On Concupiscence, & that Desires of & Pre-Motions to Sin are Sinful, Even Without an Explicit Consent of the Will

“Thou shalt not covet…”

Ex. 20:17

“…for I had not known lust, except the law had said, ‘Thou shalt not covet.’  But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence…  but I am carnal, sold under sin.  For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I… Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing…  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  O wretched man that I am!”

Rom. 7:15-24

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

James 1:14-15

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Subsection

On the Classifications & Degrees of Sin, & the Distinction Between Venial & Mortal Sin

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Order of Contents

Intro
Westminster
Articles  10+
Quotes  4
Does Ignorance Excuse Sin?  4
On the Romanist Distinction Between the Guilt of Culpability & the Guilt
.       of Punishment  3
Latin  12+

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Intro

 

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Westminster

Shorter Catechism

“Q. 14. What is sin?

Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God. (1 John 3:4)”

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Confession of Faith

Ch. 6.2-6

“II.  By this sin they [our first parents] fell from their original righteousness, and communion with God,[c] and so became dead in sin,[d] and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.[e]

[c] Gen. 3:6-8Eccl. 7:29Rom. 3:23.
[d] Gen. 2:17Eph. 2:1.
[e] Tit. 1:15Gen. 6:5Jer. 17:9Rom. 3:10-18

III…  and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by ordinary generation.[g]

[g] Ps. 51:5Gen. 5:3Job 14:4Job 15:14

IV. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good,[h] and wholly inclined to all evil,[i] do proceed all actual transgressions.[k]

[h] Rom. 5:6Rom. 8:7Rom. 7:18Col. 1:21.
[i] Gen. 6:5Gen. 8:21Rom. 3:10-12.
[k] James 1:14,15Eph. 2:2,3Matt. 15:19.

V. This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated:[l] and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.[m]

[l] 1 John 1:8,10Rom. 7:14,17,18,23James 3:2Prov. 20:9Eccl. 7:20.
[m] Rom. 7:5,7,8,25Gal. 5:17

VI. Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto,[n] doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner,[o] whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God,[p] and curse of the law,[q] and so made subject to death,[r] with all miseries spiritual,[s] temporal,[t] and eternal.[u]

[n] 1 John 3:4.
[o] Rom. 2:15Rom. 3:9,19.
[p] Eph. 2:3.
[q] Gal. 3:10.
[r] Rom. 6:23.
[s] Eph. 4:18.
[t] Rom. 8:20Lam. 3:39.
[u] Matt. 25:412 Thess. 1:9

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Larger Catechism

Q. 99.1-2

“1. That the law is perfect, and bindeth every one to full conformity in the whole man unto the righteousness thereof, and unto entire obedience for ever; so as to require the utmost perfection of every duty, and to forbid the least degree of every sin.[o]

[o] Ps. 19:7James 2:10Matt. 5:21,22.

2. That it is spiritual, and so reacheth the understanding, will, affections, and all other powers of the soul; as well as words, works, and gestures.[p]

[p] Rom. 7:14Deut. 6:5 compared with Matt. 22:37-39Matt. 5:21,22,27,28,33,34,37-39,43,44

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Articles

1500’s

Willet, Andrew – Synopsis Papismi…  (1592)

12th Controversy, Of Baptism, Question 6, 1st Part, ‘Whether in Baptism our Sins be Clean Taken Away?’, pp. 437-8

Controversies on the Benefits of Our Redemption, 2nd Part, 1st Question, Of Sin, 1st Part, ‘Of Original Sin’, pp. 558-9

Willet (1562–1621) was a reformed, conforming Anglican clergyman, controversialist and prolific writer.  He was known for his anti-papal works. 

Perkins, William – ch. 2, ‘Of Original Sin [After Baptism]’  in A Reformed Catholic…  ([Cambridge] 1598)

Perkins (1558-1602) was a father of puritanism in England.

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1600’s

Abbot, Robert – ch. 2, ‘Original Sin [After Baptism]’  in The Second Part of the Defense of [William Perkins’s] The Reformed Catholic…  (London, 1607)

Abbot (1560-1617) was a reformed Anglican and a professor of divinity at Oxford who wrote extensively against Romanism.

A Roman seminary professor, Dr. Bishop had systematically replied to William Perkins’s The Reformed Catholic, which was a systematic refutation of Romanism.  Perkins was deceased, so Abbot systematically refuted Bishop.  Block quotes of Bishop alternate with Abbot’s commentary thereon. 

