By Christopher Ness (1621- 1705)

(A must read for all the Redeemed Children of God.  Transcribed from an out-of-print old book titled, “A Divine Legacy Bequeathed unto all Mankind” by Michael Jeshurun. You will not find this anywhere else on the World Wide Web.)

Man’s life is a warfare! (Job 7:1 Margin), which the Septuagint reads to signify a place of pirates as Paul was in perils often both by sea and land, so are we all the while in this lower world; for Satan is both a robber by land (that seeks not for straw but for gold, as Chris autumn’s thief did say of himself) and he’s a pirate at sea hanging out false colours to get in with us, not whom to bite, but whom to devour, (1Pet 5:8) where the word signifies to swallow up at one mouthful and that no less than our precious and immortal souls; therefore is he called in the Hebrew Abaddon – a bad one indeed, or in the Greek the Wicked one –  both names which signify a Destroyer.

He is a broken bankrupt himself and ordained for destruction, and therefore his whole work is to involve all mankind in his own misery, accounting it some comfort to have companions therein. He hunts not as Nimrod that cruel Hunter for our money, houses, lands or liberties, but for our very lives (as the Harlot does (Prov 7:23) to steal away our souls from God, and the crown of glory from us, he is called in scripture by such names as are all of a destroying nature, as

  1. A Dragon
  2. A Lion
  3. A Serpent
  4. A Wolf
  5. A Murderer
  6. A Tormentor
  7. A Fowler and Hunter
  8. Beelzebub

A Devil doing evil often, and therefore it is no less than a miracle of mercy that we are not all of us destroyed by him through his craft and cruelty, his power and policy, especially considering how he hath the upper ground over us as he is the Prince of the Power of the Air, (Eph 2:2), when we are but weak and worthless worms crawling here below upon the earth insomuch that his Territories lay betwixt us and heaven, which is our Father’s house. Therefore was Lazarus’ soul carried by Angels through the regions of the air into Abraham’s bosom, Luke 16:22.

Besides it ought to be considered with seriousness how Satan our adversary (as it signifies) proved too hard for the innocent man Adam, too hard for the strongest man Samson, and too hard for the wisest man Solomon: If he could over master all these three who were green trees, what can we dry trees expect? (Luke 23:31) If this strong man, yea and armed too, even with Armour of proof, (Luke 11:21) became a conqueror over Adam in his state of innocency; how much more may he more easily master the best of us? If this foul fall befell Adam in the Garden of Eden, Oh what may befall us who are now cast out of Paradise upon the dirty dunghill of this present evil world?! (Gal 1:4) It may be said of the best of us as it was said of young Troilus’s grappling with great Achilles, there was Impar Congressus Achilli (No match for Achillēs), a very unfit and unequal match betwixt them: Yea so bold and daring is this Devil, that he dared to assault the Second Adam (as he had done before the first Adam hoping for the same success) Even the Son of God himself, who only could indeed over-match him, not only for himself, but more specially for all His Redeemed!

Moreover Satan is a Restless Adversary out of his unspeakable hatred against God and all goodness; as it is said of the Scorpion, there is not one minute of time wherein he does not thrust out his sting but keeps it in a continual and speedy motion of poisoning and destroying whatever he can reach; even so and much more that Old Serpent will watch night and day to sting our souls worse than the Fiery Serpents did the bodies of the children of Israel Num 21.

Consider also how Satan is an ubiquitary adversary (one who found everywhere); his circuit he walks is the whole earth. (Job 1:7; 2:2) He is called the god of this world which lieth in wickedness, As the true God in the beginning did but speak the Word by is creating power and every creature in the whole creation was perfectly wrought; so if Satan do but hold up his finger or give but the least whisper to his vassals (his subordinate servants), they are at his beck and obedience. He leads them captive at his will (2Tim 2:26) and this he does all over the world. No land or island is free from him, but the whole universe may be called (as one part of it) is Terra Diaboli, the Devil’s land; he is the ruler of the darkness of this world (Eph 6:12) He is a God in this sense because there is no fleeing from his presence. Our base hearts and a busy devil will meet us in all lands. And likewise to the above said how he is an everlasting adversary both 1.In respect of the great world; he began betimes with the first man and woman in the world, and he had continued ever since to this present time and he will continue even to the end until our Lord lays hold on him and chain him up for a thousand years. (Rev 20)

