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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel


Of Original Sin.

Q. 17. What Estate did the Fall bring Mankind?
A. The Fall brought Mankind into an Estate of Sin and Misery


Q. 18. Wherein consistes the sinfulness of that Estate whereinto mankind fell?
A. The sinfulness of that Estate whereinto Man fell consists in the guilt of Adam's first Sin, the want of Original Righteousness, and Corruption of his whole Nature, which is commonly called Original Sin: together with all actual Transgressions which proceed from it.


Q. 1. How many sorts of sins are all men under?
A. All men are guilty before God of two sorts of Sin: of Original, and actual. Psalm 51:5. Behold I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me. Ecclesiastes 7:20. For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not.

Q. 2. How can we be guilty of Adam's first sin?
A. We are guilty of it because Adam sinned not only as a single, but also as a public person, adn representative of all Mankind. Romans 5:15-17. But not as the offence; so also is the free gift; for if through the offence of one, many be dead: much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many, and not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgement was by one to condemnation.

Q. 3. How else came we under his guilt?
A. We are guilty of his Sin by Generation, for we were in his loins; as Treason stains the blood of Posterity, or the Parents Leprosy the Children. Psalm 51:5. Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Q. 4. Wherein doth it consist?
A. It consists in two things: First, in our aversation and enmity to that which is good. Romans 7:18. In me, that is, in my flesh, there dwelleth no good thing. Secondly, In proneness to that which is evil. Romans 7:14. But I am carnal, sold under sin.

Q. 5. Is this corruption of nature in all men?
A. Yes, In all mere Men, and Women, none exempted. Romans 3:10 and 23. As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one, for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

Q. 6. In what part of our nature doth this sin abide?
A. It abides in the whole man, in every part of man, both Soul and Body. Genesis 6:5. God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Now the God of peace sanctify you wholly, and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Q. 7. How is the body infected by it?
A. In the readiness of the Bodily Members to further Sin, and its Temptations in the soul. Romans 3:13-15. Their throat is an open sepulchre, and with their tongues they have used deceit, the poison of asps is under their lips, whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, their feet are swift to shed blood.

Q. 8. What learn we from Original sin?
A. To bear patiently the Miseries we see on our children, and their death also without murmuring. 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 second Instruction?
A. It teaches us Humility, and should be matter of Confession and Humiliation, when we sin actually. Psalm 51:5. Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Q. 10. What is the third Instruction?
A. It should provoke Parents to use their utmost diligence for the Conversion of their children who draw sin from them.

Q. 11. What is the last Instruction?
A. It teaches us the necessity of Regeneration, and should provoke us greatly to desire it.

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