago was Professor of Divinity in this our University. He affirms, that "all infants who are of the covenant and of election, are saved;" but he presumes, in charity, that "those infants whom God calls to himself, and timely removes out of this miserable vale of sins, are rather saved." (De Natura et Gratia, R. 28.) Now, that which this divine either "affirms according to the doctrine of faith," or "presumes through charity," may not another man be allowed, without the charge of heresy, to hold within his own breast as a matter of opinion, which he is not in the least solicitous to obtrude on others or persuade them to believe? Indeed, "this accepting of men’s persons" is far too prevalent, and is utterly unworthy of wise men. And what inconvenience, I pray, results from this doctrine? Is it supposed to follow as a necessary consequence from it, that, if the infants of unbelievers are saved, they are saved without Christ and his intervention?. Borrius, however, denies any such consequence, and has Junius assenting with him on this subject. If the brethren dissent from this opinion, and think that the consequences which they themselves deduce are agreeable to the premises, then all the children of unbelievers must be subject to condemnation, the children of unbelievers, I repeat, who are "strangers from the covenant." For this conclusion no other reason can be rendered, than their being the children of those who are "strangers from the covenant." From which it seems, on the contrary, to be inferred, that all the children of those who are in the covenant are saved, provided they die in the age of infancy. But since our brethren deny this inference, behold the kind of dogma which is believed by them. "All the infants of those who are strangers from the covenant are damned; and of the offspring of those parents who are in the covenant, some infants that die are damned, while others are saved." I leave it to those who are deeply versed in these matters, to decide, whether such a dogma as this ever obtained in any church of Christ.

« Prev ARTICLES XIII AND XIV Next »

Advertisements


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |