THE

SHORTER CATECHISM

EXPLAINED


QUESTION 61. What is forbidden in the Fourth Commandment?

ANSWER: The Fourth Commandment forbiddeth the omission, or careless performance, of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments and recreations.


Q. 1. How are the sins ranked that are forbidden in this commandment?

A. They are ranked into sins of omission, and sins of commission.[75]

Q. 2. What are the sins of omission here forbidden?

A. Both the total neglect of the duties required, and the neglect of the careful performance of these, when essayed.

Q. 3. Of what is the total neglect of the duties required on the Sabbath an evidence?

A. It is a plain evidence of the neglect of all religious duties through the week; and, consequently, an evidence of atheism, profaneness, and apostasy.

Q. 4. When are persons guilty of the careless performance of the duties required on the Sabbath?

A. When they go about them in a partial, formal and lifeless way, Matt. 15:8.

Q. 5. What is it to go about duties in a partial way?

A. It is to perform some of them, and omit others equally necessary; such as, attending the public, and neglecting the private exercises of God's Worship; or the contrary.

Q. 6. What is formality in duty?

A. It is the bare outward performance of it, without regarding the manner in which it ought to be done, or the vital principle from whence it should flow, 2 Tim. 3:5.

Q. 7. What are the ordinary causes of the dead and lifeless performance of religious duties?

A. Wandering thoughts, weariness, and drowsiness, are among none of the least.

Q. 8. What is the best antidote against wandering thoughts?

A. Faith in exercise: for this will fix the attention to what we are presently engaged in, whether hearing, praying, or praising, Psalm 57:7.

Q. 9. Whence arises weariness in duty?

A. From the natural bias of the heart and affections to worldly things, rather than religious exercises, Amos 8:5 -- "When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat?"

Q. 10. What is the evil of drowsiness, particularly in hearing the word, or joining in prayer and praise?

A. If it be voluntary and customary, it is a manifest contempt of the word and presence of the great God, and paying less regard to him, than we even do to our fellow creatures.

Q. 11. What are the sins of COMMISSION forbidden in this commandment?

A. The profaning the day by idleness or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments and recreations.

Q. 12 What is the idleness here prohibited.

A. It is a loitering away the Sabbath, in a slothful, indolent, and inactive manner, without any real benefit or advantage, either to soul or body, Matt. 20:3.

Q. 13. Why is there a prohibition of doing that which is in itself sinful on the Lord's day, when it is unlawful on every other day?

A. Because whatever the sinful action be, there is a greater aggravation of guilt in committing it on the Sabbath, which ought to be kept holy to God, than upon any other day, Jer. 17:27.

Q. 14. What are these thoughts, words, or works, that are here called unnecessary?

A. They are such as are about our worldly employments and recreations; or, they are all such thoughts, words, or works, as are not inevitably used about the works of necessity and mercy, which are lawful on this day.

Q. 15. Why is the day said to be profaned by the sins here forbidden?

A. Because these sins are each of them the reverse of that holiness, which should shine in all our duties, public and private, on the Lord's day, Isa. 58:13, 14.


[75] See both these explained, Part I. on the head, Of sin in general.
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