2. And in respect of the little world, man, who is an epitome of the great world, Satan begins betimes even at our very conception. For as the serpent was more subtle than all the beasts of the field, so Satan’s subtlety was most manifest in this matter, that when his Luciferian pride had metamorphosed him from a glorious angel as he was created into a damned devil, and therefore was cast out of heaven into hell, and understanding how God designed to fill up that habitation, (which he had left with his angels (Jude 6) by a remnant Redeemed out of mankind, (Rev 12:12) hating man’s Redeemer with a perfect hatred and sinning that unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost every moment, and that his cruelty to us is managed with the profoundest craft and policy as apparent in this that he stayed not to pour his poison into every vessel as it was brought forth into the world; but he pours it into the Fountain or Spring Head of Mankind, well knowing that in poisoning our first parents, he did likewise poison ALL their posterity in all succeeding ages to the end of the world. Thus saith the Apostle – by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin and so death passed upon all men for that all have sinned, and Vs 14 death has reigned from Adam to Moses (and so down to us in our day) even over them that have not sinned after the similitude of Adams transgression.

So that infants are not innocents, being born with Original Sin – the first sheet wherein they are wrapped is woven in Sin, shame, blood and filth, (Ezk 16:4,6) They are said to sin as they were in the loins of Adam, just as Levi is said to pay tithes to Melchizedek even in the loins of his forefather Abraham. (Heb 7:9,10) Otherwise infants would not die, for death is the wages of sin, (Rom 6:23) and the reign of death is procured by the reign of sin, which hath reigned over all mankind, except Christ. All are sinners infected with the guilt and filth of sin, the rot (according to the vulgar saying) overrunneth the whole flock. Hence David reflects upon Original Sin as the original cause of all his actuals, saying, “Behold I was shapen iniquity and in Sin did my mother conceive me”. Psalm 51:5.

Thus Man’s Malady begins betimes even in our conception ; this subtle Serpent sowed his tares very early so that we are all born in our sin, (John 9:34) Adam begat a son in his own image (Gen 5:3) and his children’s teeth are set on edge after he had eaten the sour fruit of the forbidden tree (Ezk 18:2). The same hand that was reached forth to that forbidden fruit, reached out both Sin and Death to the fruit of his lions wherein that fruit was seminally, as the branches are in a common stock; the actual sin did not determine the bound of misery in himself, but it brought a second misery with it, that even the misery of the whole nature of mankind.

Adam was the representative or public person representing the whole mass of mankind, even as a parliament man represents the whole country he is chosen for. While Adam stood we all stood in him; while he kept his obedience in his state of innocency, he kept his whole estate and nature safe and entire; but when he fell we all fell in him; in Adam all die, (1Cor 15:22) Though WE did not choose him yet GOD did choose him for us as our representative; and his sin was the greatest sin (next to that sin against the Holy ghost) as it had many aggravations against the greater Light, and the greater Love that ever was vouchsafed to any man, and therefore it was just with God so to punish not only himself, but his whole Nature also for that sinful act. Hereby all the sons and daughters of Adam came to be deprived of Original Righteousness, we are all alienated from the life of God (Eph 4:18), born children of wrath (Eph 2:3) and come short both of God’s glory and our own duty. (Rom 3:23)

Adam first defiled the nature of mankind and ever since the defiled Nature hath defiled the whole offspring thereof, leaving them under the curse of God, and liable unto death in the latitude of it, even unto Death, Temporal, Spiritual and Eternal. The fall of Adam was the death of himself and the death of us, yea and also it was the death of our dear Redeemer to redeem us from spiritual and eternal death. Now as is the root so are the branches, as is the fountain so are the waters that flow from it; that which is begotten doth follow the nature of that which begetteth; for who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one! (Job 14:4) That which is born of the flesh is flesh, (John 3:6) One corrupt thing brings forth another, yea, the sower soweth clean grain, yet even that brings forth chaff (as well as wheat) from which it was winnowed before it was sown.

