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Westminster Larger Catechism

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The Law

Question 91: What is the duty which God requires of man?

Answer:  The duty which God requires of man, is obedience to his revealed will.

Rom. 12:1-2; Micah 6:8; 1Sam. 15:22

Question 92: What did God at first reveal unto man as the rule of his obedience?

Answer:  The rule of obedience revealed to Adam in the estate of innocence, and to all mankind in him, besides a special command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, was the moral law.

Gen. 1:26-27; 2:17; Rom. 2:14-15; 10:5

Question 93: What is the moral law?

Answer:  The moral law is the declaration of the will of God to mankind, directing and binding everyone to personal, perfect, and perpetual conformity and obedience thereunto, in the frame and disposition of the whole man, soul and body1, and in performance of all those duties of holiness and righteousness which he owes to God and man2: promising life upon the fulfilling, and threatening death upon the breach of it3.

1.  Deut. 5:1-3, 31, 33; Luke 10:26-27; Gal. 3:10; 1Thess. 5:23
2.  Luke 1:75; Acts 14:16
3.  Rom. 10:5; Gal. 3:10, 12

Question 94: Is there any use of the moral law to man since the fall?

Answer:  Although no man, since the fall, can attain to righteousness and life by the moral law1; yet there is great use thereof, as well common to all men, as peculiar either to the unregenerate, or the regenerate2.

1.  Rom. 8:3; Gal. 2:16
2.  1Tim. 1:8

Question 95: Of what use is the moral law to all men?

Answer:  The moral law is of use to all men, to inform them of the holy nature and will of God1, and of their duty, binding them to walk accordingly2; to convince them of their disability to keep it, and of the sinful pollution of their nature, hearts, and lives3; to humble them in the sense of their sin and misery4, and thereby help them to a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ5, and of the perfection of his obedience6.

1.  Lev. 11:44-45; 20:7-8; Rom. 7:12
2.  Micah 6:8; James 2:10-11
3.  Ps. 19:11-12; Rom. 3:20; 7:7
4.  Rom. 3:9, 23
5.  Gal. 3:21-22
6.  Rom. 10:4

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Question 96: What particular use is there of the moral law to unregenerate men?

Answer:  The moral law is of use to unregenerate men, to awaken their consciences to flee from wrath to come1, and to drive them to Christ2; or, upon their continuance in the estate and way of sin, to leave them inexcusable3, and under the curse thereof4.

1.  1Tim. 1:9-10
2.  Gal. 3:24
3.  Rom. 1:20; 2:15
4.  Gal. 3:10

Question 97: What special use is there of the moral law to the regenerate?

Answer:  Although they that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works1, so as thereby they are neither justified2 nor condemned3; yet, besides the general uses thereof common to them with all men, it is of special use, to show them how much they are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead, and for their good4; and thereby to provoke them to more thankfulness5, and to express the same in their greater care to conform themselves thereunto as the rule of their obedience6.

1.  Rom. 6:14; 7:4, 6; Gal. 4:4-5
2.  Rom. 3:20
3.  Gal. 5:23; Rom. 8:1
4.  Rom. 7:24-25; 8:3-4; Gal. 3:13-14
5.  Luke 1:68-69, 74-75; Col. 1:12-14
6.  Rom. 7:22; 12:2; Titus 2:11-14

Question 98: Where is the moral law summarily comprehended?

Answer:  The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments, which were delivered by the voice of God upon Mount Sinai, and written by him in two tables of stone1; and are recorded in the twentieth chapter of Exodus. The four first commandments containing our duty to God, and the other six our duty to man2.

1.  Deut. 10:4; Exod. 34:1-4
2.  Matt. 22:37-38, 40

Question 99: What rules are to be observed for the right understanding of the ten commandments?