Davenant, John – The Determinations, or Resolutions of Certain Theological Questions, Publicly Discussed in the University of Cambridge  trans. Josiah Allport  (1634; 1846)  bound at the end of John Davenant, A Treatise on Justification, or the Disputatio de Justitia...  trans. Josiah Allport  (1631; London, 1846)

Question 1, ‘Concupiscence in the Regenerate is Sin’, pp. 209-217

Question 16, ‘A Proneness to Evil does Not Flow From the Principles of Uncorrupt Nature’, pp. 301-306

The philosophical doctrine of many Romanists has been that Adam, by nature, in his uncorrupt state, was prone to what is sinful by the lower attractions and impulses of his nature not being fully subordinate to his higher reason.  Thus he was given supernatural grace to prevent this. 

However, at the Fall, Romanists hold, this supernatural grace was taken away, and the attractions and impulses of man’s lower nature unto sin, not being fully subordinate to good ends by his higher reason, remains; but this concupiscence (Rom. 7) is not actually sinful, they hold, when it is not fully consented to by the will.

“Certain Jesuits have eagerly embraced this error, with no other design (as it appears to me) than that they might ground their other most grievous errors upon this foundation.” – p. 301

Rutherford, Samuel – in Rutherford’s Examination of Arminianism:
The Tables of Contents with Excerpts from Every Chapter  trans. Johnson & Fentiman  (1638-43; 1668; 2019)

Ch. 5, ‘Of the Estate of the First Man’

4. ‘Whether sinful concupiscence is a negative entity or positive quality?  We distinguish.’, pp. 82-83

Ch. 6, On Original Sin

2. ‘Whether, because original sin is not committed by personal volition, it is therefore not sin, properly so-called?  We deny against the Arminians.’, pp. 83-84

6. ‘Whether concupiscence is sin when one does not give consent of the will?  We affirm against the Pelagians.’, pp. 84-85

Turretin, Francis – Institutes (P&R)

vol. 1, 9th Topic

Q. 2, ‘Whether the Hekousion or Voluntary (inasmuch as it is of him who Knowingly & Willingly does Anything) is of the Essence of Sin?  We Deny Against the Papists & Socinians.’  in Institutes, 1.593-94

vol. 2, 11th Topic, ‘The Law of God’

Q. 21, ‘What Concupiscence is Prohibited by the Tenth Precept?  Are the Incipient Motions Sins?  We Affirm.’  134-137

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Quotes

1500’s

Peter Vermigli

Commentary on Romans  (London, 1568), Ch. 7, p. 166

“[W]e ought certainly to hold, that in this precept, ‘Thou shalt not lust’, are prohibited our corrupt inclination and evil motions of the mind, which we should not acknowledge to be sins, unless the law had showed them unto us.  Aristotle, Pigghius and such other like, for that they were ignorant of the law of God, contend that these are not precepts.”

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1600’s

William Perkins

Works (RHB), vol. 4, pp. 484-485

“They [Romanists] disannul the last Commandment [of the Ten Commandments] by holding concupiscence before consent to be no sin, when as we know by God’s Word that the first evil motions in us are sins.”

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William Ames

Conscience with the Power & Cases Thereof  (1639), bk. 3, ch. 19, ‘Of a Voluntary Act’, p. 93

“Question 5.  What are we to judge of those actions which are done through concupiscence.

10th Answer.  Concupiscence does not make an act cease to be voluntary, neither does it indeed diminish the voluntariness of it in respect of the act, but increases it rather.  For he that does a thing out of concupiscence, has a will strongly inclined to that which it does, as is appears either delightful or profitable to him; if therefore the concupiscence be fixed, the sin’s the greater, as it was in Judas, who betrayed Christ out of covetousness of [money].”

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Samuel Rutherford

Free Disputation, p. 346

“I may argue no man can pretend to be free of sin in the inclination of the heart and original guiltiness, Job 4:4; Ps. 51:5; Gen. 8:21; Prov. 20:9; 1 John 1:8,10; Eccl. 7:20.”

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Does Ignorance Excuse Sin?

Quotes

Samuel Rutherford

A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience…  (1649), ch. 2, p. 34

“That a man should duly, and as he ought, believe, and receive the decision of a synod, it must be both true and he must believe and know that it is true; but [on the other hand,] that it may oblige him and does oblige him, whether his conscience be erroneous, or no[t], is as true, for then this Commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’, ‘Honor thy father and thy mother’, should lay no obligation on a man that believes it is service to God to kill the apostles, as, John 16, some do.  For no man is exempted from an obligation to obey God’s Law because of his own sinful and culpable ignorance, for we speak not now of invincible ignorance of these things which we are not obliged to know or believe.

