In his small little treatise, Instruction in Christian Love, Martin Bucer writes of the original goodness of creation. He mentions that God made all things good, implanting love in man’s very nature. Husband and wife gave themselves to one another, and children would have naturally obeyed their parents. There was no need for an external law for this state, since it was simply ordered by natural love. Bucer states:
If sin had not poisoned nature, such implanted love of one toward the other would never have shown any deficiency in either spiritual or bodily matters. Unhindered by sin, men would have lived without law yet according to the law of God, in friendly service of one toward the other.
~pg. 26 (John Knox Press, 1952)
This also indicates that Bucer was not operating within the covenant of works model. A life under an external law was not man’s natural state. This external law was added, as Paul states in Gal. 3:19, because of sin.
Man’s natural state was thus one of love and friendly service, as he simply lived out his nature. “Failing to keep the law” is simply another way of saying, “failing to be human.”
This is also important because Bucer is stressing that man’s natural goodness ought to be so that he lives for others. A sinless man is one who serves others.
I can’t help but feel that the meritorious covenant of works model implies that the natural man would have lived for himself.