Does the Second London Affirm the Covenant of Works? (Introduction)

The following is adapted from a paper written for a class on the origins of Reformed Baptist covenant theology.


The covenant of works has served as a foundational doctrine for Reformed covenant theology. It explains Adam’s relationship to God prior to the fall. Unfortunately, the 2nd London Baptist Confession (2LBCF) can be easily misunderstood since it does not explicitly mention a covenant of works in the seventh chapter, titled, ‘Of God’s Covenant.’

This has led some to believe that Reformed Baptist theology intentionally omits the concept altogether, or at least allows room for denying a covenant of works. However, it is incorrect to assume that just because the Confession does not explicitly speak on the covenant of works in the seventh chapter it therefore does not speak on the covenant of works at all. In fact, four reasons, which will be proven below, should compel one to think the very opposite.

First, the Confession implies the covenant of works in both the sixth and seventh chapters without explicitly making mention of it. To deny a covenant of works simply because the words “covenant of works” aren’t present is to commit a word/concept fallacy.

Second, the framers drafted the 2LBCF precisely to demonstrate unity with their paedobaptist brethren. The Reformed paedobaptists viewed the covenant of works as being foundational to their covenant theology. For them, it would have been unthinkable to deny it. Since this is the case, it is unlikely the Particular Baptists would have omitted the covenant of works.

Third, Nehemiah Coxe, one of the editors of the Confession, explicitly affirmed the covenant of works in his own writings. Fourth, the 2LBCF in fact does explicitly mention the covenant of works, just not in the seventh chapter.

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