THE

SHORTER CATECHISM

EXPLAINED


QUESTION 42. What is the sum of the Ten Commandments?

ANSWER: The sum of the Ten Commandments is, To love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbour as ourselves.


Q. 1. How is the sum of the Ten Commandments divided in this answer?

A. Into the sum of the four commandments in the first table, which contain our duty to God; and into the sum of the six commandments in the second table, which contain our duty to man.

Q. 2. What is the sum of the four commandments in the first table, which contain our duty to God?

A. It is to love the Lord our God, with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind, Luke 10:27.

Q. 3. Why is this called "the first and great commandment?" Matt. 22:38.

A. Because the duties of the first table have a more direct relation to God, as being the immediate object of them, or, because love to our neighbour should flow from love to God, as the proper fountain and principle of it, 1 John 5:1.

Q. 4. What is meant by the sum of the commandments?

A. The comprehensive duty of the law, which includes all other duties in the bosom of it, Rom. 13:9.

Q. 5. What is the comprehensive duty of the law?

A. It is LOVE; for "love is the fulfilling of the law," Rom. 13:10.

Q. 6. What is the nature of that love which is the comprehensive duty of the law?

A. It is such as flows from faith, as the source and fountain of it; for "faith worketh by love," Gal. 5:6.

Q. 7. What ought to be the supreme object of our love?

A. The Lord, or JEHOVAH himself, as he is our God, Deut. 30:6.

Q. 8. How many ways may the Lord be said to be our God?

A. Two ways; either by external revelation and offer; or, by special property and possession.

Q. 9. To whom does he make the external revelation and offer of himself, as their God?

A. To all such of mankind, without exception, as have the word of this salvation sent to them, Prov. 8:4; Heb. 8:10.

Q. 10. When is he our God by special property and possession?

A. When by faith we are united to Christ, 1 Cor. 3:23, in whom mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other, Psalm 85:10.

Q. 11. What is it to love the Lord our God with all our heart?

A. It is to love him unfeignedly, without hypocrisy or dissimulation, Rom. 12:9.

Q. 12. What is it to love him with all our soul, and mind?

A. It is to have an intelligent, cordial, and affectionate love to God; expressed in all the duties, in which any power or faculty of the soul can be exercised, Isa. 26:8, 9.

Q. 13. What is it to love the Lord our God with all our strength?

A. It is to love nothing so much as God, Matt. 10:37; and nothing but in subordination to him, Luke 14:26.

Q. 14. How may we know, if we have such a supreme love to the Lord our God?

A. If we love him purely for himself and his own matchless excellency, as shining in the face of Jesus, Song 1:3; if we account all things but loss in comparison of him, Phil. 3:8; and if we centre in him as the only resting-place of our souls for ever, Psalm 73:25, 26.

Q. 15. What is the sum of the six commandments in the second table, which contain our duty to man?

A. It is to love our neighbour as ourselves, Matt. 22:39 -- "The second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

Q. 16. Why is the sum of the second table said to be like unto the sum of the first?

A. Because the duties of the second table are enjoined by the same authority as those of the first, James 2:10.

Q. 17. In which of the two tables is the lawful love of ourselves contained, seeing it is not expressly mentioned in either of them?

A. It is fairly implied and supposed in both tables, particularly in the second, where love to ourselves is made the example and pattern, according to which we should love others, Luke 10:27 -- "Thou shalt love -- thy neighbour AS thyself."

Q. 18. What is lawful self-love?

A. It is an aiming at our own happiness, in subordination to the glory of God, which ought to be our chief and ultimate end, 1 Cor. 10:31.

Q. 19. Whom are we to understand by our neighbour?

A. All of mankind to whom we have any way access to be useful, either as to their temporal or spiritual good, Luke 10:36, 37.

Q. 20. What is it to love our neighbour as ourselves?

A. It is to love him as truly and sincerely as we do ourselves, Eph. 5:29 -- "No man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it."

Q. 21. Should our love to our neighbour be as great as it is to ourselves?

A. It is not required that it be as great in degree, but only that it be as sincere, and free of hypocrisy, as it is to ourselves, Rom. 12:9.

Q. 22. What is the rule according to which our love to our neighbour should be regulated?

A. That we do to others what we would have them do to us, Matt. 7:12.

Q. 23. How is this rule to be explained for preventing the abuse of it?

A. That we do as we would be done to, from a well-informed judgement; and by such as place themselves in the same relations, and in the same circumstances with us.

Q. 24. Why are we enjoined to esteem others better than ourselves? Phil. 2:3.

A. Because the more of the grace of God we have in our hearts, we will the more clearly see that we ourselves are the chief of sinners, 1 Tim. 1:14, 15, and have the seed of all sin in us, which would soon spring up into the worst of actions, if not restrained, Rom. 7:23.

Q. 25. What is the difference between the love we should have to all in general, and the love we should have to the saints in particular?

A. We should love all men in general, with a love of benevolence, and likewise of beneficence according to our ability, Gal. 6:10; but we should love the saints with a love of complacency and delight, Psalm 16:3.

Q. 26. How ought our love to extend itself to our enemies?

A. By forgiving them, and praying for them, Matt. 5:44; Acts 7:60.

Q. 27. What may we learn from the sum of the commandments?

A. That charity, or love, which is the end of the commandment, ought to flow from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned, 1 Tim. 1:5.


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