Father Augustine saith, there is nothing more certain than Original Sin, yet nothing more secret and hard to be understood how it is conveyed from parents to children. Many disputes there be about the manner how sin is propogated from Adam to his offspring. Such discourses upon the empty place are but empty things. It is sufficient for us to know that God by a just imputation doth realise the infection into the whole race of Adam in whom we were as in a common lump, and in his leaven we are all sowed. We know that leprous parents do beget leprous children and there be diseases which are called hereditary and incurable by man. We took this infection from our parents and we transmitted it to our children, so come we to be called ‘a seed of evil doers’ ‘children that are corrupters as well as corrupted’.

I have read the story of some foolish people, who falling into a pit, fell a disputing one with another as to how they came there, & c. but one wiser than the rest advised them to lay aside those niceties, and rather consult about some proper means whereby they might all be delivered out of that danger, without which they were in all probability like to perish. Even such are those vain ventilations about this abstruse point of sin’s entrance into the world, whether by that one person Adam’s fall, or by every ones fall in his own person. The frothy wits of the Arminians do fondly deny Original Sin. But such as are wise to Salvation have learnt better lessons in Christ’s school, and they feel otherwise in the school of their own smarting experience. Therefore we ought all seriously to consider, how the Greek Fathers call it the Seed-plot of all actual transgressions, & c. and the Latin Fathers call it the lasting Fuel that feeds the fire of our burning lusts. But above all, how the Holy Scriptures doth characterize it, calling it the Body of Sin, (Rom 6:6) and the Sin that dwells in us, (Rom 7:17) and the Law of the members, ver 23 and that which doth so easily besets us, (Heb 12:1) and David calls it the iniquity of the heels ( which was ready to trip him up and lay him along upon the ground at every turn and return of the Tempter upon him) Psalm 49:5.

And if we do as little Zacchaeus did, namely, climb up the Sycamore tree to take a full prospect of his lovely Lord from top to toe, (Luk 19:3,4) so if we get up into the mount of the Old and New Tetament, and take a full view of the foulness of Original Sin; the right Scriptural account of Original Sin is this:
1. That man who had been God’s delight before, Prov 8:31 became both hated of God Ps. 5:5 and an hater of God, Rom 1:30 – where in the Greek it is a word which signifies to hate God as Hell!

2. That fallen man has become intensively evil, protensively only evil, and extensively always and continually evil in the thoughts and imaginations of his heart, Gen 6:5.

3. That man’s heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, Jer 17:9.

4. His thoughts are thoughts of iniquity Isa 59:7.

5. He walks in the vanity of his mind, Eph 4:17. having his understanding darkened, and his heart blinded, ver 18.

6. His conscience is defiled Titus 1:15

7. His eyes are full of adultery and he cannot cease from sin, 2Pet 2:14

8. His throat is an open sepulchre, and the poison of asps is under his tongue and lips & c. Rom 3:13,14.

9. In a word, all man’s members and faculties are marred and maimed by the Fall of Adam (as might more largely be demonstrated from Scripture) the first man defiled nature, and ever since Nature hath defiled every man; his whole Frame is out of frame; whole evil is in man, and the whole man is in evil. As in Noah’s Flood, not any one part of the earth could be seen dry, even so not any one part of man can be found that is not infected with this Original Pollution; and the chief cause of all our actual sins, is charged, not upon Satan, but upon this evil concupiscence that is inbred in us, James 1:15.

The Tempter might strike fire long enough in vain, if we did not find him dry tinder for his sparks to fall upon! WE cannot say as our sinless Lord said, “the Prince of this world cometh and finds nothing in Me.” – that is, to favour his temptation, John 14:30. But alas, when he comes to tempt us, he finds a treacherous party within, this Birth-sin of ours, which betrays us often times into his hands, as hath happened unto some cities besieged, whose gates have been opened by some traitorous citizens within for a free entrance of the enemy that were besieging it round about. Hence is it, that all men are said in Holy Scripture to be dead in sin, Eph 2:1. and bond-slaves to Satan, Heb 2:15. and subject to all calamities of this life under the curse of God, Gal 3:10.

