The covenant of works and the law of nature

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Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Does the denial of the concept of natural law logically lead to a rejection of the notion of a covenant of works?

If Adam and Eve were bound to obey the moral law (and the moral-positive command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), yet the moral law was not inscripturated at that time, then surely they must have been bound to obey the moral law as it was revealed in nature. If, however, you deny that there is such a concept as natural law then surely it must be impossible to retain the idea that there was a prelapsarian covenant of works which required Adam to obey the moral law? Because, on the one hand, if natural law does not exist, then Adam could not have been bound to obey a law that was not revealed at that point in time. If, on the other hand, natural does exist then it makes perfect sense to think of Adam being bound to obey a law which had been revealed to him by natural revelation. :think:

Does this make any sense?
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
If Adam and Eve were bound to obey the moral law (and the moral-positive command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), yet the moral law was not inscripturated at that time, then surely they must have been bound to obey the moral law as it was revealed in nature.
Doesn't the moral-positive command reveal (at least in seed form) the coming 10 Commandments? It seems to me that it does so in a similar way that Gen 3:15 is the revelation of the Gospel (in seed form).

By breaking the moral-positive command, Adam broke at least the first, fifth, sixth, eighth, and tenth.

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Who denies natural law anyway? FV?
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I'm not sure the connection works because the covenant of works is not contained in natural law itself (else we'd be antinomians) but is superadded. This superaddition of the covenant of works is exemplified in the threat of death upon the breach of the moral-positive command. Are you suggesting that the threat of death for breaking the whole moral law was revealed to Adam in nature? That seems to me to lead in a potentially antinomian direction because it would make the covenant of works natural and inseparable from the moral law itself, which we strongly deny. It might be I am just not fully following the argument.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
if natural law does not exist, then Adam could not have been bound to obey a law that was not revealed at that point in time.
If natural law does not exist Adam could not have been bound to obey any law, not even the positive command of Gen. 2:16-17. Natural law is the law which necessarily exists because man is a creature and is bound to serve his Creator. If "no other God" was not a natural and necessary law of his being it would have left Adam free to disregard the words of Jehovah Elohim and to freely follow his own whims. In fact, the serpent could not have tempted him with anything because he would already have been his own god. Natural law is an inescapable fact. There could be no morality without it.
 
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VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Does the denial of the concept of natural law logically lead to a rejection of the notion of a covenant of works?
There is a terminology issue that I sometimes find confuses the topic. For example, Blackstone in his Commentary on the Laws of England, distinguishes “Natural Law” from the “Laws of Nature.” “Natural Law” was what man, using his defective faculties, is able to discern from observation. “Laws of Nature” are those objectively true laws decreed by God, and which we can only discern for sure by revelation from God.

Having said that, I tend to follow the old formulation that Laws of Nature are the total set of Laws decreed by God for his creation and includes what we call the Covenant of Works. That means the Laws of Nature include things like the fact that objects in nature follow consistent behavior (such as facts like apples fall to the ground, trees grow up from the ground, objects pushed tend to move, etc.—in other words, all the empirically-acknowledged and so-called scientific laws), and also include what we call the Moral law. So the Moral law would be a subset of the Law of Nature.

In other words, God has decreed that his Creation will behave in a certain manner. Rocks obey him, plants obey him, animals obey him. Planets and stars obey him. Obeying God can properly be described as a covenant of works. Accordingly, Man also is required to obey him.

Of course, we know that of all creation, only man and some angels dared to disobey the Law of Nature. But they were fully aware of their duty. That is what makes it so remarkable and disastrous. And, I suppose, it is why all creation groans.

So, yes, denying what I call the Law of Nature (and what others call natural law) would be denying the covenant of works.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
the covenant of works is not contained in natural law itself (else we'd be antinomians) but is superadded
The basic point raised in the OP is that the notion of a covenant of works presupposes the existence of the law of nature/moral law prior to its inscripturation in the Bible (especially for the reasons that the Revd Winzer has given above). I assume you would agree.
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The basic point raised in the OP is that the notion of a covenant of works presupposes the existence of the law of nature/moral law prior to its inscripturation in the Bible (especially for the reasons that the Revd Winzer has given above). I assume you would agree.
Yes, I see what you are saying now.
 
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