But if our sinful and erroneous conscience free us from actual obligation to be tied by a law, then our erroneous conscience frees us from sinning against a law, and so from punishment; for whatever frees a man from actual obligation frees him also from actual sinning: for all sin is a doing against a Law-obligation; and if so, then are none to be led by any rule but their own conscience: the written Law and Gospel is not henceforth our rule any more.”

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A Peaceable & Temperate Plea...  (1644), p. 145

“…the meat is infected to me, whether I know it or no[t], and if I be obliged to know it, and know it not, my ignorance is sinful, and does not excuse me.”

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The Due Right of Presbyteries… (1644), Ch. 3, Section 3,
Question 4, pp. 41-49

“1. Because in a question of law all ignorance is moral and culpably evil to any who undertakes actions upon conscience of obedience to others; for to all within the visible Church the Word of God is exactly perfect for faith and manners, and
everyone is obliged to know all conclusions of law that are determinable by God’s Word.

2. Every one in his actions is to do out of a plerophory, and a full persuasion, of heart, that what he does pleases God, Rom. 14:14, ‘I know and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean of itself.’

3. We are to do nothing but what is lawful and what in our consciences we are persuaded is lawful, and are to know what is sin and what is no sin… because every one is obliged to know morally what concerns his conscience, that he be not
guilty before God…”

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A Free Disputation...  (1649)

p. 34

“For no man is exempted from an obligation to obey God’s Law because of his own sinful and culpable ignorance, for we speak not now of invincible ignorance of these things which we are not obliged to know or believe.

But if our sinful and erroneous conscience free us from actual obligation to be tied by a law, then our erroneous conscience frees us from sinning against a law, and so from punishment, for whatever frees a man from actual obligation, frees him also from actual sinning, for all sin is a doing against a Law-obligation, and if so, then are none to be led by any rule but their own conscience, the written Law and Gospel is not henceforth our rule any more.”

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p. 106

“…for the most malicious sin against knowledge has an interpretative ignorance conjoined with it, as the Pharisees who sinned against the Holy Ghost, in crucifying Christ (some of them as is clear, John 8:28; 9:40-41 and elsewhere) yet they sinned ignorantly also, for had thy known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory, 1 Cor. 2:8.”

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p. 189

“…yet while they are heathen fathers and heathen masters, they neither can, nor are obliged actually to teach anything of the Gospel, they never hearing of the Gospel, are obliged not to believe in a Christ of whom they never heard, Rom. 10:14-16, and those that Christ was never preached to, are not condemned for Gospel-unbelief, John 15:22.”

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p. 190

“it’s a sin in an Indian prince, and he sins against his magistratical office in that he punishes not an Indian false-teacher who teacheth against the Law of nature [which is universally known], because an Indian should not worship the Devil; but the Indian ruler invincibly ignorant of the Gospel sins not against his office as a magistrate because he punishes not a Gospel-heretic, for he is not obliged to every magistratical act as a magistrate, not to those of which he is invincibly and faultlessly ignorant, as an Indian husband and master invincibly ignorant of the Gospel sins not against the duty of a husband and head of a family, though he teach not wife, children and servants, the principles of the Gospel, which a Christian husband and head of a family is obliged to do, not as a husband and head of a family simply, but as such a husband and head as hears the Gospel, and so either hears and knows, or may hear these Gospel principles if he were not thereof ignorant through his own sinful neglect.”

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p. 343

“If he take vincible, as opposed to invincible ignorance, he Popishly then says that the Scripture offers to us many things whereof we may be invincibly ignorant.  Now invincible ignorance, Protestants acknowledge only in matters of fact, or of gospel-truths never so much as in the letter revealed, as heathens may be invincibly ignorant of Christ, and their ignorance not be sinful, as John 15:22, and Jacob was invincibly ignorant in lying with Leah instead of Rachel.

There can be no such vincibleness, or invincibleness, in an heretic that hears the Gospel, for whoever hear the Gospel and yet remain ignorant, their ignorance is not invincible, Nulla est invincibilis ignorantia juris [Nothing is invincible ignorance in law].”

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Lex Rex…  (London, 1646), pp. 119-121

“If a people trusting in the goodness of their Prince, enslave themselves to him, and he shall after turn tyrant; a rash and temerarious surrender obliges not, Et ignorantia facit factum quasi involun∣tarium: Ignorance makes the fact some way involuntary; for if the people had believed that a meek king would have turned a roaring lion, they should not have resigned their liberty into his hand; and therefore the surrender was tacitly conditional to the king as meek, or whom they believed to be meek, and not to a tyrannous lord; and therefore, when the contract is made for the utility of the one party [only], the law says their place is for after wits, that men may change their mind, and resume their liberty…”

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The Due Right of Presbyteries  (1644)

pt. 1, p. 45

“…and the ignorance of any questions which may be cleared by God’s Word, is vincible and culpable, for the Law says, ‘The ignorance of these things which we are obliged to know is culpable, and excuses not.’ (Reg. juris Culpabilis est ignorantia rerum quas scire tenemur.)