Yea and good men, even the best of men are but men at the best; or Original Sin in them is stronger than their Grace; for if God should leave us with our stock of Grace that He hath graciously given us, and let us be alone but a while in the hands of our own counsels, this Sin of our nature would easily swallow up our stock of Grace; Woe unto us when God departs from us, Hosea 9:12. The reason is, because Grace given to us is like putting of hot water into that which is cold: though this will warm it for the present, yet the water will reduce itself into its own natural temper of coldness, unless fire be kept continually under it. Take another example, as a river would run the shortest way to the sea, were it let alone to its own tendency by nature; but we see the various situations of the earth, (in some places higher than others) and by the art and industry of man the most rapid river is made to run in crooked streams (in and out) to break its forcible passage; even so this Original Sin would drive all persons the shortest way to Hell, were it not that it meets with not only the several tempers and dispositions of Nature in the Sons and Daughters of mankind, which makes it work variously according their various constitutions, as David saith – :I have kept myself from my iniquity” Ps. 18:23. i.e. from my constitution sin & c. but also and that more especially, through the overruling power of God, and that by two ways:

  1. Either by giving restraining grace , even to Pagans as He did to that pagan king Abimelech, Gen 20:6. whereby God kept him at a modest distance from meddling with Sarah, Abraham’s wife, which otherwise he would have undoubtedly defiled, seeing so many kings (though called Christian) make it their too common practice.
  2. By giving renewing Grace, even to His own chosen and called ones, whereby He changeth their natures so that one of the ancient Fathers tells this story of a young man, who had been for some time entangled with an harlot, and meeting with some remorse of conscience, he withdrew from her some occasions and fled to another country, and after a little time returning home, this impudent whore meets him, takes hold of him and says to him, “I am the same woman I was when you left me; at which he smartly replied to her, “But I am not the same man I was, through the grace of God”, whereby he saith with David, “the snare is broken, and my soul is delivered.” Ps. 124:7. Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old thngs are passed away and behold all things are become new. 2Cor 5:17.

    When Christ comes He saith “Behold I make all things new” Rev 21:5. both all the members of the Body, and all the faculties of the soul: these all were formerly weapons of wickedness unto sin, but now become weapons of righteousness unto Holiness Rom 6:13-19. so that Christ makes new understandings, new wills, new memories, new consciences, & c. in the inner man; yea and new tongues, hands and feet – to talk, walk and work for God in the outward man.

    Let this likewise be well weighed, how this original pollution of the fallen nature is like the first confused chaos at the creation of the world, which had the seeds of all several kinds of creatures in it, and that prolific virtue continues unto this day; even so in Original Sin, lays the spawn of all several kinds of sins which lasteth all our lives, until death destroy this body of death at the last, as the other will last while the world lasteth. So this fretting leprosy of sin is typically described in the law of that plague, Lev 14:41-45. The house which hath the contagion, all the scraping of the walls within it will not cleanse it until the house itself with the stones and timber be broken down, yea and it begins betimes as well as it lasts long.

    This sour leaven doth leaven the whole lump with its sourness, and spreads itself over all the ages of man, as Infancy, Childhood, Youth and Old age.
    1. Infancy – Austin’s story [Vidi Zelantem parvulum] I myself saw a little one rise up in rage against his fellow suckling for beguiling him of his mother’s milk; from which the ancient Father proves and confesses, that sin began betimes both in himself and in others.
    2. Childhood – there is much folly bound up in the heart of a child (Prv 22:15) as saddles or packs are bound upon the horses back, these bonds of iniquity keeps him fast in the gall of bitterness, Acts 8:23 so makes not only childhood but also
    3.Youth to be not only vanity, but likewise often abounds with villany, Ecc 11:9,10 with 12:1 where the preacher presses upon the youth to indulge themselves in their youthful lusts, if they dare do so, adding a stinging [But] which marrs the yonkers mirth, God will judge thee for all thy tricks of youth; account them not trifles, which both Job and David bitterly bewailed, [Job 13:26 and Ps. 25:7] Therefore he exhorts such to remember their creator at that time, as Psalm 119:9 before old age come, which is an evil age for both sin and misery.


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