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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel


Of the Fall of Man.

Q. 13. Did our first Parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
A. Our first Parents being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.


Q. 1. How doth it appear that man is fallen?
A. By the Scripture History, an account of it in Genesis 3:6-7. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves Aprons, and they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden, in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God, amongst the trees of the garden. And the sad experiences we all have of it in our own selves. Romans 5:12. Therefore 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.

Q. 2. How could man fail, since he was made upright?
A. Thought he was upright yet his will was mutable; and by abusing that liberty, he fell. Ecclesiastes 7:29. Lo this only have I found that God made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions.

Q. 3. How did God leave him to abuse the freedom of Will?
A. Not by inclining him to abuse it; but by withholding that further grace which he was no way obliged to continue to him.

Q. 4. Did the will of man lost its liberty to good, by the Fall?
A. Yes, it did, and is so wounded, that it cannot without preventing and regenerating grace put forth one spiritual and saving act. Ephesians 2:8-9. For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast; for we are all his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, etc.

Q. 5. What was the aggravation of Adam's sin?
A. It was aggravated in his being a public Innocent Person, so newly placed in a State of Happiness and Liberty.

Q. 6. What is the first Inference from the Fall?
A. That the best Creature left to himself, cannot be long safe; as the Angels, and Adam. Psalm 49:12. Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not, he is like the beasts that perish.

Q. 7. What is the Second Inference?
A. That since man could not be his own keeper, he can be much less his own Saviour. 2 Corinthians 3:5. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of our selves; but our sufficiency is of God.

Q. 8. What is the third Inference?
A. That it is impossible for the Covenant of works to justify any one. Romans 3:20. Therefore by the deeds of the awl there shall no flesh be justified in his sight. Romans 8:3. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh; God sending his own son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh.

Q. 9. What is the last Inference?
A. What cause have we to bless God for Christ, who recovered us when the Fall left us helpless? Romans 5:6. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

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