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CHAPTER LThat Original Sin is transmitted from our First Parent to his Posterity

THIS expressly appears from the words of the Apostle: As by one man sin came into the world, and by sin death, so death passed on to all men, seeing that all have sinned (Rom. v, 12)956956The locus classicus in Scripture on original sin, Romans V, 12-21, is fully considered in my Notes on St Paul pp. 340-347.. It cannot be said that by one man sin entered into the world by way of imitation, because in that interpretation sin would have reached only to those who imitate the first man in sinning; and since by sin death came into the world, death would reach only those who sin in the likeness of the first man that sinned. But to exclude this interpretation the Apostle adds: Death reigned from Adam to Moses even over those who did not sin in the likeness of the transgression of Adam. The Apostle’s meaning therefore was not that by one man sin entered into the world in the way of imitation, but in the way of origin.

Moreover, the common custom of the Church is to administer baptism to new-born children. But there would be no purpose in such administration, unless there were sin in them. If it is said that the purpose of infant baptism is not the cleansing of sin, but the arriving at the kingdom of God, the saying is nonsensical. They who say so, appeal to our Lord’s words: Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John iii, 5).957957No one enters the kingdom of God except he have sanctifying grace. God’s first arrangement was to give sanctifying grace to every man in the moment when He created the man’s rational soul. To speak as we should speak of a human scheme, this arrangement was defeated by Adam’s sin. Consequently upon that sin, God arranged to give sanctifying grace, ordinarily, not in creation, but in baptism. Before baptism, the infant is devoid of sanctifying grace. That void is not a mere negation, it is a privation: for it is an absence of that which the child ought to have, if it is to answer to its Maker’s design of leading all mankind to grace and the vision of Himself. Whence this privation? Through the sin of Adam, the head and representative of the human race, and therefore of that child. This privation of sanctifying grace, as traceable to the sin of the first parent, is original sin in that child. The fact is, no one is excluded from the kingdom 380of God except for some fault. For the end of every rational creature is to arrive at happiness; which happiness can be only in the kingdom of God; which kingdom again is nothing else than the organised society of those who enjoy the vision of God, in which true happiness consists (B. III, Chap. LXIII).958958Understand, ‘in the present order of providence,’ not in that possible, but unrealised order of mere nature, in which God never intends to raise His rational creature to grace and beatific vision. Cf. B. III, Chap. L, with notes. In the order of mere nature, what Catholic divines now understand by ‘original sin’ would have been an impossibility. Of this difficult doctrine of original sin, the best English exposition is in the Essay on the Immaculate Conception in the late Father Harper’s Peace through the Truth, First Series. But nothing fails to gain its end except through some fault or flaw. If then unbaptised children cannot arrive at the kingdom of God, we must say that there is some fault, flaw, or sin in them.


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