Answer:  For the right understanding of the ten commandments, these rules are to be observed:
a)  That the law is perfect, and binds everyone to full conformity in the whole man unto the righteousness thereof, and unto entire obedience forever; so as to require the utmost perfection of every duty, and to forbid the least degree of every sin1.
b)  That it is spiritual, and so reaches the understanding, will, affections, and all other powers of the soul; as well as words, works, and gestures2.
c)  That one and the same thing, in divers respects, is required or forbidden in several commandments3.
d)  That as, where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden3; and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded5: so, where a promise is annexed, the contrary threatening is included6; and, where a threatening is annexed, the contrary promise is included7.
e)  That what God forbids, is at no time to be done8; what he commands, is always our duty9; and yet every particular duty is not to be done at all times10.
f)  That under one sin or duty, all of the same kind are forbidden or commanded; together with all the causes, means, occasions, and appearances thereof, and provocations thereunto11.
g)  That what is forbidden or commanded to ourselves, we are bound, according to our places, to endeavor that it may be avoided or performed by others, according to the duty of their places12.
h)  That in what is commanded to others, we are bound, according to our places and callings, to be helpful to them13; and to take heed of partaking with others in what is forbidden them14.

1.  Ps. 19:7; James 2:10; Matt. 5:21-22
2.  Rom. 7:14; Deut. 6:5; Matt. 5:21-22, 27-28, 33-34, 37-39, 43-44; 22:37-39
3.  Col. 3:5; Amos 8:5; Prov. 1:19; 1Tim. 6:10
4.  Isa. 58:13; Deut. 6:13; Matt. 4:9-10; 15:4-6
5.  Matt. 5:21-25; Eph. 4:28
6.  Exod. 20:12; Prov. 30:17
7.  Jer. 18:7-8; Exod. 20:7; Ps. 15:1, 4-5; 24:4-5
8.  Job. 13:7; 36:21; Rom. 3:8; Heb. 11:25
9.  Deut. 4:8-9
10.  Matt. 12:7
11.  Matt. 5:21-22, 27-28; 15:4-6; Heb. 10:24-25; 1Thess. 5:22-23; Gal. 5:26; Col. 3:21
12.  Exod. 20:10; Lev. 19:17; Gen. 18:19; Josh. 24:15; Deut. 6:6-7
13.  2Cor. 1:24
14.  1Tim. 5:22

Question 100: What special things are we to consider in the ten commandments?

Answer:  We are to consider, in the ten commandments, the preface, the substance of the commandments themselves, and several reasons annexed to some of them, the more to enforce them.

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Question 101: What is the preface to the ten commandments?

Answer:  The preface to the ten commandments is contained in these words, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage1. Wherein God manifests his sovereignty, as being JEHOVAH, the eternal, immutable, and almighty God2; having his being in and of himself3, and giving being to all his words4 and works5: and that he is a God in covenant, as with Israel of old, so with all his people6; who, as he brought them out of their bondage in Egypt, so he delivers us from our spiritual thralldom7; and that therefore we are bound to take him for our God alone, and to keep all his commandments8.

1.  Exod. 20:2
2.  Isa. 44:6
3.  Exod. 3:14
4.  Exod. 6:3
5.  Acts 17:24, 28
6.  Gen. 17:7; Rom. 3:29
7.  Luke 1:74-75
8.  1Peter 1:15-18; Lev. 18:30, 19:37

Question 102: What is the sum of the four commandments which contain our duty to God?

Answer:  The sum of the four commandments containing our duty to God is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind.

Luke 10:27

Question 103: Which is the first commandment?

Answer:  The first commandment is, Thou shall have no other gods before me.

Exod. 20:3

Question 104: What are the duties required in the first commandment?

Answer:  The duties required in the first commandment are, the knowing and acknowledging of God to be the only true God, and our God1; and to worship and glorify him accordingly2, by thinking3, meditating4, remembering5, highly esteeming6, honoring7, adoring8, choosing9, loving10, desiring11, fearing of him12; believing him13; trusting14, hoping15, delighting16, rejoicing in him17; being zealous for him18; calling upon him, giving all praise and thanks19, and yielding all obedience and submission to him with the whole man20; being careful in all things to please him21, and sorrowful when in anything he is offended22; and walking humbly with him23.

