The Covenant of Works

Part III: Anthropology (Man) and Covenant Theology
Chapter 14 - Covenant of works

We turn to describing Adam's relationship with God before the fall.  Most Puritans called it a covenant of works.  Though the Bible never calls it a covenant, the essential elements of a covenant are there.  You have an agreement with promises for keeping it or punishments for not keeping it.

Adam had the Law
The moral law was written on Adams heart.  Most Puritans saw Adam as created in a covenant, signified by the two trees in the garden.  The punishment is not just a test, but is intended to bring Gospel out of law.  This is Samuel Rutherford's idea.

What else Adam had
What was God obliged to provide Adam as His creature in covenant?  Goodwin says,
Ability to be faithful, but not a guarantee of perseverance.
The Holy Spirit, though not in an unforfeit-able way like Christians today have Him.
Faith - different from faith today in that ours is supernatural and Christ focused, but Adam had faith, too.
Reward - most Puritans thought the reward promised was eternal life in heaven, but there are some good reasons Goodwin gives to doubt this.  As he was, Adam was not incorruptible, so how could he attain incorruptible life in heaven, without Christ?

Grace and Merit
Most Puritans viewed grace more broadly than just redemptive favor that deals with our demerited condition.  So they saw the covenant of works as a gracious covenant.  God initiated it graciously, promised a reward that surpassed strict justice for obedience.

The Fall
Adam did not have grace granted to him from God to persevere in obedience.  Somehow, God decreed this Fall without being the author of sin.  Adam is responsible.  The Fall made Adam guilty before God, and defaces and shatters His image in us.  This guilt and corruption is imputed to us through Adam, as Romans 5 says.

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