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Whitefield on Original Sin


Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

—Matthew 18:3


Though the doctrine of original sin is a doctrine written in such legible characters in the word of God that he who runs may read it; and though, I think, everything without us and everything within us, plainly proclaims that we are fallen creatures; though the very heathens, who had no other light but the dim light of unassisted reason, complained of this, for they felt the wound and discovered the disease but were ignorant of the cause of it; yet there are too many persons of those who have been baptized in the name of Christ, that dare to speak against the doctrine of original sin and are angry with those ill-natured ministers who paint man in such black colours.

Say they, ‘It cannot be that children come into the world with the guild of Adam’s sin lying upon them.’ Why? Desire them to prove it from Scripture and they will urge this very text, our Lord tells us, ‘Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ Now their argument runs thus, ‘It is implied in the words of the text, that little children are innocent and that they come into the world like a mere blank piece of white paper, otherwise our Lord must argue absurdly, for he could never pretend to say, that we must be converted and be made like wicked creatures; that would be no conversion.’

But, my dear friends, this is to make Jesus Christ speak what he never intended and what cannot be deduced from his words. That little children are guilty, I mean, that they are conceived and born in sin, is plain from the whole tenor of the book of God. David was a man after God’s own heart, yet, says he, ‘I was conceived in sin.’ Jeremiah speaking of every one’s heart, says, ‘the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked above all things.’ God’s servants unanimously declare (and Paul cites it from one of them) ‘that we are altogether now become abominable, altogether gone out of the way of original righteousness, there is not one of us that doeth good (by nature), no not one.’ And I appeal to any of you that are mothers and fathers, if ye do not discern original sin or corruption in your children, as soon as they come into the world. And as they grow up, if ye do not discover self-will and an aversion to goodness. What is the reason your children are so averse to instruction but because they bring enmity into the world with them, against a good and gracious God?

So then, it is plain from scripture and fact that children are born in sin and consequently that they are children of wrath. . . . If any charge God with injustice for imputing Adam’s sin to a little child, behold we have gotten a second Adam, to bring our children to him.

Therefore, when our Lord says, ‘unless ye are converted and become as little children,’ we are not to understand, as though our Lord would insinuate, that little children are perfectly innocent. . . . Little children are innocent, compare them with grown people. But take them as they are and as they come into the world, they have hearts that are sensual and minds which are carnal.

—George Whitefield, “Marks of a True Conversion” in Lee Gatiss (Ed.), The Sermons of George Whitefield (Crossway, 2012), 1:388–389.

Posted 2019·01·14 by David Kjos
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Posted in: George Whitefield · The Sermons of George Whitefield

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