1.  1Chr. 28:9; Deut 26:17; Isa. 43:10; Jer. 14:22
2.  Ps. 29:2; 95:6-7; Matt. 4:10
3.  Mal. 3:16
4.  Ps. 63:6
5.  Eccl. 12:1
6.  Ps. 71:19
7.  Mal. 1:6
8.  Isa. 45:28
9.  Josh. 24:15, 22
10.  Deut. 6:5
11.  Ps. 73:25
12.  Isa. 8:13
13.  Exod. 14:31
14.  Isa. 26:4
15.  Ps. 130:7
16.  Ps. 37:4
17.  Ps. 32:11
18.  Rom. 12:11; Num. 25:11
19.  Phil. 4:6
20.  Jer. 7:28; James 4:7
21.  1John 3:22
22.  Jer. 31:18; Ps. 119:136
23.  Micah 6:8

Question 105: What are the sins forbidden in the first commandment?

Answer:  The sins forbidden in the first commandment are, atheism, in denying or not having a God1; idolatry, in having or worshiping more gods than one, or any with or instead of the true God2; the not having and avouching him for God, and our God3; the omission or neglect of anything due to him, required in this commandment4; ignorance5, forgetfulness6, misapprehensions7, false opinions8, unworthy and wicked thoughts of him9; bold and curious searching into his secrets10; all profaneness11, hatred of God12; self-love13, self-seeking14, and all other inordinate and immoderate setting of our mind, will, or affections upon other things, and taking them off from him in whole or in part15; vain credulity16, unbelief17, heresy18, misbelief19, distrust20, despair21, incorrigibleness22, and insensibleness under judgments23, hardness of heart24, pride25, presumption26, carnal security27, tempting of God28; using unlawful means29, and trusting in lawful means30; carnal delights and joys31; corrupt, blind, and indiscreet zeal32; lukewarmness33, and deadness in the things of God34; estranging ourselves, and apostatizing from God35; praying, or giving any religious worship, to saints, angels, or any other creatures36; all compacts and consulting with the devil37, and hearkening to his suggestions38; making men the lords of our faith and conscience39; slighting and despising God and his commands40; resisting and grieving of his Spirit41, discontent and impatience at his dispensations, charging him foolishly for the evils he inflicts on us42; and ascribing the praise of any good we either are, have, or can do, to fortune43, idols44, ourselves45, or any other creature46.

1.  Ps. 14:1; Eph. 2:12
2.  Jer. 2:27-28; 1Thess. 1:9
3.  Ps. 81:11
4.  Isa. 43:22-24
5.  Jer. 4:22; Hosea 4:1, 6
6.  Jer. 2:32
7.  Acts 17:23, 29
8.  Isa. 40:18
9.  Ps. 1:21
10.  Deut. 29:29
11.  Titus 1:16; Heb. 12:16
12.  Rom. 1:30
13.  2Tim. 3:2
14.  Phil. 2:21
15.  1John 2:15-16; 1Sam. 2:29; Col. 3:2, 5
16.  1John 4:1
17.  Heb. 3:12
18.  Gal. 5:20; Titus 3:10
19.  Acts 26:9
20.  Ps. 78:22
21.  Gen. 4:13
22.  Jer. 5:3
23.  Isa. 42:25
24.  Rom. 2:5
25.  Jer. 13:15
26.  Ps. 19:13
27.  Zeph. 1:12
28.  Matt. 4:7
29.  Rom. 3:8
30.  Jer. 17:5
31.  2Tim. 3:4
32.  Gal. 4:17; John 16:2; Rom. 10:2; Luke 9:54-55
33.  Rev. 3:16
34.  Rev. 3:1
35.  Ezek. 14:5; Isa. 1:4-5
36.  Rom. 1:25, 10:13-14; Hosea 4:12; Acts 10:25-26; Rev. 19:10; Matt. 4:10; Col. 2:18
37.  Lev. 20:6; 1Sam. 28:7, 11; 1Chr. 10:13-14
38.  Acts 5:3
39.  2Cor. 1:24; Matt. 23:9
40.  Deut. 32:15; 2Sam. 12:9; Prov. 13:13
41.  Acts 7:51; Eph. 4:30
42.  Ps. 73:2-3, 13-15, 22; Job 1:22
43.  1Sam. 6:7-9
44.  Dan. 5:23
45.  Deut. 8:17; Dan. 4:30
46.  Hab. 1:16

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Question 106: What are we specially taught by these words before me in the first commandment?

