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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel

Of the Covenant of Grace.

Q. 1. What is the covenant of grace?
A. It is a new compact, or agreement, made with sinners, out of mere grace, wherein God promiseth to be our God, and that we shall be his people, and to give everlasting life to all that believe in Christ; Jeremiah 31:33, But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord, I will, put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Q. 2. How doth this covenant differ from the covenant of works?
A. They differ many ways; but principally in three things. First, The covenant of works had no Mediator; the covenant of grace hath a Mediator; Hebrews 12:24. And to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant. Secondly, In the former no place was found for repentance; in the second, God admits it; Hebrews 8:10. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws in their minds, and write them in their hearts, and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people; ver. 12. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins will I remember no more. Thirdly, in their condition, the former requires exact obedience; the latter faith and sincere obedience; Mark 16:16. He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved.

Q. 3. May a sinner that hath no worthiness at all of his own, be taken into the covenant of grace?
A. Yes, he may; Isaiah 43:25. I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. This covenant is not of works, but of grace, Romans 11:6. And if by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace, otherwise work is no more work.

Q. 4. Is this covenant changeable, or an unchangeable covenant?
A. No, it is not changeable, but everlasting and unchangeable for ever; Isaiah 54:10. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee.

Q. 5. What are the principal things bestowed in this covenant?
A. God himself, and in and with him pardon. and salvation; Jeremiah 31:33. I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Q. 6. Can no sin be forgiven out of this covenant?
A. No, God pardons none out of this covenant; John 3:18. But he that believeth not is condemned already.

Q. 7. What is the first instruction hence?
A. Humbled and believing sinners have singular supports from this new covenant, 1 John 2:12. I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.

Q. 8. What is the second instruction from hence?
A. That it is the great concern of all men to examine whether they be in this covenant or no; 2 Corinthians 13:5. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your ownselves; know ye not your ownselves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Q. 9. What is the third instruction?
A. See here the miserable state of the wicked, which have no interest in it: Psalm 50:16. But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldst take my covenant in thy mouth?

Q. 10. What is the last instruction?
A. That Christians are obliged to walk as people in covenant with God; 1 Peter 2:9. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

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