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Human Nature in its Fourfold State

Human Nature in its Fourfold State
Human Nature in its Fourfold State

In his famous book, Human Nature in Its Fourfold State, the Scottish Puritan, Thomas Boston (1676–1732) teaches us that the four states of human nature are: (a) Primitive Integrity; (b) Entire Depravity; (c) Begun Recovery; and (d) Consummate Happiness or Misery.

These four states, which are derived from the Scripture, correlate to the four states of man in relation to sin, brought to light by by Augustine of Hippo: (a) able to sin, able not to sin (posse peccare, posse non peccare); (b) not able not to sin (non posse non peccare); (c) able not to sin (posse non peccare); and (d) unable to sin (non posse peccare). The first state corresponds to the state of man in innocency, before the Fall; the second the state of the natural man after the Fall; the third the state of the regenerate man; and the fourth the glorified man.

It must be noted that in all four states, man is free to choose what to do or not to do according to his will. His will is free because it is not forced or compelled from without. However, his will is determined by his own moral inclinations. This means that while the glorified man will always choose to do good because his heart’s inclination is always to glorify God; the natural fallen man will always do what is evil (in God’s eyes), because his motives are never pure, and never to glorify God.

Before the Fall, man was able to choose to do either good or evil, his heart, and so his inclination and disposition, being innocent and not tainted by sin. But Adam’s state was mutable and when Satan tempted Eve, and then through Eve, tempted him, he chose to sin against God by eating the forbidden fruit and so fell from the estate of innocency.

“When the people of God reach heaven, they will see Jesus Christ, God and man, with their bodily eyes, as He will never lay aside the human nature. They will behold that glorious blessed body, which is personally united to the divine nature, and exalted above principalities and powers and every name that is named. There we shall see, with our eyes, that very body which was born of Mary at Bethlehem, and crucified at Jerusalem between two thieves: the blessed head that was crowned with thorns; the face that was spit upon; the hands and feet that were nailed to the cross; all shining with inconceivable glory.” ~Thomas Boston



Thomas Boston (1676–1732) was a Scottish church leader. He was educated at Edinburgh, and licensed in 1697 by the presbytery of Chirnside. In 1699 he became minister of the small parish of Simprin, where there were only 90 examinable persons. His autobiography is a record of Scottish life, with humorous touches, intentional and otherwise. His books, The Fourfold State, The Crook in the Lot, and his Body of Divinity and Miscellanies, had a powerful influence over the Scottish peasantry.


·   Author ‏ : ‎ Thomas Boston

·         Publisher ‏ : ‎ CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

·         ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1508480575

·         ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1508480570


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