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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
On Marriage and Concupiscence.: Chapter 20

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 20.—Original Sin is Derived from the Faulty Condition of Human Seed.

This, however, I would not say, as implying at all that we must look for some other creator than the supreme and true God, of either human seed or of man himself who comes from the seed; but as meaning, that the seed would have issued from the human being by the quiet and normal obedience of his members to his will’s command, if sin had not preceded. The question now before us does not concern the nature of human seed, but its corruption. Now the nature has God for its author; it is from its corruption that original sin is derived. If, indeed, the seed had itself no corruption, what means that passage in the Book of Wisdom, “Not being ignorant that they were a naughty generation, and that their malice was inbred, and that their cogitation would never be changed; for their seed was accursed from the beginning”? 2238 Now whatever may be the particular application of these words, they are spoken of mankind. How, then, is the malice of every man inbred, and his seed cursed from the beginning, unless it be in respect of the fact, that “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for in him all have sinned”? 2239 But where is the man whose “evil cogitation can never be changed,” unless because it cannot be effected by himself, but only by divine grace; without the assistance of which, what are human beings, but that which the Apostle Peter says of them, when he describes them as “natural brute beasts made to be taken and destroyed”? 2240 Accordingly, the Apostle Paul, in a certain passage, having both conditions in view,—even the wrath of God with which we are born, and the grace whereby we are delivered,—says: “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ; by whose grace we are saved.” 2241 What, then, is p. 291 man’s “natural malice,” and “the seed cursed from the beginning;” and what are “the natural brute beasts made to be taken and destroyed,” and what the “by nature children of wrath”? Was this the condition of the nature which was formed in Adam? God forbid! Inasmuch as his pure nature, however, was corrupted in him, it has run on in this condition by natural descent through all, and still is running; so that there is no deliverance for it from this ruin, except by the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ.



Wis. 12:10, 11.


Rom. v. 12.


2 Pet. ii. 12.


Eph. ii. 3-5.

Next: Chapter 21

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