But thirdly, a question of fact is properly a question whether this Corinthian committed incest or no, whether Titus committed murder, or no, and in this there is sometimes invincible ignorance when all diligence morally possible is given to come to the knowledge of the fact.”

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pt. 2, p. 378

1.  The object of these opinions would be distinguished:  2. The persons, weak or strong. 3. The manner of refusing instruction, or of admitting light, of mere weakness, or of obstinacy.  For the first, if the matter be faultless or light, as eating meats or not eating meats, in time when they are merely indifferent, and the person weak and scarce capable of disputation, he is to be tolerated, and not received into knotty and thorny disputations about things indifferent: for so Paul, Rom. 14, is to be understood, when he will not have the weak taken in [Greek]: so Michael strove with the angel [the Devil] disputing, [Greek].

If the matter concern an institution of Christ, and our necessary practice in a Church, and the party be not weak: It is a question what makes obstinacy, and what tenderness and weakness.  Turrecremata says, he who is ready to yield to light, is not obstinate; Scotus: gross ignorance; Canus says, affected ignorance makes obstinacy; Malderus says that gross ignorance may leave a man ready to yield to the information of the Church; Alphonsus a Castro says better, he is obstinate who 1. defends an opinion against the Scripture, or, says he (which is his error) against the definition of a general Council, or of the Pope.  2. Who being admonished, does not amend. 3. Who seeks not resolution from the learned, with a purpose to render himself truth’s captive. 4. Who swears that he shall adhere to the end to that opinion.

By the light and knowledge of the holder of the opinion, it may be collected whether he seeks truth, and is ready to yield himself and his understanding thereunto: and except the point be fundamental, it can hardly be judged heresy: if the point may be holden without any scandal, or breach of peace, much tolerance is required where error seems to be a temptation to holy men, but final tolerance, and unlimited, where the party is of great knowledge, and has sway in the minds of many, to prevail to draw others after him, is harder.”

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Westminster

“Q. 14. What is sin?

Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God. (1 John 3:4)”

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Articles

1600’s

Davenant, John – Question 45, ‘Ignorance Does Not Excuse Sin’  in The Determinations, or Resolutions of Certain Theological Questions, Publicly Discussed in the University of Cambridge  trans. Josiah Allport  (1634; 1846), pp. 469-74  bound at the end of John Davenant, A Treatise on Justification, or the Disputatio de Justitia...  trans. Josiah Allport  (1631; London, 1846), vol. 2

Rutherford argues above from Scripture that invincible ignorance excuses from sin.  Davenant argues the contrary.

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Latin

Rutherford, Samuel – Ch. 1, ‘On the Scriptures & Fundamental Articles’, 6. ‘What is Overcomeable Versus Absolute Ignorance of the Fundamentals [of the Christian Faith]? Explained.’  in The Examination of Arminianism  (1639-42; Utrecht, 1668), pp. 38-42

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On the Romanist Distinction Between the Guilt of Culpability & the Guilt of Punishment  We Deny.

Articles

1500’s

Willet, Andrew – 14th Controversy, Of Penance, 7th Question, Of Satisfaction, 1st Part, ‘Whether the Punishment Remain, the Sin being Once Pardoned?’  in Synopsis Papismi…  (1592), pp. 437-8

Willet (1562–1621) was a reformed, conforming Anglican clergyman, controversialist and prolific writer.  He was known for his anti-papal works.

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1600’s

Davenant, John – Question 33, ‘When Guilt is Remitted, its Punishment is Remitted’  in The Determinations, or Resolutions of Certain Theological Questions, Publicly Discussed in the University of Cambridge  trans. Josiah Allport  (1634; 1846), pp. 391-93  bound at the end of John Davenant, A Treatise on Justification, or the Disputatio de Justitia...  trans. Josiah Allport  (1631; London, 1846)

Turretin, Francis – Institutes  (P&R), vol. 1, 9th Topic

Q. 3, ‘Whether Guilt is the Formal of Sin, or its Inseparable Adjunct, or Only its Effect.  And Whether it May Well be Distinguished into Guilt of Culpability & of Punishment.’, pp. 594-96

Romanists, in not considering a nature of concupiscence to be sin, thus explain its existence after the Fall to not be due to the guilt of culpability, but only as the punishment due upon Adam’s transgression, which does not involve culpability itself.

