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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism
of the Westminster Assembly
Explained and Proved
from Scripture

by
Thomas Vincent


XIII. Ques. Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
Ans.
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. What is meant by the freedom of the will?
A. By the freedom of the will is meant, a liberty in the will of its own accord to choose or refuse; to do or not to do; to do this, or to do that, without any constraint or force from any one.

Q. 2. How many ways may the will be said to be free?
A. The will may be said to be free three ways. 1. When the will is free only to good; when the will is not compelled or forced, but freely chooseth only such things as are good. Thus, the will of God (to speak after the manner of men) is free only to good; he can neither do nor will any thing that is evil. Such also is the freedom of the wills of angels, and such will be the freedom of all the glorified saints in heaven; there neither is, nor will be, any inclination of the will unto any evil thing for eve; and yet good will be of free choice. 2. He will may be said to be free only unto evil, when the will is not constrained, but freely chooseth such things as are evil and sinful. Thus, the will of the devil is free only unto Sin; and thus the wills of all the children of men in the world, whilst in a state of nature, are free only unto sin. 3. The will may be said to be free both unto good and evil, when it sometimes chooseth that which is good, sometimes chooseth that which is evil. Such is the freedom of the wills of all regenerate persons, who have in some measure recovered the image of God; they choose good freely, through a principle of grace wrought in them by the Spirit; yet, through the remainder of corruption, at some times their wills are inclined to that which is sinful.

Q. 3. What freedom of will had man at his first creation?
A. The freedom of will which man had at his first creation, was a freedom both to good and evil. Though the natural inclination and disposition of his will was only to good, yet, being mutable or changeable, through temptation it might be altered, and might become inclinable into evil.

Q. 4. How were Our first parents left to the freedom of their own wills?
A. Our first parents were left by God to the freedom of their own wills, when God withheld that further grace (which he was nowise bound to give unto them) which would have strengthened them against the temptation, and preserved them from falling into sin.

Q. 5. How did our first parents fall, when they were left to the freedom of their own wills?
A. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own wills, through the temptation of the devil, who spake unto them in the serpent; through the desirableness of the fruit of the forbidden tree to their sensual appetite; and through the desirableness of being made wise, and like unto God, by eating thereof' under their rational appetite; and through the hopes of escaping the punishment of death threatened by God; they did venture, against the express command of God, to eat of this tree. The woman being first beguiled and perverted by the devil, did eat; and then the mall, being persuaded by his wife and the devil too, did eat also. "And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know, that in the day ye eat thereof then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 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." Gen. 3:4-6. "The serpent beguiled Eve, through his subtlety." 2 Cor. 11:3. "The woman being deceived, was in the transgression." 1 Tim. 2:14.

Q. 6. What was the state in which our first parents were created, from whence they fell?
A. The state wherein our first parents were created, and from whence they fell, was a state of innocency. "Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions." Eccles. 7:29.

Q. 7. Whereby did our first parents fall from the state wherein they were created?
A. Our first parents fell from the state wherein they were created, by sinning against God.

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