Usher: The Covenant Of Works Is The Sum Of The Law

How hath the Moral Law been delivered since the Fall?

The Sum thereof was comprised in ten Words, (Exod. 34:28; Deut. 4:13.) commonly called the Decalogue or Ten Commandments; solemnly published and engraved in Table of Stone by God himself, (Deut. 4:14 & 10:4.) Afterwards the same was more fully delivered in the Books of Holy Scripture, and so committed to the Church for all Ages, as the Royal Law for Direction of our Obedience to God our King, (James 1:8.) and for the Discovery of Sin, and the Punishment due thereto, Deut. 27:26; Rom. 1:31 & 3:20.

What then doth the Law now require of us?

All such Duties as were required of Adam in his Innocency, (Levit. 18:5.) and all such as are required since by reason of his Fall, (Deut. 17:2–6.) binding us to eternal Death for our least defect therein.

Declare now out of that which hath been said, what the Covenant of Works is?

It is a Conditional Covenant between God and Man, whereby on the one side God commandeth the Perfection of Godliness and Righteousness, and promiseth that he will be our God, if we keep all his Commandments; and on the other side, Man bindeth himself to perform intire and perfect Obedience to God’s Law, by that Strength wherewith God hath indued him by the Nature of his first Creation.

What was done in this Covenant on God’s part?

There was his Law, backed with Promises and Threatnings; and unto them were added outward Seals.

What was the Sum of this Law?

Do this, and thou shalt live: If thou dost it not, thou shalt die the Death.

What is meant by, Do this?

Keep all my Commandments in Thought, Word, and Deed.

What is meant by Life, promised to those that should keep all the Commandments?

The Reward of Blessedness and Everlasting Life, Levit. 18:5; Luk. 10:28.

What is meant by Death threatned to those that should transgress?

In this World the Curse of God, and Death, with manifold Miseries both of Body and Soul: And (where this Curse is not taken away) Everlasting Death both of Body and Soul in the World to come, Deut. 27:26 & 29:19, 20 & 32:22; Levit. 26; Deut. 28.

What were the outward Seals added hereunto?

The two Trees, planted by God for that purpose in the midst of the Garden, Gen. 2:9 & 3:3. that Adam before and in the sight of them might resort to some special place to serve God in, and might by the Sight of them be put in mind of those things whereof they were Signs and Seals.

—James Usher, A Body of Divinity: Or, the Sum and Substance of Christian Religion, Eighth Edition. (London: R. J.; Jonathan Robinson; A. and J. Churchill; J. Taylor; J. Wyatt, 1702), 170–71.

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