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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel


Of the Tree of Knowledge.

Q. 15. What is the sin whereby our first Parents fell from the Estate wherein they were created?
A. The sin whereby our first parents fell from the Estate wherein they were created was their eating the forbidden fruit.


Q. 1. Why was this Tree called the Tree of Knowledge?
A. Not from any natural efficacy it had to give knowledge; but the Knowledge he should have by eating, or not eating, was experimental Knowledge, i.e. Knowledge to his Sorrow.

Q. 2. Why did God forbid him this Tree?
A. First, for the discovery of his dominion over man. Secondly, For the trial of his subjection and obedience. Thirdly, For the aggravation of his sin, if he should eat.

Q. 3. What evil was there in eating of it?
A. There was a twofold Evil, the evil of Sin, and the evil of Punishment, both very great.

Q. 4. What was the evil of Sin?
A. A threefold Evil of Sin. First, Against God, called disobedience. Romans 5:19. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners. Secondly, Against himself, Soul, Body, and Estate. Thirdly, Against his Posterity, 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.

Q. 5. What was the Evil of Punishment?
A. First, Loss of God's Image. Secondly, Horror of Conscience. Thirdly, Sorrow on the Female Sex. Fourthly, Curse on the Creature. Fifthly, Expulsion from Paradise. Sixthly, Death both of Body and Soul.

Q. 6. What is the first Instruction from it?
A. To take heed of small beginnings of Temptations, and resist it in the first motions. James 3:5. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth.

Q. 7. What is the second Inference?
A. Not to hold a parly with the tempter. See 2 Corinthians 11:3. But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve, through his subtilty; so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Q. 8. What is the third Inference?
A. That Satan's Policy lies much in the choice of his tempting Instruments; as Eve and Peter, etc.

Q. 9. What is the fourth Inference?
A. A necessity of keeping strong guards on our fences. Isaiah 33:15. That stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil, he shall dwell on high, his place of defence shall be the munition of rocks.

Q. 10. What is the fifth Inference?
A. That Covenant-breaking is a heinous sin, which God will punish. Hosea 8;1. He shall come as an Eagle against the house of the Lord, because they have transgressed my Covenant, and trespassed against my laws.

Q. 11. What is the last Inference?
A. That the Corruption of our nature is much seen in desiring forbidden things. Romans 7:7. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid: Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law; for I had not known lust, except the law had said, thou shalt not covet.

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