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Latin Articles

1500’s

Szegedin Pannonius, Stephan – II. ‘Of Man’, ‘Things which are of Man’, ‘Concupiscence’  in Common Places of Pure Theology, of God & Man, Explained in Continuous Tables and the Dogma of the Schools Illustrated  (Basil, 1585/93), pp. 223-24

Szegedin (1515-1572) also was known as Stephan Kis.

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1600’s

Pareus, David – 6 Books on the Loss of Grace & the State of Sin by Robert Bellarmine…  to which three following are joined, on Original Sin, are Explicated & Castigated  (Heidelberg, 1613)

Selections 88-100  ToC

Selection 108  ToC

Pareus (1548-1622) was a German Reformed Protestant theologian and reformer.

Rutherford, Samuel – An Examination of Arminianism…  (c. 1639-43; Utrecht, 1668)

4. ‘Whether concupiscence is sin, particularly after baptism and regeneration?  We affirm against the Remonstrants and Papists.’, pp. 314-316

5. ‘Whether concupiscence is formally prohibited by the law of God?  We affirm against the Remonstrants and Papists’, pp. 316-18

7. ‘Whether the wrestling between the flesh and the Spirit in the reborn is simply natural, and on the part of the resisting flesh, so minimally culpable?  We deny against the Remonstrants.’, p. 319

8. ‘Whether the wrestling between the Spirit and the flesh in the regenerate is perpetual and culpable?  We affirm against the Remonstrants.’, pp. 524-7

Chamier, Daniel

Panstratiae Catholicae, or a Body of the Controversies of Religion Against the Papists, vol. 3 (Man)  (Geneva, 1626)

Bk. 10, ‘Of Sanctification & Justification’, chs. 4-20, pp. 274-313  ToC

Chamier (1564–1621)

“The name of Chamier (d. 1621) is one of the greatest, not only among Calvinistic divines, but in all theological literature.  His Panstratiae Catholicae (1626) is the ablest work from a Calvinistic hand in in the great Roman Catholic Controversy, and takes its general rank with books like Chemnitz’s Examen and Gerhard’s Confessio Catholica.  It was prepared at the request of the Synod of Larochelle.  There is no difference of opinion among competent judges as to its distinguished merits, and it is justly regarded among all Calvinists as one of the highest authorities.” – Krauth, a Lutheran, p. 47

A Body of Theology, or Theological Common Places  (Geneva, 1653)

Bk. 4, ch. 11, ‘Of Concupiscence’, pp. 141-43

Bk. 5, ch. 18, ‘Of Concupiscence in the Regenerate’, pp. 233-36

Du Moulin, Pierre – ch. 54, ‘Of the Perfection of Righteousness, or the Fulfillment of the Law, & is Concupiscence a Sin?’  in A Collection of the Theological Disputations held at Various Times in the Academy of Sedan, vol. 1  (Geneva, 1661), pp. 474-81

Du Moulin (1568-1658)

Hoornbeek, Johannes – Bk. 10, ch. 23, ‘Of Concupiscence’  in Practical Theology, vol. 2  (Utrecht, 1663; 1689), pp. 607-611

Rissen, Leonard – Locus 9, ‘Of Sin’, Controversy 2, ‘Whether Concupiscence, which Remains in the Regenerate After Baptism, is Truly Sin, Worthy of Death?’  in A Sum of Didactic and Elenctic Theology, out of Our Theologians, especially out of Francis Turretin’s Institutes of Theology, so augmented & Illustrated  (Bern, 1676; 1690)

Here is an introduction to the life of Rissen (1636-1700).

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1700’s

Vitringa, Sr., Campegius – ch. 10, ‘Of Concupiscence’  in The Doctrine of the Christian Religion, Summarily Described through Aphorisms, vol. 2  (d. 1722), pp. 292-295

Vitringa, Sr. (1659-1722) was a professor in Franeker and a Hebraist.  “…Vitringa…  maintained a fairly centrist Reformed position…  Vitringa and De Moor serve as codifiers and bibliographers of the earlier tradition, the former from a federalist, the latter from a nonfederalist perspective.”

“Admirable text-book, full of quotations.” – Howard Malcom

van Mastricht, Petrus – Bk. 3, ch. 8, ‘Of Contention & Perverse Concupiscence’  in The Idea of Moral Theology  in Theoretical & Practical Theology  (Utrecht, 1724), pp. 1257-1258

Van Mastricht (1630-1706)

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