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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

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

Thomas Vincent

XIX. Ques. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?

All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries in this life, to death itself; and to the pains of hell for ever.

Q. 1. Wherein doth man's misery by the fall consist?
A. Man's misery by the fall doth consist in three things. 1. In what man hath lost. 2. In what man is brought under. 3. In what man is liable unto.

Q. 2. What hath man lost by the fall?
A. Man by the fall hath lost communion with God.

Q. 3. Wherein did the communion with God consist which man by the fall hath lost?
A. The communion with God which man by the fall bath lost consisted in the gracious presence and favour, together with the sweet fellowship and enjoyment, of God in the garden of Eden. This, man by the fall was deprived of; and all his posterity, whilst in their fallen estate, are without. "And Adam and his wife hid them selves from the presence of the Lord. And the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden; and so drove out the man." —Gen. 3:8, 23, 24. "At that time we were without Christ, having no hope, and without God in the world."—Eph. 2:12.

Q. 4. Is the loss of communion with God a great misery and loss?
A. Yes; because God is our chief good, and in communion with him doth consist man's chiefest happiness; therefore the loss of communion with God is man's greatest loss.

Q. 5. What is man brought under by the fall?
A. By the fall, man is brought under God's wrath and curse. "And were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."—Eph. 2:3. "As many as are of the works of the law', (that is, all who are under the covenant of works, as all unbelievers are), "are under the curse."—Gal. 3:10.

Q. 6. Is it a great misery to be under God's wrath and curse?
A. Yes; because as his favour is better than life, so his wrath and displeasure is worse than death. His blessing maketh man blessed and happy; his curse maketh man wretched and miserable.

Q. 7. What is that punishment which man is liable unto by the fall?
A. Man is liable, by the fall— 1. Unto all miseries in this life. 2. To death itself 3. To the pains of hell for ever.

Q. 8. What are the miseries in this life which man is liable unto by the fall. A. The miseries in this life which man is liable unto by the fall, are either external, or internal and spiritual.

Q. 9. What are the external miseries of this life which the fall hat h brought upon mankind?
A. All the external miseries which either are or have been in the world, are the effects of the fall; and sin doth expose men to all sorts of miseries. 1. To more public and general calamities; such as pestilence, famine, sword, captivity, and the like. "I will send upon you famine and pestilence, and bring the sword upon thee."— Ezek. 5:17. 2. Sin doth expose men unto more private and particular miseries, such as—(l.) All sorts of sickness in their bodies. "The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning," &c.— Deut. 23:22. (2.) Losses of their estates. "Thou shalt build an house, but thou shalt not dwell therein; thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof."—Deut. 28:30. (3.) Reproach and disgrace on their names. "Thou shalt become a proverb and a by-word."—Verse 27. (4.) Losses of relations, and every other external affliction and misery men are liable unto in this life for their sins.

Q. 10. What are the internal and spiritual miseries which men are liable unto in this life by the fall?
A. Men by the fall are liable— 1. To the thraldom of the devil, to be led about by him at his will. "And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."— 2 Tim. 2:26. 2. To judiciary blindness of mind, and a reprobate sense. "God bath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear."— Rom. 11:8. Because they liked not to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind."— Rom. 1:8. 3. To judiciary hardness of heart, and searedness and benumbedness of conscience. "Whom he will he hardeneth."— Rom. 9:18. "Having their conscience seared as with a hot iron. "— 1 Tim. 4:2. "Who being past feeling, have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.—Eph. 4:19. 4. To vile actions. "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: and they burned in their lust one towards another, working that which is unseemly."— Rom. 1:26,27. 5. To strong delusions, and belief of damnable errors. "God shall send them strong delusions, to believe a lie; that they all might be damned that believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."— 2 Thess. 2:11, 12. 6. To distress and perplexity of mind, dread and horror of spirit, and despairful agonies, through the apprehension of certain future wrath. "There remaineth nothing but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversary."— Heb. 10:27.

Q. 11. What is the punishment which man by the fall is liable unto at the end of his life?
A. Man by the fall at the end of his life, is liable unto death itself. "Death passed upon all, for that all have sinned."— Rom. 5:12. "The wages of sin is death."— Rom. 6:23.

Q. 12. Is death a punishment unto all upon whom it is inflicted?
A. 1. Though death be the consequent of sin in all, yet to believers, through Christ, it is unstinged, and it is an outlet from misery, and an inlet to glory. 2. Death, to the wicked and unbelievers, is a dreadful punishment, being a king of terrors, and grim sergeant, that is sent by God to arrest the wicked, and convey them into future misery.

Q. 13. What is the punishment which man by the fall is liable unto in the other world?
A. The punishment which man by the fall is liable unto in the other world, is the punishment of hell for ever.

Q. 14. Wherein doth consist the punishment of hell?
A. The punishment of hell doth consist—1. In the punishment of loss. 2. In the punishment of sense.

Q. 15. What will be the punishment of loss in hell?
A. The punishment of loss in hell, will be a banishment from the comfortable presence of God, and an exclusion or shutting out from heaven; where the saints will have a fulness and eternity of joy and happiness. "Depart from me, ye cursed."— Matt. 25:41. "Ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out."— Luke 13:28. "In thy presence is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.—Ps. 16:11.

Q. 16. What will be the punishment of sense in hell?
A. The punishment of sense in hell, will be both on the soul and on the body. 1. The souls of the wicked in hell will be filled with horror and anguish through the strokes of God's immediate vengeance, and the bitings of the never-dying worm of conscience. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."—Heb. 10:31. "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched"—Mark 9:44. 2. The bodies of the wicked in hell will be most grievously tormented in every part and member, and that both in extremity and to eternity. "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."—Matt. 25:41. "The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all them that do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."—Matt. 13:41, 42

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