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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel


Of the Covenant of Works

Q. 12. What special act of Providence did God exercise towards Man, in the estate wherein he was created?
A. When God had created Man, he entered into a Covenant of Life with him upon condition of perfect obedience, forbidding him to eat of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil upon pain of Death.


Q. 1. What was God's Covenant with Adam before the Fall?
A. It was to give Life and Happiness upon condition of perfect Personal Obedience. Galatians 3:12. The law is not of Faith; but the man that doeth them, shall live in them.

Q. 2. Was this Covenant made only with Adam, or with him and his Posterity?
A. It was made with him, and all his natural Posterity, descending in the ordinary way of Generation from him. Romans 5:12. Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. v. 14 and 18. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come: Therefore as by the offence of one, judgement came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

Q. 3. Was Adam able to perform the obedience required of him in that Covenant?
A. Yes; for he was made upright. Ecclesiastes 7:29. God made man upright, but they have sought out themselves many inventions.

Q. 4. Had this Covenant any Mediator?
A. No, he neither had, nor needed any Mediator for satisfaction; because no sin was in him; not intercession, for he wanted nothing.

Q. 5. Did this Covenant admit of no repentance, nor accept any short Endeavours?
A. No, it did not; but sentenceth and curseth the Transgressors of it, for the least breach. Galatians 3:10. Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

Q. 6. How was the threatening fulfilled, of dying in the day he eat, for he lived 930 years?
A. He died spiritually, that day; and though the sentence on his body was respited in order to Posterity, yet then his body received the death wound, of which afterward he died.

Q. 7. What is the first Inference from Adam's Covenant?
A. Miserable are all they that grow on the natural root of the first Adam. Galatians 4:21-22. Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law. Do ye not hear the law? for it is written, That Abraham had two sons, the one by a Bondsmaid, the other by a Free-woman.

Q. 8. What is the second Inference?
A. That God is just in all the Punishments and Miseries that come upon Man, yea, Infants, that never sinned after his similitude. Romans 5:14. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam, to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression.

Q. 9. What is the third Inference?
A. The glorious Privilege of Believers, who are under a better Covenant, established upon better Promises. Hebrews 8:6. But now that he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the Mediator of a better Covenant, which is established upon better Promises.

Q. 10. What is the last Inference?
A. That we should pity the unregenerate, especially our own among them; and labour to plant them in the second Adam.

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