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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

A Scripture Catechism
in the
Method of the Assembly's

by Matthew Henry

Q. 18. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that state whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that state whereinto man fell consist in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, (which is commonly called original sin,) together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.

1. Are we all born under guilt? Yes: for all the world is guilty before God, Rom. 3:19. Does the whole race of mankind stand attainted at God's bar? Yes: for the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, Gal. 3:22. Is this according to God's rule of judgment? Yes: for he visiteth the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, Exod. 20:5. Is not God unrighteous who thus takes vengeance? No: God forbid, for then how shall God judge the world, Rom. 3:6.

2. Are we all born in sin? Yes: Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me, Ps. 51:5. Are we of a sinful brood? Yes: for we are a seed of evil-doers, Isa. 1:4. May we be truly called sinners by nature? Yes: Thou wast called a transgressor from the womb, Isa. 48:8.

3.Is there in every one of us by nature the want of original righteousness? Yes: there is none righteous, no, not one, Rom. 3:10. Is there in us an aversion to that which is good? Yes: for the carnal mind is enmity against God, Rom. 8:7. Is there in us a moral impotency to that which is good? Yes: for the carnal mind is not in subjection to the law of God, neither indeed can be, Rom. 8:7. Can we of ourselves do any thing that is good? No: for we are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing of ourselves, 2 Cor. 3:5.

4. Is there in us a proneness to that which is evil? Yes: my people are bent to backsliding from me, Hos. 11:7. Are there the snares of sin in our bodies? Yes: for there is a law in the members warring against the law of the mind, Rom. 7:23. And are there the seeds of sin in our souls? Yes: For when I would do good, evil is present with me, Rom. 7:21. And is the stain of sin upon both? Yes: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, Rom. 3:23.

5. Did we all bring sin into the world with us? Yes: for man is born like the wild ass's colt, Job 11:12. Is it in little children? Yes: for foolishness is in the heart of a child, Prov. 22:15. As reason improves, does sin grow up with it? Yes: for when the blade is sprung up, then appear the tares also, Matt. 13:26. Is it not a wonder of mercy then that we are any of us alive? Yes: it is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, Lam. 3:22.

6. Is the whole nature of man corrupted by the fall? Yes: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint, Isa. 1:5. Is the understanding corrupted? Yes: the understanding is darkened, being alienated from the life of God, Eph. 4:18. Is that unapt to admit the rays of divine light? Yes: for they are spiritually discerned, 1 Cor. 2:14. Is the will corrupted? Yes: the neck is an iron sinew, Isa. 48:4. And is that unapt to submit to the rule of the divine law? Yes: For what is the Almighty (say they) that we should serve him? Job 21:15. Are the thoughts corrupted? Yes: for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth, Gen. 8:21. Is the fancy full of vanity? Yes: vain thoughts lodge within us, Jer. 4:15. Are the affections corrupted? Yes: It is a carnal mind, Rom. 8:7. Is conscience itself corrupted? Yes: even the mind and conscience is defiled, Tit. 1:15. Is the whole soul corrupted? Yes : the heart is deceitful above all things, Jer. 17: 9.

7. Is this corruption of the mind sin? Yes: for it is enmity against God, Rom. 8:7. Have we it from our original? Yes: for that which is born of the flesh is flesh, John 3:6. Do we derive it through our parents? Yes: for who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Job 14:4. Does it render us odious to God's holiness? Yes: for the foolish shall not stand in his sight, Ps. 5:5. Does it render us obnoxious to his justice? Yes: for death reigns over them that have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, Rom. 5:14.

8. Does this original corruption produce actual transgression? Yes: for a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit, Matt. 7:18. Does it produce it betimes? Yes: for the wicked are estranged from the womb, they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies, Ps. 58:3. Does it produce it naturally? Yes: as a fountain casteth out her waters, Jer. 6:7. Does all sin begin in the heart? Yes: for when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, James 1:15. Is it not necessary therefore we should have a new nature? Yes: Marvel not that I said unto you, Ye must be born again, John 3:7. Can we get to heaven without it? No: for flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, 1 Cor. 15:50.

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