Answer:  These words before me, or before my face, in the first commandment, teach us, that God, who sees all things, takes special notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other God: that so it may be an argument to dissuade from it, and to aggravate it as a most impudent provocation1: as also to persuade us to do as in his sight whatever we do in his service2.

1.  Ezek. 8:5-18; Ps. 44:20-21
2.  1Chr. 28:9

Question 107: Which is the second commandment?

Answer:  The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Exod. 20:4-6

Question 108: What are the duties required in the second commandment?

Answer:  The duties required in the second commandment are, the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God has instituted in his Word1; particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ2; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the Word3; the administration and receiving of the sacraments4; church government and discipline5; the ministry and maintenance thereof6; religious fasting7; swearing by the name of God8, and vowing unto him9: as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing, all false worship10; and, according to each one’s place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry11.

1.  Deut. 32:46-47; Matt. 28:30; Acts 2:42; 1Tim. 6:13-14
2.  Phil. 4:6; Eph. 5:20
3.  Deut. 17:18-19; Acts 10:88; 15:21; 2Tim. 4:2; James 1:21-22
4.  Matt. 28:19; 1Cor. 11:23-30
5.  Matt. 16:19; 18:15-17; 1Cor. ch. 5; 12:28
6.  Eph. 4:11-12; 1Tim. 5:17-18; 1Cor. 9:1-15
7.  Joel 2:12-13; 1Cor. 7:5
8.  Deut. 6:13
9.  Isa. 19:21; Ps. 76:11
10.  Acts 17:16-17; Ps. 16:4
11.  Deut. 7:5; Isa. 30:22

Question 109: What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?

Answer:  The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising1, counseling2, commanding3, using4, and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself5; tolerating a false religion6; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever7; all worshiping of it8, or God in it or by it9; the making of any representation of feigned deities10, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them11; all superstitious devices12, corrupting the worship of God13, adding to it, or taking from it14, whether invented and taken up of ourselves15, or received by tradition from others16, though under the title of antiquity17, custom18, devotion19, good intent, or any other pretense whatsoever20; simony21; sacrilege22; all neglect23, contempt24, hindering25, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God has appointed26.

1.  Num. 15:39
2.  Deut. 13:6-8
3.  Hosea 5:11; Micah 6:16
4.  1Kings 11:33; 12:33
5.  Deut. 12:30-32
6.  Deut. 13:6-12; Zech. 13:2-3; Rev. 2:2, 14-15, 20, Rev. 17:12, 16-17
7.  Deut. 4:15-19; Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:21-23, 25
8.  Dan. 3:18; Gal. 4:8
9.  Exod. 32:5
10.  Exod. 32:8
11.  1Kings 18:26, 28; Isa. 65:11
12.  Acts 17:22; Col. 2:21-23
13.  Mal. 1:7-8, 14
14.  Deut. 4:2
15.  Ps. 106:39
16.  Matt. 15:9
17.  1Peter 1:18
18.  Jer. 44:17
19.  Isa. 65:3-5; Gal. 1:13-14
20.  1Sam. 13:11-12; 15:21
21.  Acts 8:18
22.  Rom. 2:22; Mal. 3:8
23.  Exod. 4:24-26
24.  Matt. 22:5; Mal. 1:7, 13
25.  Matt. 23:13
26.  Acts 13:44-45; 1Thess. 2:15-16

Question 110: What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it?

Answer:  The reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it, contained in these words, For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments1; are, besides God’s sovereignty over us, and propriety in us2, his fervent zeal for his own worship3, and his revengeful indignation against all false worship, as being a spiritual whoredom4; accounting the breakers of this commandment such as hate him, and threatening to punish them unto divers generations5; and esteeming the observers of it such as love him and keep his commandments, and promising mercy to them unto many generations6.

1.  Exod. 20:5-6
2.  Ps. 45:11; Rev. 20:3-4
3.  Exod. 34:13-14
4.  1Cor. 10:20-22; Jer. 7:18-20; Ezek. 16:26-27; Deut. 32:16-20
5.  Hosea 2:2-4
6.  Deut. 5:29

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